We cannot have peace without justice, and we cannot have justice without equality.
Birrugan Dunn-Velasco, Lead Singer of Dispossessed
Saturday nights fundraiser at the Tote in Collingwood for Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR), a collective of young aboriginal people committed to the cause of decolonisation and the philosophy of aboriginal nationalism, was an intensely intriguing gig, with highly regarded Indigenous Australian act Dispossessed taking centre stage.
Formed less than a year ago in Sydney, Dispossessed are a heavy metal, hardcore punk band that have some serious musical talent. Heavy riffs, loud aggressive guitar tones and a unique vocal style, Dispossessed were in your face and happy to be there. But if you think that Dispossessed are just another heavy metal band doing the rounds, you will be sorely surprised. After seeing them live, I certainly was.
Opening their set by burning the Australian flag in the Tote’s beer garden, and then proceeding to announce that all white people in the audience should consider themselves lucky to even be there, I quickly realised that this band does not mince their words. They are a band fed up with the lack of action surrounding Indigenous issues in this country and they are not afraid to ruffle some feathers as they get their message across. That is what makes Dispossessed truly unique; their political views and their no nonsense, who gives a fuck attitude when portraying them.
Music has been used as political tool countless times before, but Dispossessed combine music, politics, and emotion in a way that I have never seen before. Heavy themes are on display, with references to white supremacy, capitalism, colonialism and the domination of Australian media by the “capitalist white man”, but everything here is calculated and said with intention and passion.
This reaffirms the fact that Dispossessed are a highly intelligent and passionate band, who are intentionally and successfully using music as the perfect platform to have their voices heard. Their goal is to stigmatise and provoke with their rhetoric and lyrics, instead of simply rehashing what has been said for decades with little or no real change for Indigenous Australians.
While this aggressive, over bearing stance may seem counter-productive to some, including myself at first, it does gets people talking about an issue that a lot of Australians would rather bury their head in the sand about. It is hard to say I didn’t feel uncomfortable at times throughout the set, but being brutally forced outside of your comfort zone is what Dispossessed are all about. They are forcing regular, white Australians to have a hard, long and critical look at themselves and the dark history of the colonisation of Australia, and I see that as a step forward.
If you would like to learn more about Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, or Dispossessed, below are links to their Facebook pages.
Feature Image Credit: Jack Davison