“We’re not just here to piss people off,” said Erin Litterer, the lead singer of Dissidence, a confrontational, politically-fueled band from Reno. “We’re here to send a message and make people think about their actions and know that words are weapons.”
Dissidence exhibits a ferocious antagonism that aligns with a present-day anarcho-punk renaissance. Their performances advance an incendiary agenda of egalitarianism, hurled through the air like a Molotov cocktail in the name of social change.
As a three-piece group, Dissidence employs a stripped-down instrumentation, with Litterer joined by Ryan Porter and Austin Bunnell on drums and guitar respectively.
The band falls into the category of blackened crust, a subgenre of punk rock that’s influenced by hardcore and anarcho-punk, seasoned with a little bit of black metal for good measure.
Although their music is stamped with a singular signature, the music of Dissidence is strongly influenced by bands like Aus-Rotten, Darkthrone and Iskra.
The music itself acts as a channel, through which Dissidence can advocate their message, as their belligerent cries against social injustice are underscored by a driving punk rock pulse, classic metal riffs and of course, some good old-fashioned hardcore breakdowns.
The lyrical content for Dissidence’s music is undeniably categorized by the causes the band stands for, like environmental consciousness, workers’ rights, and support of local businesses.
But, true to the form of punk ideology, it’s much easier to talk about what the trio stands against. Dissidence puts up an aggressive opposition to vivisection, fascism, homophobia, the coal industry, body-shaming, and basically, any form of toxic oppression.
The main point that the group tries to push? Equality.
One of the biggest societal obstructions that Dissidence attempts to ravage through their music is the caste system that sexism creates.
It’s a sad obstacle that Litterer has had to face as a female musician.
“I’ve been told a couple of times, ’All right sweetheart, you can’t be here during soundcheck,’” said Litterer.
All of the group are self-proclaimed feminists. With two-thirds of the trio being males, this, in itself, spits in the face of the idea of feminism being a man-hating lynch mob. As they note a surge of gender discrimination and slut-shaming arising in the local punk scene, Dissidence destabilizes the rigid categories of sex at their shows.
“Sometimes, punk rock can be a boys’ club. But recently, a lot of the younger girls that go to shows and they see Erin and think, ’OK, I’m not here to hold somebody’s jacket.’ Anyone can go to the front of the crowd and be a part of this,” said Porter.
Their brutally relentless songs make it easy to assume the members of Dissidence are nothing more than rabble-rousing hellraisers. Regardless of how they disseminate their views, the points stick.
But that doesn’t mean that they haven’t had their share of naysayers.
“We’ve had people who have walked out of our sets a few times,” says Bunnell.
Nonetheless, the general reception has been positive, especially with the numerous milestones Dissidence is set to reach in the next few months.
Dissidence is in preparations to record a three-track demo, set to be released sometime in February. Then in March, they’re set to play a week-long tour, alongside Plague Widow from Sacramento and Implore from Germany, but not before they play at least one more show in Reno.
At the end of the day, the members of Dissidence are united by their ideals. But more importantly, by their bond.
“We’re best friends—we can sing about anarchism and feminism and then go down and eat pizza and watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” says Bunnell.