System of a Down Against Ignorance
Today, the Armenian Genocide is known as the "Forgotten Genocide" among scholars and history buffs, as well as descendants of Armenian victims. The Turkish Government still denies any wrongdoing, though most countries in the civilized world recognize their crimes, America does not.
This is where System of a Down enters the picture. The Los Angeles-based rock band, whose members are all Armenian, decided to show their anger for presidential administrations not recognizing the genocide.
System of a Down won't give up their fight for justice and for the past two years on the anniversary of the genocide the band has thrown a benefit show to raise money and remember those who lost their lives.
The genocide hits close to home for all the members of the band who have family members who perished in the deserts at the hands of the Turkish military.
"The genocide in 1951 is very close to my heart. I lost my great grandma to the atrocities committed by the Turkish Government," said 22-year-old Santa Monica College student David Agajanian. "The benefit show that system put-on was very important to the world and my family."
On Sunday, April 24, System of a Down headlined "SOULS: Commemoration of a Forgotten Genocide." The event was held to a sold-out crowd at the Universal Amphitheater.
At 8:15 p.m. sharp the mass of fans rushed to their seats, the lights in the venue went black, two giant projectors lowered on each side of the stage. A 10-minute tape of Peter Jennings from ABC's World News Tonight gave a brief history on the genocide, giving eyewitness accounts of the brutal torture and annihilation of the Armenians.
After the emotional clip the band took the stage and played over two hours of high energy heavy metal with a twist of punk, thrash and traditional Armenian folk music.
The band includes vocalist Serj Tankian, guitarist Daron Malakian, bassist Shavo Odajian and drummer John Dolmayan and they played songs off their last three records, including the hits "Sugar," "Chop Suey" and "Aerials" - all songs from their un-released record "Mezmerize."
"This was such an amazing performance by System of a Down. I loved the new songs, and it was for a great cause," said SMC student Michael Hernandez. "I can't wait till the new album comes out, it's been so long!"
The 6,000 fans in the crowd went wild and the floor area near the front often erupted into wild pits with fans swirling around in a circle like a human hurricane. All this while a "help promote awareness of the genocide" pamphlet containing all the facts and background history was passed out to the crowd.
Included in the pamphlet were ways to get involved in helping bring the perpetrators of this mass murder to justice. Even though it has been 90 years, the fact remains the same: 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered in the first genocide of the 20th century. Most astonishing is that it is not widely known or even accepted by our government.
This event merged rock music with political action. By helping to recognize the Armenian genocide, it also brings awareness to the current issues of Rwanda, Cambodia and East Timor.
"This band didn't start to change the world, or to change your mind," shouted guitarist Daron Malakian in the middle of the band's performance. "We just want you all to ask questions and make a difference in the world."
For more information on the genocide, visit www.axisofjustice.org, www.genocide1915.info, www.genocideeducation.org or www.anca.org.