Allah Punk Conspiracy


There’s a reason punk rock’s been called the urban or post-industrial blues.

The ideas that energize punk — questioning authority/dogma, rebelling against social mores, thinking/dressing for yourself and not to fit into a crowd — are ones that resonate across all social and geopolitical borders. Like the blues, they speak to a state of alienation striving to overcome and discover inner peace or a state of rest.

The durability of this rubric and its particular appeal to young people carving out their place in the world is seen in squats and basement shows the world around, and it’s been documented in our own punk rock squat, Tower 2012.

The communal club at 9521 Madison Avenue serves as the setting for The Taqwacores, a low-budget film based upon a novel of the same name by Michael Muhammad Knight.

Knight’s book is a coming of age story that traces its Muslim protagonist’s journey of self-discovery living in a punk rock house near his university in Buffalo. The book inspired many disenfranchised Muslim young adults to start their own punk bands to express their own search for meaning in post-9/11 America.

Described as a Catcher in the Rye for Muslim youth, filmmaker Eyad Zahra adapted the book for the screen and filmed it in and around Tower 2012 in October 2008.

The film premiered at Sundance this year and received some nice notices. It will be showing here tomorrow and Sunday as part of the Cleveland International Film Festival. (It plays at Tower City at 10 p.m. tomorrow and on Sunday at 4:40 p.m.)

To celebrate the show, several Taqwacore bands are putting on shows around town after the screening each night. Tomorrow at midnight Tower 2012 will host a show featuring Boston’s the Kominas, Chicago’s Al-Thawra and our very own Filmstrip (who actually aren’t Taqwacore but feature members of the collective that operates Tower 2012).

Sunday’s show at Now That’s Class will also include some free nosh. Besides the Kominas and Al-Thawra, there will be performances by Sunny Ali & the Kid, Mystery of Two, Basement Boys and Space Ducks.

The Kominas (which means scoundrels in Hinid and Punjabi) are one of the genre’s shining lights, mixing middle eastern tonalities, some Arabic lyrics and bristling punk rock rhythms, though with their changing tempos and steely angular guitar recall the Circle Jerks, Fugazi and the Descendants more than old school hardcore. Indeed, their debut Wild Nights in Guantanamo Bay is quite fetching and assured.

Like the Kominas, Al-Thawra also features some sitar and middle-eastern modalities, though they are principally a self-described “doom-crust” band, which apparently means dark, menacing Sabbath-heavy throb and slashing trebly thrash guitar crawling along on its stomach.

Filmstrip is catchy up-tempo indie rock with chiming guitar and some post-punk undertones (think Ted Leo guided by Guided by Voices).

As for Sunday’s bands, Sunny Ali are an eclectic Philly-based Islamic country-psych duo with a sense of humor, Mystery of Two are a punchy local new wave-inflected indie rock trio on Exit Stencil, and local quintet Basement Boys play Oi!-inspired melodic hardcore. —Chris Parker

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