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Punk Aid - Aceh Calling

A Benefit Album for Punks in Need

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Punk Aid - Aceh Calling

Aceh Calling

Evacuate Records
The benefit show is something very familiar to many members of many punk scenes. Following a medical emergency, tragedy or traumatic event affecting a member of the scene, bands and fellow punks come together to put on a show, kicking the door at the beneficiary, to go toward medical bills or what have you.

But what happens when the even happens halfway across the world, to punks who are, for all practical purposes, strangers?

This is the situation presented with the situation in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where 64 punks in the Sharia-controlled province were arrested and sent to "re-education camps" after a punk show, where they were themselves coming together for a benefit show for a local orphan's charity. The punks had their heads forcibly shaved, their clothes destroyed, and they were subjected to religious indoctrination that, to date, local authorities are still defending.

In the wake of this human rights violation, Michael "Mike Virus" Rothstein, former frontman for The Virus, Cheap Sex and currently of Evacuate started a discussion on his Facebook page, that within three months turned into Aceh Calling, a 72-band compilation to benefit the punks in Aceh.

Bands from all over the world donated their tracks, and countless benefit shows were put on in order to cover production costs, and now the compilation is complete, with all of the proceeds going to Movement Records in Indonesia, to distribute to the punks in Aceh. The compilation is available worldwide as a download, and as a 3-disc set in Aceh, where the punks will be able to get their hands on not only the music, but the awareness of the fact that they're not alone, and worldwide there is a scene that cares about them.

In a sense, this may be the most important punk album to ever come out, a testament that the scene exists worldwide, and that the internet hasn't fragmented local scenes as is occasionally suggested, but has instead served to unite those fragmented scenes to something much larger, and very aware.

But political and social importance would mean nothing if the compilation weren't actually a decent comp - which it is. Bands from all over the world from North and South America through Europe and Asia have stepped forward to include tracks.

Aceh Calling opens with the title track from Virus' own band Evacuate, a forceful punk anthem that professes to the Aceh punks that they're not alone, an exemplary entrance that sets a tone for the entire album.

While it was great to see familiar names from bands I already know to be great come on board, including the Krum Bums who blast through with "The Sound," Doggy Style who contributed "Punker's Anthem," which is all it purports to be from its title, and Lower Class Brats who deliver yet another great street anthem with "Who Do They Save."

Other familiar names present include Lab Rats (a band that furthers the integration of the scene, being the former band of current Evacuate guitarist Karlos), SS-Kaliert, bringing more anthemic chaos from Germany, and AntiSeen, whose "Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match" is a raw, wrestling-inspired hardcore essential.

There is exposure and a show of support from the Aceh punks' fellows in Indonesia, including the screeching street sounds from Brigade of Bridge, a 30-second sludge-meets-thrash burst from For Trash, raw old school hardcore sounds in the form of "Police Bastard" by Cheapness, serious upbeat punk rock from Skangkots, an anthem from The Oversuck, snotty English-ispired punk from The Borstal and jangly sloppy punk from The Kuda.

Mad Pigs from the Czech Republic, Hangover Generation from Switzerland, The Bricks from China - it's a veritable United Nations of punk unity. There are so many great tracks on this comp that I feel remiss by not mentioning them all, but I'll sum with the simple declaration that you need to buy this. Even if this album didn't have the social consciousness attached to it that it does, it would serve as an amazing introduction to many bands worldwide. For many, this will be their first exposure to punk from places far and wide, and will help to expand the musical horizons of anyone who listens to it, as well as to point out that when it comes to punk, we're all part of one big scene.

Over the years, I have been to and even put on my share of benefit shows. These shows are generally the result of a scene coming together, with local bands playing while other locals kick in money to support another member of the scene. With Aceh Calling, Punk Aid has essentially done the same thing, but also pointed out that the scene is much bigger. Bands from all over the world have come together, donating time and music, while others have kicked in cash - all to help a bunch of punks they don't know in a place they'll never have to go.

Sadly, this benefit is by no means the only one of its kind needed, punk scenes throughout the world face similar persecution, from Iraq to Burma to Russia, but hopefully Aceh Calling sets the bar, both toward extending awareness to the problems scenes face worldwide as well as making everyone aware that, through unity, punks can do their part to help these scenes by elevating awareness and coming together in shows of support.

It truly extends the global idea of the scene, and points out that we're all part of it.

Aceh Calling is available here for only $6.

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