The Julie Ruin just about burned down the stage at Portland's Time Based Arts festival last Thursday night. The group kicked off the contemporary arts festival as part of a national tour to celebrate their album Run Fast and as frontwoman Kathleen Hanna launched into their raucous playlist, the room suddenly felt hot, sweaty, and electric.
It's a big deal for Hanna to be on stage at all. The singer who brought seemingly boundless energy to Bikini Kill and Le Tigre has spent the last six years dealing with the effects of Lyme Disease, which hinders both physical and neurological abilities. When we spoke in early September, Hanna talked about living with an invisible disease, how vulnerability can create true confidence, and how the best thing that ever happened to riot grrrl is critique.
I still haven't read Sara Marcus's book on Riot Grrl, Girls to the Front, but I did bring two friends down to a reading in NYC last night that featured Marcus, poet Rachel Eliza Griffiths, and Rob Sheffield.
Marcus gave the most rock'n'roll reading I've ever heard for what's essentially a history book, though a vibrant, living history book built on having lived through that moment and spent years considering, rolling around in what it might mean. She straddled the mic, propped a foot on a monitor, and sang Kathleen Hanna's lyrics in a voice built for punk bands.
Marcus is about to start her book tour, complete with appearances from Jessica Hopper, Anna Oxygen, Kathleen Hanna, Mirah, and Tara Jane Oneil, among others. Girls to the Front is very likely coming to a city near you, and I don't think you'll regret taking part in this Riot Grrrl revival. Check out the complete events list here.
"FEMINISTS, WE'RE CALLING YOU! PLEASE REPORT TO THE FRONT DESK!"
It's fucking hard to be feminist. (If you just made a dick joke to yourself then get the heck outta here!) No one said negotiating power was easy, but that doesn't mean that you can't rock out while challenging the status-quo, being politically active and refusing to compromise your principles. Enter Le Tigre, and for fun's sake, let's put 'em on tour!