Yesterday was the first time in ages that I’ve done a show on the radio. I’m taking over from my friend Michael while he’s away for the summer. I think I might be alternating with Alex, and I guess sometimes we’ll do shows together – I think she plays pretty different music to me though, so it’s not the “Pony 4 Honey” show that I used to do, but my songs will be pretty similar to the ones I did on that show. Dude, it was quite stressful for the first hour! But I think I’ve got it sussed now, hopefully next time will go more smoothly.
So! If you want to listen, tune into Fleet FM 88.3 if you live in inner city Auckland, and if you don’t, you can stream it on the web at www.fleetfm.co.nz. The show is from 11am-1pm, Fridays.
Here is the playlist from yesterday (I hope to start recording my shows, and we’ll upload it here). Tui and her 1 yr old Lola visited me during the show, and Lola made a special “shout out” on the microphone during the PiL song…she’s gonna be a rockstar/dj/superstar for sure. And thanks Linden!! of course, cos he put up with my meltdown and then texted me to tell me the show sounded great! And to Michael who let me borrow his show!
Sea Shaped Stone – Ghost Club
So previously I’d mentioned I’d been reading this book Riot Grrrl: revolution girl style now!, which was put out a couple of months ago by Black Dog Publishing. This book is made up of articles wrtten by a bunch of different authors who were around during the Riot Grrrl heydey, or who are involved in similar things these days, and so the articles are a mixture of their own experiences and the oral histories of other women involved, such as Allison Wolfe, Tobi Vail, Layla Gibbon and more.
One of the most striking things for me about this book was its UK slant. Up until now, most of the stuff that I’ve read about Riot Grrrl comes from the US, for obvious reasons I guess, but sometimes it feels like you are reading the same information over and over, and while I love to read about Riot Grrrl regardless, I was wondering if this book would just be another one of those, so was pleasantly surprised to find that wasn’t the case. Obviously, Huggy Bear plays a big part but you also get to hear about various UK distros, fanzines and feminist spaces.
Also interesting were the discussions around the inspirations and off shoots of Riot Grrrl, particularly its connection with twee. I’d sort of assumed they’d discuss the development of feminist electronic and experimental music and stuff, and while Le Tigre was the starting point for the final chapter, it was mostly in terms of them being artists and the lyrics to Hot Topic and Sadie Benning’s films, and other bands like Chicks on Speed, Erase Errata, Kevin Blechdom etc, which to me seemed like logical follow ons weren’t mentioned at all. So instead of those kinds of bands, the girl group genre, populated with bands like the Ronettes and later the Pipettes, garage music like thee Headcoatees and the Gossip, and the twee stuff such as Calvin Johnson’s projects in the States and bands like Belle and Sebastian in the UK, are added to the family tree. The twee connection was obvious really, I guess, with the whole Riot Grrrl love of DIY and tapes and cute letters etc, and perhaps the electronic and experimental stuff stemmed more directly from post punk, rather than Riot Grrrl, though there is that more direct political edge to bands such as CoS that I’m sure owes more to Riot Grrrl than the vaguer post punk genre…anyway, that’s another story! So once again with this book I was pleasantly surprised to be reading about Riot Grrrl from an angle which I’d not really considered before.
This book is visually interesting too, with colour photos and pictures of zines and posters throughout, including segments of Jigsaw and the Huggy Bear zines, riot grrrl graffiti perpertrated by the author of one of the chapters and art ranging from Judy Chicago to Julie Doucet, plus a timeline at the back and an intro by Beth Ditto!
This book is quite sprawling in lots of ways. Each chapter seems to have a vague theme, but ultimately it is a collection of each writer’s different take on the Riot Grrrl scene, then and now, and therefore avoids canonising any one band, or promoting any one version of events. It certainly leaves plenty of room for another book to be written, perhaps by Americans, or perhaps by women from another part of the world, because as this book shows, Riot Grrrl was more than just Bikini Kill, and it leaves you wondering what else was going on in other parts of the world (though it does discuss Riot Grrrl in some European countries to a certain extent), and makes you want to join the conversation and compile a book on Riot Grrrl in NZ! Go on, you know you want to!
You will soon be able to order this book from www.cherrybombcomics.co.nz
To be perfectly honest, the show was so great for me that all I really remember was Beth, my friends and feeling happier than I’ve felt in ages. I mean, the music, yeah, obviously, but it kind of just flowed through us anyway, most of the songs so familiar from hours of listening that it almost wasn’t real that we were hearing them live. As far as I remember each song was amazing, and I am in awe that the band can play with such intensity, like playing those songs was still fresh them even after all these years and hundreds of performances. This was the first time for most New Zealanders though.
When I think about the show, I remember being completely surrounded by my best friends and feeling really safe. Unlike shows played by bands with similar fans that I’ve been to sort of recently (Peaches and Herms, Le Tigre, Sleater Kinney etc), I actually didn’t come out of the Gossip with sprained ankles and covered in bruises. I didn’t have to fight to see past aggressive drunk straight boys who pushed in immediately following my queer boy friends going to all the effort of pulling me in front. I didn’t have to fend off competitive girls who wanted to be in front at all costs, not caring if others loved the band just as much as them – nope, there was none of that at the Gossip. The show was actually just what you imagine in all your cheesiest, wildest, one-big-family kind of dreams.
Riki jumping on stage to dance with Beth to Yr Mangled Heart set it off for me. And then later, when Standing in the Way of Control was played, her dress came off, and they all got up there, like the whole Team, and the stage was packed. It was a total party, and hands reached down to pull me up, but I didn’t want a sprained ankle again haha, not like this time last year at Limp Wrist. So I stayed on the floor and danced with Katie, the band lost amongst our other friends. I loved that moment when they did “Are You That Someone?” and me and Anoulack could sing along like it was high school, and of course “Careless Whispers” made his night.
Linden said that the Kings Arms was packed all the way to the back, and that almost everyone was dancing – in the whole time I’ve gone to shows at the Kings Arms I’ve never seen that happen – and didn’t see it that night either, I was right in front, and when I turned around I only needed to look at the row behind me, look to the left and right of me.
I was overwhelmed when I saw Kathleen Hanna for the first time, but with Beth it is more like, there she is…your friend who you could be a total fucken spaz fuck up and she’d still love you! Not overwhelming so much as making you feel amazing. I’m sorry, but Kathleen was an ice queen and I never really felt the same about her after the Le Tigre show. “Go out and buy the Slits”, Beth said, “I’ll give you $20 if you buy the Slits…”
At least 2 people said to me that they though the Gossip had to happen to us then, after months of lots of my friends going through depression and heartbreak all at once, and going, what are we doing here? what is there to do? where is our stuff? And then this show broke that mood, and, I really have to say, that night the Gossip saved my life.