By Niamh Christian
It’s been impossible to avoid the news on George Floyds death. The devastating 9-minute long video went viral, showing the white police officer kneeling on his neck as he cries out his last words.
“I can’t breathe.”
That phrase has become infamous after hearing him repeatedly cry it as he was brutally asphyxiation to death. It could also be heard on the video that he was crying out “Mama” moments before passing out.
Despite claims that he was resisting arrest, he can be clearly heard agreeing to get in the car if they get off him.
It’s a traumatising video, that has shaken the world! Although it is well known that racism is an ongoing issue in not just the US, but the world, this video was the tipping point for a lot of people. Watching an innocent man slowly get murdered in broad daylight by police officers was the final kick for Black people to demand their right to live. Riots have spread across all 50 states in America as well as across the globe.
Racism is seen in almost every industry in the world and the music industry is no stranger to it. The music industry is constantly taking from black culture and turning it white to make it more socially acceptable, while in the meantime ignoring the everyday battle black and minority ethnicities face from society, the law and those in power.
However, Fever 333 have had enough.
A band not only known for being political and Ideological but also 2 out of the 3 members are black themselves, Fever 333 have been writing the soundtrack for the revolution since they started in 2017. Their gigs are demonstrations, their merchandise is supplies and their songs are anthems. Boldly speaking out about gun violence, black rights and police brutality, they saw this coming well in advance.
On Wednesday, June the 3rd, Fever 333 took it upon themselves to try and make a difference. They did their first-ever live stream titled ‘Long Live The Innocent’, dedicated to raising money for Black Lives Matter and Minnesota Freedom Fund. They left clear, visible links to these in the description, making it easy as possible for viewers to donate.
As the live stream started, Jason Butler opened up asking their viewers to listen to their stories before kicking off the set with ‘Made an American’, their title track for their debut album.
This powerful song is terrifyingly too relevant to the current riots, with the lyrics ‘They’re cutting your oxygen ’til you paralysed’ sending shivers down my spine as images of George Floyd suffocating come to mind. It’s a chilling song that openly calls cops killers, as ‘they call it cleaning up the streets, we call it homicide’. This was one of their first songs to be released and it perfectly gave their followers an insight into what they stand for, with everyone since then following similar lines.
After that song had ended, Butler addresses people of colour and the lgbt+ community, telling them “your existence alone is punk-rock” before breaking into the ending of ‘PREY FOR ME’ with the repeated line “You’re not the only one that feels like the only one”. A statement that at a time like this is extremely empowering! One thing that these riots have told minorities is that they’re not alone in this fight.
“I’m tired, I’m so tired,” he explains how he has been walking miles and yelling for hours every single day. Yet this isn’t why he’s tired. As he says “I realise I’ve been tired for years, ever since I realised what it meant to be black in America”.
He asks everyone watching for one thing: to show up!
“You wanna take from black music and black art but you don’t wanna celebrate it or show up when we dying in the streets.” He tells them “you’re not supporting rock music. You’re not supporting black people. You’re exploiting black music.”
He addresses every streaming site, record company, manager, distribution company, and venue to “stop taking from our culture” and to “show up for black people”.
The chanting for ‘ONE OF US’ starts to play with a high pitched chant “You are the minority, We are the majority, fuck your lies and fuck your greed, we are the majority”.
‘ONE OF US’ is another one of their songs that discusses police brutality towards black people, using a very famous phrase “no justice, no peace” a phrase that began to be used in these type of riots after Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old black man was shot dead by police in North London 2011. The music video for this song shows the band performing during a protest march, one that looks very similar (yet much less violent and dangerous) than the ones happening in the world right now.
During this song, Jason Butler brings out a drum and begins to play a rapid little drum solo moving from the drum to the floor and then the microphone.”You love black culture, show up for black people.” He screams before ending the song with the repeated line “Stand up or die on your knees”.
He asks to take a moment of silence saying “We will not be silent the way they thought we would be silent. We will be silent in the name of all those beautiful black bodies that were slain needlessly and senselessly”. Complete silence as the background begins to list names, starting with George Floyd, and increasingly ever so slightly every few seconds until there were hundreds of names on the screen. Hundreds of black people who were victims of the world-wide plague of Racism.
