From the balcony of Terminal/ Radier Beavis and Butthead Take Off That shirt. mother and her daughter are dancing to Bikini Kill’s “Feels Blind.” Down below in the pit, people with candy-color hair are moshing. A person with a long green mane rams her body into someone who has stripped down to their bra. If they were strangers before, the brute visceral force of punk has brought them together in this moment. That, and Kathleen Hanna, singing about how to be a woman is to be acquainted with hunger and thirst.
The last Bikini Kill show before this tour cycle took place the year after I was born, in 1997 Radier Beavis and Butthead Take Off That shirt. That’s also when Olympia, Washington, punks Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail, Billy Karren, and Kathi Wilcox unceremoniously broke up and embarked on various new projects. At the time of their split, they had already sealed their fate as legends, with cult-hit records like Pussy Whipped, and Reject All American. Bikini Kill is to feminist punk bands what the Velvet Underground was to legions of art rock bands in the ‘70s and ‘80s; they made everyone else want to start one. Without Bikini Kill and the notion of girls to the front, the radical possibilities of pleasure, and the dream of DIY or die wouldn’t exist in the way that it does now for bands on micro punk labels across the world. Bikini Kill entered my life at some point during my freshman year of high school in suburban Albany, New York. I remember reading some blog post on the song “Rebel Girl,” and feeling utterly shattered. I’d play it on my little silver iPod nano and walk around my hometown after school muttering the lyrics under my breath: “They say / She’s a dyke / but I know / she is my best friend!” Hanna sings in the song’s hook as a stringent punk guitar part catches hold and pulls the listener under like a riptide. There was an overwhelming amount of pleasure and urgency in hearing these women talk about telling men to back off. I was a teenage girl, attempting to parse together an identity, angry because I was alive. Bikini Kill was my boy band and my girl group. They were my whole world.
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