[TypicalGirls] Riot Grrrl: genre vs. musical-political ethos

Mike Appelstein mike at appelstein.com
Thu Sep 13 21:59:44 EDT 2007

Not to change subjects too dramatically, but one thing Tobi said really
relates to this very list:

<<it is no coincidence that bands that are associated with typical girls
were not taken seriously as part of the punk/post punk canon until after
riot grrl happened. we used to right down a list of these bands for every
girl we met who was wanting more.  we'd go here: go find records by these
bands: 1. raincoats. 2. slits 3. delta 5 etc.>>

I've probably said this before, but I was a college DJ in the mid to late
1980s.  This was not a golden age of gender equality in music, nor were
indie listeners' ears quite as tuned to enthusiastic amateurism or, heck, a
female band member who wasn't just a vocalist or keyboard player.  I'd play
the Raincoats, Delta 5, Scrawl*, Talulah Gosh and early K (including Tobi's
various bands), and people would call up, actually angry!  I got a rep as
"the DJ who plays all the girl bands," which wasn't really true.

Riot grrrl changed the game completely.  It was often ridiculed and
misunderstood when it first appeared in 1991 - even I said some really
thoughtless things, which I've never stopped regretting even 15 years later.
But within a few years, it was suddenly no longer a big deal to have men and
women the same band sharing songwriting/performing duties equally, or to
literally be learning how to play onstage.  And all of a sudden progenitors
like the Slits and the Raincoats were being taken a lot more seriously.
Personally, I think riot grrrl got *really* good a couple of years into it,
when Huggy Bear and Skinned Teen began creating amazing, cacophonous
recordings that still kept a sense of ragged melody - I heard lots of
LiLiPut and Kleenex in both of them, whether intentionally or not.  Now
there are 19-year-old kids who know way more about post-punk than I ever
did, a la "Losing My Edge."  That's fine.  It's great to discover things I
didn't or couldn't find the first time.

And it all happened without the Internet.  I wonder if there will ever be
another DIY musical movement like riot grrrl or early punk.  Perhaps the
Internet, and especially Etsy, YouTube and Flickr, have mainstreamed DIY to
the point where a "revolution" couldn't happen the same way.  A refinement,


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