The silence is broken by the words “Say his name, say her name, say their names. Rest in Peace George Floyd.” right before screaming Floyd’s famous words “I can’t breathe” as the intro into ‘THE INNOCENT’, the title of this Live Stream. A song that mentions the death of Trayvon Martin who “had just left the market with candy and got his ass killed”. One of America’s well-known cases of an unarmed black man dying at the hands of the law.
As the song fades out, a black and white video of Donald Trump chanting “USA” starts playing in the background. “Right now in America, there is a fire being stoked by those in power” He begins to explain “We are giving up our power to a system that does not care about us. If you can watch these atrocities and see no problem, then you are the fucking problem. Do not retreat when I tell you what you fucking are.”
The next song they play Inglewood, an emotional masterpiece that had my tearing as I watched the performance. The song hits hard with the touching lyrics as he expresses what it was like to be seven watching riots “You watched the news, I lived in it”. This song never fails to move me, as he talks about losing friends, his mother nearly being shot and growing up surrounded by violence.
“These things are happening, and with the globalisation of the internet and phones and computers, it would be negligent to say you don’t see it.” Butler begins to vent, “You may not look like the person who died on the streets or the people who are segregated, but you are affected by these systems.”
He makes the important point that ‘being pro-black is not being anti-white’ which seems to be a common misconception for the ignorant, who counterargue ‘Black Lives Matter’ with uneducated, narrow-minded phrase All Lives Matter. Butler continues his message, discussing how for generations the creed, the colour and the idea of blackness as been relegated. “They’ve optimised our bodies, our minds, our culture to gain finances”. Explaining how so much has been built upon the backs of slaves, Butler confirms these are not bias beliefs but solid facts and it would be negligent to ignore them. “For you to feel confronted, I will accept. But for you to walk away from the conversation you fall into the category of being problematic”.
Referring back to George Floyd, “I learnt today the other 3 officers have been arrested” he says but then adds that this is simply a small victory when looking at the relevant timeline of centuries of oppression. He pleads that we must ” not understate the problem, by overstating this moment in time”. This has been a repeated pattern, where protesters are silenced by small victories, and then the needed reformations will not take place. History will keep repeating itself, black lives will keep being lost unjustly until real action is taken. “We will not accept treats like animals, so we stop asking for attention”. With #BlackOutTuesday being a viral social media trend this week, he states that this is not enough to repair what has been done and what will continue to happen if we do not fight for more.
The quiet chanting of “333” can be made out, increasingly getting louder as they break into their song ‘We’re Coming In’. The lyrics ‘We trust the boys in blue, they keep on serving us while they’re protecting you’ really hitting hard as he screams it with every bit of strength within him.
The song ends and a soft female voice can be heard singing softly, as they start their new, never been heard song ‘Supremacy’. This song is a lot less heavy than what we’re used to from Fever, with a lot less screaming and thrashy drums and a lot more emphasis on the bass and the beat. A meaningful song about living under supremacy.
“We made it real easy for you to support today” he explains that the links to donate have been left clear in the description, for those who are constantly asking how they can help. Donating is such a simple yet effective way to support this movement in these times, a lot more beneficially than posting a black square.
They begin to play their popular song ‘BURN IT’, a song that makes numerous racial references, as he names Malcolm, Martin, Ali and Rodney King. If you’re already a Fever 333 follower, you may be familiar with the songs music video. It is one of the most ideologically explicit videos I have ever seen in my life, which shows clips representing police brutality, footage of Jason in a suit stood at a podium in a reference to Martin Luther King jr and even includes KKK costumes. This is the final song they play for this live stream, putting every bit of burning passion they have into performing it. As the song reaches an end, Butler screams “If you are silent, you are complacent” and finishing with “show up for black people!”
The Livestream comes to a silent end from there, again showing the hundreds of names that they had listed before, moving up the screen.
To say that this Live Stream was moving would be an understatement. It was powerful and must’ve taken a lot of strength to perform. They managed to raise money and awareness simultaneously, it was one of the most inspiring things I have ever had the honour of watching.
Link to the Livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ap6KZo4YOvY