„After coming over Thaketa bridge from Tamwe side turn left – the warehouse by the river“- are the directions presented on the Jam it! Facebook event “Punk vs. Hip Hop” – a combination that would hardly work in Europe.
Whatever I expected before getting to the warehouse – this is better. Entering the old dilapidated building I soon recognize the eclectic mix of people hanging out in here. I see families, teenagers dressed in hip-hop clothes, punks with black leather jackets and colorful mohawks and even two monks. A group of young boys is staring at me since I am nearly the only foreigner in the warehouse at that point. At the front of the warehouse is a stage boasting and impressive and elaborate lighting and sound system. While at the back of the hall are three mounted white walls upon which graffiti artists demonstrate their skills.
It is extremely hot inside and we decide to have a cold beer outside and wait – and wait – and wait. The show that was supposed to start at 7 and at 8.30 there is still nothing going on. By this point we were already wondering if anything was actually going to happen. But moments later suddenly everyone makes a run and goes inside and the waiting was definitely worth it!
The Punk bands and Hip Hop artists played alternately and the crowd celebrated loudly for all of them – Cultural Shock, Y.A.K., No U Turn, Hooligan Army, One Way and Cyclone put on strong performances filled with energy. The warehouse soon is filled up with fog from a fog machine and the dancing crowd heats up the hall.
Even though I don’t understand one word of the lyrics I have an amazing time enjoying the sounds and the beautiful Burmese language. Normally I mostly listen to rock music and consider myself to be a huge rock fan but this evening the Hip Hop artists are the most impressive to me. The Myanmar language just seems to be created to be rhymed into rap form.
The whole evening left a strong impression on me: everything from the quality of the music to the peaceful atmosphere of the get-together. It’s hard to imagine that two that different subcultures like punk and hip hop would get together that peacefully in Germany (where I am from). It is inspiring to see that the wish for enjoying live music – of any genre- and expressing yourself can bring people together and make them become one community where everybody is welcomed.
I wish all the best to the Jam It organizers who manage to put on such an event. Especially since the authorities make it very hard for the developing music scene in Yangon to build up and exist. I am already looking forward to my next live music experience in Myanmar.