Photo Essays | Society | Southeast Asia

The Punks of Myanmar

A look at the colorful (and political) members of an emerging counterculture.

The Punks of Myanmar

A young punk attends an underground punk rock concert in the former Myanmar capital city of Yangon prior to the official start of the New Year Water Festival (“Thingyan”), April 12, 2014.

Credit: Olaf Schuelke
The Punks of Myanmar

Local Myanmar punks gather for an underground punk rock concert in the former Burmese capital city of Yangon, April 12, 2014.

Credit: Olaf Schuelke
The Punks of Myanmar

Local Myanmar punks gather for an underground punk rock concert in the former Burmese capital city of Yangon, April 12, 2014.

Credit: Olaf Schuelke
The Punks of Myanmar

Pictured here are the sons of punks attending a punk rock concert, parallel to the official start of the New Year Water Festival (“Thingyan”) in the former Burmese capital city of Yangon, April 12, 2014.

Credit: Olaf Schuelke
The Punks of Myanmar

A punk spray-paints a wall before the start of an underground punk rock concert n the former Burmese capital city of Rangoon (Yangon), April 12, 2014.

Credit: Olaf Schuelke
The Punks of Myanmar

Two Buddhist monks walk past punks who sit next to a road waiting for the start of an underground punk rock concert n the former Burmese capital city of Rangoon (Yangon), April 12, 2014.

Credit: Olaf Schuelke
The Punks of Myanmar

Parallel to the official start of the Myanmar New Year Water Festival (“Thingyan”) an underground punk rock concert takes place in the former Myanmar capital city of Yangon, April 12, 2014. Concertgoers dance wildly to the music.

Credit: Olaf Schuelke
The Punks of Myanmar

Parallel to the official start of the Myanmar New Year Water Festival (“Thingyan”) an underground punk rock concert takes place in the former Myanmar capital city of Yangon, April 12, 2014. Concertgoers dance wildly to the music.

Credit: Olaf Schuelke

It was one day before the official start of the New Year Water Festival in the former Myanmar capital of Yangon, and an illegal punk rock concert had been organized with half a dozen local hardcore bands slated to perform, act such as Kultureshock, Rebel Riot and Chaos in Burma.

Some members of the local counterculture were even accompanied by their young sons. With their dyed hair and colorful Mohawks, metal chains, and Sid Vicious t-shirts they had been turned into miniature versions of their punk fathers. Neither money nor effort had been spared to replicate the look of the original British and U.S. street punks from the 1970s and 80s, whose influence on the Myanmar variety remains immense.

The punks of Myanmar exist on the fringes of the country’s once closed society. Many continue to rebel against political injustice, speak out against the government, and protest ongoing religious intolerance. But for this night, at least, politics was to be put aside.