Born in a ravaged post-war society, punk rock was both an expression of angst, and political activism, and a community where everyone belonged. In America, punk rock maintains as a subculture, but has become commodified to the very thing it was against. However, punk rock is alive and grooving in the Holy Land. Israeli punk rocks thrives with the same fervor as The 100 Club, carries the same activist motifs, and sounds just as powerful. In this article, I count down my favorite Israeli punk rock artists.
5) Kids Insane
Kids Insane is the ultimate hardcore band. Hailing from Tel Aviv, Kids Insane describes themselves as “the ultimate representation of an amazing generation of Israeli punx that are rooted deep in between the anger and frustration that the region is known for” incorporating “raw- energetic hardcore punk and sarcastic, but extremely direct lyrics.” Their fast, nonstop guitar drive and poetic punch are reminiscent of the Germs. Kids Insane proves that punk rock is not dead if you do it right.
Song Recommendations: “X-Ray Vision”, “No Place Like Home”, “Dear Politics”
4) Not On Tour
With intoxicating guitar reminiscent of JawBreaker and catchy Hayley Williams-esque vocals, Not On Tour is the ultimate Israeli pop-punk powerhouse. The band started out as a joke between friends in Tel Aviv and became too good to quit. Despite their name, Not on Tour is in fact touring all across the world, with recent endeavors in Vienna and Israel. Songs average under 90 seconds, but are insanely danceable and filled with memorable lyrics.
Song recommendations: Anything off Growing Pains, “That’s Why”, “Desperation Street”
Haze’evot (the She-Wolves) are bent on bringing light to grrl energy and experiences in the traditionally male-dominated music scene of punk rock. Haze’evot describes themselves as authentic and powerful, and fans rave about electricfying live shows. If you can’t make the trip to Israel, their LoveBoat sessions on Spotify are a great place to start. Haze’evot’s fusion of the raw, political and existential are reminiscent of their musical influences Blur and David Bowie. Be on the lookout for an album coming out this year.
הזאבות שעות שמחות, The Yoga Teacher
2) Monotonix/ Yonatan Gat
Okay, so technically Yonatan Gat is an Israeli based in New York, but that’s because Monotonix’s tours with Pavement and Faith No More were so controversial that they got him banned from Israel. Typically, the extravagant live performances started with headbanging metal riffs and ended with and an audience covered in bodily fluids, instruments on fire, and the band being forced out of the venue. I can’t think of anything more punk rock than that.
Gat is also an accomplished solo performer. Despite his burning-fuzz tone influence from Link Wray, and jazz-like mastery of syncopation inspired by Alice Coltrane– Yonatan Gat’s sound is otherworldly. Perhaps his collaborations with the Medicine Singers and incorporation of musical motifs from different cultures has something to do with it.
Magnet magazine dubbed Gat “a legendary live performer” “melding punk, improvisation, world music, and avant-garde.” Put on some headphones and you’ll see exactly what Magnet meant.
Song recommendations: “Casino Cafè”, “Medicine”, “Set Me Free”
HaMachshefot is everything a girl, grunge, punk band from the ’90s should be. In Western terms, they’re a fusion of Hole, The Mighty Bosstones, and X-Ray Specks. HaMacshefot emerged playing live shows in clubs around the sea of Galeli and as a warm-up band for Björk. Their lyrics, mostly born from the mind of lead singer Inbal Perlmuter are biting and young- from topics of her friendship with her dog to the sexual empancipaction of women.
From its inception, HaMachshefot was a treasure for queer youth in Israel. Many who felt alienated from Israeli culture because of their secuality and alienated from Western culture due to their Israeli heritage found sanctuary in Perlmuter’s unabashedly queer yearning and her refusal to hide her Israeli accent.
Song recommendations- “The Agony and the Ecstacy,” “קסם על ים כנרת” , “המכשפות – עד העונג הבא,” “Shivers with Nick Cave”