Even among the wave of young, rules-smashing punk acts today, the band F U Pay Us is something new. The South L.A. band’s serrated hardcore is acerbic but spiritual, ferocious yet meditative. They’re also — as four black, largely queer young women — in constant dialogue with punk’s history and future, with its political potential and its checkered past. Their set tonight at the Globe (with experimental producer Inga Copeland) will be their most high-profile to date.
The group has earned a steady and outspoken local following since forming over the last year, in the heady mix of Leimert Park’s radical art and music scenes. Given that intersectionality is woven into the fabric of their band, the members can’t help but write from the frontlines of black, queer, female and South L.A. identities. Street harassment, political hopelessness — it’s energizing to hear black women’s anger stripped of decorum and let out in all its confrontational power.
They haven’t even cut a single record yet, but for Uhuru Moor (guitar/voice), Jasmine Nyende (voice), Ayotunde Osareme (bass) and Tianna Nicole (drums), the action so far has been live, ephemeral and uncompromising. Videos of their first practice sessions drew outsized attention online; perhaps fans seeing this band in its infancy could recognize the necessity of an act like them right now.
While the act aligns with the wider, ongoing Afro-punk movement (one that combines experimental music of all genres with radical fashion and political activism), it’s a little hard to tell what, exactly, the band sounds like at the moment. Most of its output consists of grainy rehearsal videos, some without drums and others recorded with the casualness of a Snapchat session.
But that feels more like a tactic than a limitation. Instead of fomenting mystery, the band is going for full candor as its members learn to play together (but in true punk fashion, the act isn’t above a little self-mythologizing too). Even without a formal record, the snippets of its nascent tracks suggest this is a band that could upend L.A.’s punk scene very quickly.
If the Trump-resistance movement has been about trying to finally organize the potential of marginalized people, F U Pay us is about giving voice to the other side of that coin — the inchoate rage that keeps women, the LGBTQ community and people of color up at night (both before and after Trump), and offering reminders that there is still real power in that feeling.
F U Pay Us plays with Inga Copeland and Odwalla88 at the Globe in downtown L.A. More info here.
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