Trans Day of Revenge
[Amoeba Music; 2016]
Whatever happened to teenage angst? When I was an adolescent, teens who were frustrated with the state of the world found their battle cry in the music of bands like Propaghandi, Pennywise, and Good Riddance. The generation before me fought the reign of Reagan through bands like Minor Threat, Black Flag, and yes, Reagan Youth. But what do the frustrated youth of today turn to when upset? A snarky tweet with an @ mention? Holding up a hash-tagged sign in an Instagram photo? A Change.org petition that will be about as effective as a petition for the government to begin construction on the Death Star?
I know I’m probably coming off a bit a curmudgeonly, but I think now is a better time than any to get angry. Not hide behind a Twitter Egg angry, but angry like the hardcore punks of yore who lived and breathed antagonism. Thank God for the arrival of the transgender punk band G.L.O.S.S. They accomplish more in their five song, seven minute EP Trans Day of Revenge than anything else released in 2016 (and any peaceful protest). It’s blunt. It’s brash. It’s brutal.
G.L.O.S.S. (which stands for Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit), released their 2016 EP the day after the mass shooting at the Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida. On a day filled with the tried and true soundbite “thoughts and prayers,” Trans Day of Revenge arrived with a very different message of violence and vitriol. Singer Sadie Smith’s petulance permeates in each pummeling scream, yelling out lyrics that eviscerate any small-minded ethos that gets in their way. The album opens with her growling, “When peace is just another word for death/ it’s our turn to give violence a chance.” The song goes on to take down the pro-cop, #BackTheBlue movement with the observation of “Justice is a joke, it’s a trap, it’s a farce.”
“Give Violence a Chance”:
In only five tracks, G.L.O.S.S. take on a plethora of hot-button issues. On “Out from the Desk” she responds to domestic abuse with even more aggression, screaming “Battery and abuse will be met with total violence.” The displaying of the confederate flag is torn down on “Fight” with the lyric, “Wave your flag/ For your fucked up race/ If you don’t take fight/ You’ll take a brick to the face.”
Each song is backed by a heavy dose of vintage hardcore guitar riffage and breakneck drums, reminiscent of early 80s Minor Threat. In the same way Ian Mackaye once presented the views of the straight edge movement, G.L.O.S.S. provide the perspective of the transgender community on the final two tracks. “We Live” is the only track on the album that doesn’t resort to violence, instead, it is a heartbreaking reflection on what it’s like growing up uncomfortable in your own body. The song chronicles the trauma, shame, and loneliness faced by transgender teens but also provides a message of perseverance in the face of adversity with the chorus of “We live and die/ against the grain/ for ourselves we live/ we live.”
With Trans Day of Revenge, G.L.O.S.S. has provided a fight song for a generation taught to always play nice.