If you’re at all familiar with the riot grrrl movement of the 90s, and some of the riot grrrl heroines, then you have probably seen countless show reviews and previews of the Kathleen Hanna Tribute that was held this past Saturday in NYC @ The Knitting Factory.
So you’ve probably read about it and saw some of the people who showed up (Kathleen Hanna! Kim Gordon! JD Samson! Care Bears on Fire! Kaia Wilson!) but I have to go over it again, here. Here in Salt Lake I’d heard rumors of the show and thought, oh how cool is this! The event was organized by Sini Anderson, who’s working on a documentary on Kathleen Hanna and the riot grrrl movement. The night included 20 or so bands, each who got to perform a song from the Hanna Scrapbook (from Bikini Kill to Julie Ruin to Le Tigre). Bands ranged from Care Bears on Fire–an amazing group of talented young veterans from The Rock and Roll Camp for Girls to MEN (with former Le-Tigre bandmate, JD Samson)-a band that focuses on the energy of live performance and the radical potential of dance music. And would you believe me if I told you Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth notoriety) was there? Well she was. And would you believe that she got up onstage to read the riot grrrl manifesta?
Well. She did.
And then there were all the bands I didn’t mention which run like a list of bands that you should be paying attention to if you don’t know them already:
- Anna Copa Cabanna
- The Fancy
- Toshi Reagon
- Alison Clancy
- and so much more! Look here for a complete list of bands that performed (and the BK/JR/LT song they got to perform!)
And while there have already been countless blogs/reviews posted of this show–I have to write this entry. Mostly because finding all these amazing reviews and videos from the evening has had an impact on me. A mix of emotions are running through me right now–hope, seeds of inspiration, excitement, and most of all, just an overwhelming sense of WOW. The fact that this show happened and was so successful was reportedly AMAZING for all involved just fills me with awe. I think the success of this event shows us how vital the riot grrrl movement of the 90s was and REMAINS. The fact that the show drew veterans of the riot grrrl scene–which broke almost TWENTY YEARS AGO-and young punk/pop rock high school kids is a testament to how meaningful the music and the message remains in our world. Yes women in music have made advances, but there is still a place for those of us with feminist leanings who want to make music and kick ass while doing so. This in of itself is beautiful, and leaves me at a loss for words.
Then there’s the fact that Kathleen Hanna herself took to the stage. Just writing these words sparks excitement. I am one of those riot grrrls who never got to be part of the original scene. And my introduction to the movement was through research online and in books about women in rock/punk. And I unfortunately missed Kathleen Hanna’s time as a frontwoman for Bikini Kill, Julie Ruin, and Le Tigre.
And while it is–to a large degree–unfair and even wrong that she should be one of the main icons for the riot grrrl movement, she is. And the fact that she made the public announcement at this wonderful tribute/benefit that SHE WILL BE RETURNING TO MUSIC with the Julie Ruin Band is something that I think will have definite repercussions. Now, I could be wrong. I am not one of those people who like to pretend I’m always right–I’m not–but oh this could be the thing that causes massive ripples within local music communities. There are going to be the girls who lived through the riot grrrl movement who shout and scream and get really excited about Kathleen’s return to music, and tell their sisters/their daughters about this frontwoman who helped spark a movement that’s still making a difference. Those same girls might just get re-inspired. Remember when we got involved and made our own music? Remember when we were making zines and creating communities and going to punk shows all over the place? They might get re-involved in the scenes. Their sisters might get excited too. They’ll see bands like Care Bears on Fire and the Awkward Turtles and say–wait, I can make music? I can do this?
And come on, The Julie Ruin Project is gonna need some local bands to open for them. They’ll need the local riot grrrl band to come forth and say, “I love what you do, and you inspired me to make my own music and make a difference in MY community.” And local communities need these bands to speak up and create this space for grrrl fronted music. I see a resurgence in Ladyfests all over the fuckin’ country. I can barely type this, my thoughts are on fire and it’s hard to translate this excitement to the keyboard.
I just barely started reading Greil Marcus’s Lipstick Traces, and came upon a quote that I thought of as extremely relevant, and totally true. “Music seeks to change life; life goes on; the music is left behind; that is what is left to talk about.”
Right now, as I write in this dim coffee shop, my enthusiasm bursting over, I don’t believe this quote is quite as right on as I thought. Movements such as the riot grrrl movement have actually had a lasting impact. And the stuff happening RIGHT NOW? It’s proof. Concrete, beautiful, amazing proof.
I am so excited to see what the future holds. I am so excited to continue bringing new music to this blog and creating an awesome riot-grrrl inspired community in the place that I live. And the open mic I host here in SLC? The When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution open mic? Oh, is it going to continue being awesome. And if you want in on the action…let me know. 2011–The year of the Grrrl.