Being punk in the DDR was a public display of non-conformity. Its aesthetic was brash and its method direct. The DDR demanded assimilation. Naturally, punks were not-so-quietly going about establishing tight-knit communities of rebellion. The foundation of which was radical co-operation and self-determination, even if they weren’t yet aware of it.
Punks were kids. But, when those kids would travel from Rostock to Leipzig for Wutanfall then to Berlin for Planlos, those communities, in the eyes of the Stasi, became networks. The stakes had been raised. Punk was officially “gefährlich” and the consequences were severe. Beatings and house-raids were habitual. Par for the course brutality that only served to strengthen their resolve and turn self-taught musicians into hardened activists. Yet, terror is never solely a physical phenomenon. It is psychological and cultural. And the relentless encroachment of the Stasi into punk would dog the scene throughout the 80s. Soon the Stasi was locked in a race against time. In a paranoiac world of informants and misinformation, officials would stop at nothing to bring down punk before punk brought down the wall. This is the sound of the DDR.
Engerling & Ret Marut, Nov 4, 20:30 at Gethsemanekirche. Planlos, this is not. Yet, Ret Marut’s Bernd Michael Lade was their drummer in the 80s whilst also singing for Cadavre Exquis until the fall of the wall. The husband and wife band are punks proper, you may remember Maria Simon from Good Bye Lenin!, and in Engerling’s Ost-Blues they have found an interesting foil.
Zerfall, Nov 6, 19:30 at Alexanderplatz. Another flash in the tumultuous pan of East German punk, the band was only active from 83-85, when the drummer turned coat to join the NVA. Original members Kalle and Plansch, reformed the band in 2008, re-recording their old tracks, and a completely new album.
Pankow, Nov 7, 19:30 at Alexanderplatz. Named for the district that housed the old DDR government, Pankow was one of the foremost bands of East Germany. One of the regime’s loudest critics, they faced an almost constant ban from the airwaves. Despite this, the group never backed down, and have been rocking for almost four decades.
Anti-X, Nov 10, 17:30 at Stasi Zentrale. After members of Vitamin-A (A for anarchy), were imprisoned for their incendiary lyrics, Anti-X was formed. Upon release, they were right back on the stage. This is punk in its truest form, self-taught, never rehearsed, and always live.