In my recent piece, “The Necessary Precariousness of Hope,” I explore some of what makes hope so difficult and yet so necessary. Hope involves a capacity for being able to bear the unknown and unlikely, as Rebecca Solnit has said– which can be a beautifully expansive and playful experience given the best circumstances, and extraordinarily challenging in the most oppressive circumstances. The topic of hope was slowly rising in my mind when I went to see a band called Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist punk band whose lyrics fight for the rights of women and queer people amidst an oppressive political state.
In all honesty, the only thing I thought I knew about Pussy Riot prior to last week was what I just wrote above. But when I saw they were coming to San Francisco, I jumped on the chance to get tickets. (Bonus points for an early show, home by 10pm!)
The band I saw that evening was not the band I expected, which traditionally consisted of two main members (who have spent time in prison for protesting Putin) and 11 side members. The San Francisco show featured one person with a feminine-sounding, possibly Russian-accented voice and another person behind a mixer with a masculine-sounding voice. Both of their faces were covered by colorful woven ski masks. The music was not punk rock as I know it– it was more like fun, dance-y electronic beats. I learned from the vocalist that evening that “anybody can be Pussy Riot.” So I don’t really know who was behind those masks. Apparently, they could have been anybody.Read More