What is youth unrest

The sound of the youth riots in 1980 - “Züri brännt” spurred the youth riots in Zurich on

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Boredom and anger in the stomach: why music was so important in the 1980s movement.

When the youth riots broke out in front of the Zurich Opera House on May 30, 1980, it was all about politics. But also about music. In the opera house, Vincenzo Bellini's melodrama “La Somnambula” was on the program when the protesters were joined by visitors to the Bob Marley concert in the Hallenstadion.

Worlds collided. Sparks flew. Many young people were still listening to Marley's song "I Shot The Sheriff" when the first stones hit the police.

The sound has always been one step ahead of the youth movement. «Züri brännt», the song by the punk band TNT, which became the anthem of the youth, was released in 1979. One could also say that Zurich was on fire back then because many young people were burning for their city.

They just wanted a different Zurich, not an “old wank town”. The sound was the vehicle that brought the anger of the youth onto the streets. This protest music had an impact that is unique in Swiss history.

Against the "asshole" commercial world

Music was the engine of the youth movement. The music scene has been simmering for a long time. And it was part of good form that the name of a band made it clear: Hey, we are civic terror and give a shit about your "asshole" commercial world.

The bands were called Sperma, TNT, Bucks, Der Böse Bub Eugen or Needles. So was it all angry punk, tossed by jagged guitars? There was no uniform sound for the youth movement. The scene was too diverse. Everything was possible for the revolution: from punk to synth pop to jazz and reggae.

"Plastic instead of jute"

Irony was important. The humor in general. The internationally successful female trio Liliput sang “Yours is mine, and mine belongs to me” - a bit of a headache against the fervently conjured community spirit of the early 1980s. Whenever the hippies demanded “jute instead of plastic”, the punks turned it into “plastic instead of jute”.

But it was all the more witty when the band Hertz presented themselves in self-sewn jute dresses at the monster concert for the legendary exhibition “Saus & Braus”.

The humor was also an indirect tip against the deadly serious and dogmatic political wing of the scene. Sometimes female musicians were dragged off the stage when they were wearing make-up. Because make-up was an affront, especially for feminist activists.

Rote Fabrik becomes a cultural center

The bands also wanted to make the world a better place, and many of the artists were first politicized by police violence. But they also knew: it works better with fun. And it was fun that should have the last word. Because it was the cultural demands that were finally met by the city: the red factory as a cultural center, or the creation of the pop credit.

Quite a few musicians who were close to the youth movement got off to an international start in this decade: Yello, Stephan Eicher, The Young Gods or Liliput. The two world hits “Bostich” (Yello), Link opens in a new window and “Eisbär” (gray area), Link opens in a new window, created in 1980. The case was clear, it was a mission of the utmost urgency: the Swiss provincial foul was finally behind it allow.

Three hymns of the youth movement

Open the box Close the box
  • TNT - Züri is on fire

"Züri is burning, the old Wichserstadt / Züri is burning down before Aschiss." The TNT song felt the pulse of the turmoil and unleashed it again. Resistive, bland and yet anthemic: the song par excellence of the Zurich youth riots.

  • F.D.P - Swiss Simmer

The name said it was program - that means: One had the opposite of what Freinness wanted in mind. The Zurich punk band got really rough: "Schwizer simer, but wänds nöd si / mir schiissed all uf euses country."

  • Gray area - polar bear

It wasn't built as a protest song, nor was it from Zurich. And yet in the lines “I want to be a polar bear, in the cold polar. Then I wouldn't have to scream anymore, everything becomes so clear »a lot of zeitgeist with.

SRF 1, Sternstunde Kunst, May 24th, 2020, 8:45 am

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