Thinking back to times of yore when we could still gather, I used to be thrilled when young women, non-binary, queer folks, etc. would be up front at our shows. Hell, even if they were just in the room. Every show, I just wanted to high-five the new kids, and thank y’all for being there. Despite the fact that my friends used the term “kids” to describe ourselves long into actual adulthood, I am definitely not one anymore.
Anyone who has been involved in music or art long enough to prove to their parents it’s not just a phase knows that power dynamics within any creative circle are weird and unspoken and often seem unalterable. Whether it’s a national headliner or just a big fish in a small pond, bad behavior often goes unchecked for the sake of staying in the good graces of the “cool kids”, whoever they are.
It makes me indescribably angry, giant vein in the forehead level rage, when I hear stories of grown men grooming and preying on young girls who just want to be a part of something cool. Fans deserve all of the respect and it sickens me that some would disregard them and their power. As we’ve seen this past week, when fans collectively catch on to your unapologetic bullshit they will quite literally end your project. We can talk about public accountability another day, but sometimes that accountability should look like someone not running a label or being in a band anymore.
My friend Candace Hansen, teacher at UCLA and drummer of bands like Alice Bag Band, Yaawn, dimber and more, shares a similar experience with me, coming of age as a queer person in a scene that did not hold a whole lot of space for them. We didn’t have a lot of examples to work with, so we made our own. Candace recently wrote a statement about Alice Bag Band dropping off of Burger Boogaloo and I wanted to share an excerpt that speaks to that side of community-building:
I spent a significant amount of my life organizing intentional queer feminist events and spaces in Orange County IN OPPOSITION TO organizations and scenes like Burger and the toxic OC punk scenes I was a part of. I invested so much time into Rock Camp for Girls OC in hopes that there would never be another young woman/queer kid in our community who had to show their tits or feel unsafe or be drugged and groped and put on display in creepy ways to grown men just to play the drums or write about a cool band. I started writing for the OC Weekly TO write about the queer and feminist bands that never got attention or recognition or gigs since it was people like Burger or other worshippers of toxic indie masculinity who were often the cultural gatekeepers in our community, BECAUSE I wanted other women, queer and trans folks to be able to look at the music section in the local paper and actually be able to envision themselves outside of a backroom or the sidelines of music.
There are so many people in so many scenes across the country, across the world, working with that vision in mind. Every time we hear of another abuser or creep it feels like a slap in the face. IT IS EXHAUSTING. But I’m still holding out hope that we can get to a point where folks no longer care what the cool kids think. Certain behavior just trumps your cool card.
I want to use this space to remind y’all about some rad new-ish bands and lift up some young folks who are making awesome music. The recommendations below have been pulled from responses to these tweets which went further into the internet than I expected. Who knew ending it with “can get fucked” would go over so well!
Okay, so I come from the land of DIY where young bands put together comps that at best sound like a Guided By Voices home recording, so I had to do a double take when a bunch of the songs on this are radio-ready punk and pop along with some more gritty punk and hardcore. Wild. This was recommended to me by comp creators Hoity-Toity who are an all-girl alternative rock band from California that I would expect to hear on the radio between Camila Cabello and Paramore or something. Go check them out and buy the comp!
This all-queer, Black and Brown punk band has popped up in my feed a few times now. They released a new album Gentrified Chicken in April. In addition to folks just vibing on them (they’re rad!), they recently posted a disheartening but very punk story of being kicked out of big “industry” opportunities for being too political. It ends with this:
And now here are more bands that were recommended to me that I am now passing along to you!!
- a song about The Little Mermaid
- songs escaping Pizza Monster Island
- the band Light, who reminds me of The Gossip
- the band Nectar, aka “if Chumped and Josie and the Pussycats had a baby”
- and the song everyone needs, “A Shitty Gay Song About You”
While I’m not sure how things are operating these days, if you’d like to get involved in or donate to Girls Rock Camp, there are camps all over the world and kids everywhere who are looking for mentorship and a safer space to make music. Check out Girls Rock Camp Alliance for more info!
Thanks for reading. Stay safe. Please wear a mask.