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Radkey, race, and rock 'n' roll 

click to enlarge Radkey, who carry on in the tradition of Hendrix, Death and Bad Brains, come to Sunshine Studios on March 29.
  • Radkey, who carry on in the tradition of Hendrix, Death and Bad Brains, come to Sunshine Studios on March 29.

Identity politics in rock music remains a funny thing with regard to gender and race, even as the genre has been a popular culture mainstay for nearly seven decades and has ostensibly benefited from the more than half-century's worth of social progress. Even as the punk movement of the 1970s purported to break down all barriers as to who was "allowed" to play rock music, there still exist, in 2017, preconceived notions of what a rock band looks like — usually white and male.

On the topic of race, it's even more wildly strange to consider this, when the genre itself has its roots in African-American musical styles from gospel onward: The recently deceased Chuck Berry laid the framework for the newly christened "rock and roll" music in the 1950s, Jimi Hendrix reinvented the possibilities of rock guitar in the 1960s, and the Washington, D.C.-based Bad Brains were among the pioneers of hardcore punk in 1977.

Indeed, punk rock itself was seemingly presaged by Detroit-based trio Death. Formed by brothers Bobby, David and Dannis Hackney in 1971, Death spun their love of The Who and Alice Cooper into something far more political, urgent and visionary. Unfortunately, they found neither critical nor commercial success until their music was unearthed in the 2012 documentary A Band Called Death, which I'd unreservedly recommend to any music fan.

I don't think garage punk trio Radkey, however, which consists of brothers Isaiah, Solomon and Dee Radke, will have to wait as long to get their due.

Radkey brings their eclectic punk sound to Sunshine Studios' "Spring Broke Bash" on March 29, joined by locals No Stone Unturned and Lamb Bed. Besides plenty of hooks and Dee Radke's crooning baritone vocals — which you could easily mistake for Glenn Danzig if you weren't paying attention — the band of homeschooled brothers from St. Joseph, Missouri, brings an already-impressive pedigree to the proceedings. Their first show in 2011 was an opening slot for legendary ska/alt-rock band Fishbone, and they've since added appearances at SXSW, Afropunk Fest, Coachella, Riot Fest and the UK's Download Festival, as well as having their music featured on NME and Adult Swim.

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