Punk rock pioneers were busy honing their music, fashion and social statements late in the 70s and well into the 80s. The movement never lost itself, but has recently enjoyed a revival in the modern sub-genre EMO.
The Ramones set the punk stage for the early 70s. Their style was counter culture and a bit pissed-off. Their sound was punchy and guitar heavy. The early punk rockers glorified innovation over standardization, a malaise they witnessed within the larger rock and roll confines. Punk bands loudly and publicly railed against the same old, same old of their industry and raucously rallied fans to embrace their newer, gutsier sound.
British punk was personified in the Sex Pistols. By name alone the band opposed mainstream thought. In fact the Sex Pistols might have caused so much social upheaval that it led to their early demise, but not before they had already carved a deep groove in the UK music and socio-political fabric.
In the UK punk was the defining genre of the 70s and early 80s. The Police, the Clash and the Slits laid down music that broke boundaries and codified a lifestyle.
During the 80s anything went in music; genres spawned sub-genres and MTV gave a face to music that had before only existed within the continental U.S.’s FM hemisphere. Musical fashion and in-your-face videos influenced fans all on their own. In the U.S. punk was reaching its pinnacle of favor. Acts like Devo and the Dead Kennedys gave punk its signature geek look which to this day is still manifested in the contemporary punk sub genre emo.
By the mid 80s, though a large segment of the original punk sound had morphed into New Wave. The new sub-genre became less elemental and basic, more electronic and synth-centric.
Body piercing and Mohawk hairstyles most exemplified the punk sub-genre that followed—hardcore punk. The lyrics turned angrier and were screamed rather than sung and the music turned up the volume and got aggressive. Bands like the Circle Jerks and Husker Du depicted American suburbia as a hellhole from which few escaped except through musical rebellion.
Contemporary EMO is fallout from the punk genre and encompasses a scope of music that is typically more lyrically intelligent than its predecessors, but still wrestles with youth-centric trauma and angst. Contemporary punk acts include Green Day, The Offspring and Sleater-Kinney.