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 walked into Other Music in New York's East Village, and asked the bearded, plaid-ed clerk, hoping he had the iconic music zine's 17th print edition in stock.
His Beardedness pointed me to a shelf with several other too-cool-for-school publications, and there it was: in all of its horizontal, blue, Grass Widow-covered glory, "legendary indie nerd bible" chickfactor.
A couple of years ago I saw ex-Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna speak in New York City, right before she donated her musical archives to New York University's Fales Library. I was struck by her acerbic wit, her 'I don't give a fuck' attitude.
While I was a teenager during the grunge and Riot Grrrl era, for some reason I was (at the time) more drawn to hyper-masculine, testosterone-saturated grunge and metal bands and was not that interested in what was happening on the other side of the scene. As Hanna's talk was intriguing, I took the opportunity to check out The Punk Singer, part of the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto.
About 10 minutes into the documentary, I knew that I had made a colossal mistake.
What better way to celebrate the time of giving than by giving back to your favorite labels, artists and general-music-enablers and purchasing some of their finest goods for a friend? 2012 was a great year for music, so step away from the dangfangled Internets and go into the real world and buy some albums! (Or embrace the internet and shop from your favorite label's e-store!)
Sometimes our BitchTapes are about colors, elements, or seasons. Other times they're about cover songs or friendship. This time, we thought we'd dedicate a playlist to a very cool label called Burger Records. Haven't heard of them yet? They're a small outfit based out of Fullerton, California and they've been releasing quality records and tapes since 2007. This week, they put out an incredible 71-song compilation featuring some of the best bands Burger has to offer. It's just $10 and proceeds go to funding a life-saving surgery for a weiner dog named Popcorn. Not sure you're ready to shell out the dough? Think of this BitchTapes as a very small sampling of some of our favorite Burger babes.
The Hysteric's sole blog post has a neat hook. They've backdated it to October 30, 1989, suggesting two things: All Hallows' Eve, and old-school punk rock. The date implies both the sugary rush of Halloween menace ("this song is about the true promise of Halloween, extorting candy by threat, from parents") and the post-Reagan years when punk realized there was still an establishment to rally against. Do yourself a favor and jump in the pit with Hysterics when they come through town on their cross-country tour.
Temperatures are still in the mid 90s and the sun's still setting after eight o'clock, but we need to brace ourselves for the eventual changing of the seasons. Luckily, we've got the perfect cure for, or accompaniment to, the end-of-summer blues: Brooklyn's Katie Crutchfield, better known as Waxahatchee. Her quiet tape echo ballads seem borne of the universe found sandwiched between two sheets and covered by a well-worn duvet.
One fateful evening in a kitchen in Brooklyn in the winter of 2008, I stood leaning on a window, freezing air seeping into the sweaty room. A woman emerged from the bathroom wearing a modest black dress with a white collar. In the smallest voice, she said, "We're Screaming Females and we're from New Jersey." My eyes lit up.