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Reagan-Era Rage: Warsaw’s Government Flu

In Music
FEVERISH: Polish punks Government Flu burn through 11 tracks in just under 15 minutes on their latest album, 'Vile Life.'

FEVERISH: Polish punks Government Flu burn through 11 tracks in just under 15 minutes on their latest album, 'Vile Life.'

San Francisco made a lot of contributions to the early days of punk. Bands like Crime, Flipper and The Avengers each made their own, unique contributions—expanding the nascent genre’s boundaries in myriad directions and incorporating disparate sonic elements, from rockabilly to noise.

But of all the bands to come from SF’s hardcore scene, no one has had close to the lasting influence, or latter-day relevance, of the Dead Kennedys. If “Kill the Poor” was a pointed commentary on the hypocrisies of San Francisco in 1980, it is infinitely more so in 2016, when a one-bedroom in the Mission goes for $4,000 a month.

But you don’t have to be from the Bay Area to understand the importance of the DKs. Case in point: Polish hardcore band, Government Flu. Taking their name from the opening track on the DKs’ second album, Government Flu play a thrashy, ’80s-style of punk reminiscent of Poison Idea and Minor Threat.

The Warsaw-based quartet come to San Jose in support of Vile Life, their third full-length record, which was released in July by Refuse Records. The 11-track album is streaming on the group’s Bandcamp and blows by in a blistering 14 minutes and 40 seconds. With only one track lasting longer than two minutes, the record is relentless.

In hardcore, there is an obvious cleavage between bands that use the genre’s intensity to address social issues, and those who just want to find outlets for violence; Government Flu clearly belong to the former. Though they can certainly thrash with the best of them, Government Flu uses its platform to call out despotism, abuse of power, toxic masculinity and xenophobia.

This all might sound like a pure throwback to the political ideals espoused by so many ’80s punk bands—and why not? As we ’80s babies come of age, many of us are realizing just how prescient these pop culture prophets are turning out to be. From the punk rock music of Jello Biafra to the cyberpunk novels of William Gibson, it’s all happening: mass surveillance, burgeoning Wall Street opulence, and the resurgence of a kind of jingoistic, populist rhetoric not seen since the darkest days of the Cold War. Sometimes it just takes an outsider’s perspective to see it.

AninoKo, Dead Pressure and Time to Kill share the bill. If socially positive ragers are your thing, this show is likely to be one of the best San Jose has seen in a while.

Government Flu
Sep 9, 7pm, $7
SJ Salon, San Jose

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