Viagra Boys’ Exploration Of Not-So-Toxic Masculinity Is Putting Sweden On The Punk Map

By Sean Edwards

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Masculinity is fragile. Gender is a poisonous construct. Advertisers use subliminal messaging to trick your brain into believing products will get you laid.

We all know these things. Marshall McLuhan told us so, but cultural programming still dictates how we react, think, feel and, sometimes unfortunately, play music. Theres no way around it; the developed world is full of influence that often gets the best of us, after all we are human. No one is exempt especially artists who spend their lives working to create and simultaneously subvert mass culture. Rock music has had a strained relationship with its primal motivations and relationships to marginalized groups since its inception. ‘Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll’ is a hedonistic fantasy that mirrors the values of mainstream culture it rallies against. Take the quintessential high school jock: the bro, the douche the unrepentant meathead who revels in aggression, beers and pure violence thinly veiled in sport. The end result is pretty similar to your local punker. As they say love and hate are two sides of a coin; Tom Brady and Jello Biafra are pretty much the same dude, although I’m pretty sure my man Jello isn’t kissing any children on the Lips.

So where do we go? If punks are the same as their locker room counterparts what’s the point? If musicians and artists live like pro athletes and fall into the same programmed behaviors as the people we disdain, then it’s all fake. There’s no more meaning to coming out with an album than kicking a ball around or beating each other up in an eight sided cage. As much as I, or anyone who has dedicated their short lives to music, hates to admit it; it’s probably true. Art is inherently masturbatory, as are sports, as is being a human being. We are all walking stimulation junkies, but there are key differences in how we achieve our communal aim. Swedish post-punkers Viagra Boys 2018 track Sports off of their album “Street Worms” is a love song to those differences and their shared sultry ending.

Murphy’s baritone lyrics are simple in their drone. Getting high in the morning and buying things on the internet is a sport, playing baseball is a sport, getting high on a basketball court is a sport and so is wearing sunglasses while you sleep or playing tennis; everything is a sport in that its all inherently pointless. The human experience, whether you’ve spent your time petting wiener dogs down on the beach or playing rugby-ball, is a grand exercise in futility, but where the nihilism begins, so does acceptance. If ‘meaning’ is something made up by people, then we can assign it to anything we want. Sports, music, board games or gardening it doesn’t matter; you get to decide whats cool and so does the jock. After all, you have no credibility calling someone an asshole if you can’t recognize it in yourself.

The whole ride is wonderfully ironic and exciting. Viagra Boys come through with an unyielding punk attitude that is aged and wise. They work with tried and true stereotypes to scream at us what we already knew in not so many words. I’m not sure if V-Boys know Yung Lean, but they’re all from Stockholm so its not impossible. In the surrealist worlds they occupy, I wouldn’t bet against it. The world is a wild and strange place and Sweden seems to be the spot.

You can purchase tickets to see VB perform at The Echo on March 20th HERE. Enjoy a selection of their music below and expect extensive coverage of the oddly soothing freak-show that is Viagra Boys from here on out. Keep it up…

 

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