It wasn’t at this particular Bikini Kill show in Fargo, but at an earlier one — on 9/21/99 at Exit 99 — that I had my most distinct personal experience with Kathleen Hanna. I was your average insecure high school sophomore finding himself in DIY rock and I’d ventured out to see my friend Heather’s favorite band. I was a fan as well and was very excited for the show. Made my way to the front of the crowd even. Which, at the time I lacked the wisdom to know, was not exactly kosher at a Bikini Kill show. The show gets going and is totally ruling. I’m feeling it. Uuuuntil one of Hanna’s pro-grrrl rants turned anti-boy. She singles wimpy little me out in the crowd with a “No BOY’S in the front row!” and a sneer, punctuating it by taking gum outta her mouth and throwing it at me.
Wow. Humiliating. I was paralyzed. Didn’t know what to do. So I just stood there. Inert. Next song starts. Spotlight slooowly dissipates and I fade into the crowd over the course of the song. Listened to the rest of the show in the back of the crowd, sitting against the wall feeling like a total goober.
I kinda resented Hanna for many years till recently. Dismissed her music as the by-product of a self-important grandstander. Which isn’t fair. Her art was political in nature and empowering to a lot of people, which is pretty cool. It’s just that my enjoyment of her work was tainted by a bad memory of being disempowered. It was watching her performative monologue describing her role in the origin of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in 1990 recently that made me revisit her work and appreciate it from a more objective perspective again. A special, and oft-overlooked, one is her Julie Ruin album. What a record.
(image via lunchyprices)

It wasn’t at this particular Bikini Kill show in Fargo, but at an earlier one — on 9/21/99 at Exit 99 — that I had my most distinct personal experience with Kathleen Hanna. I was your average insecure high school sophomore finding himself in DIY rock and I’d ventured out to see my friend Heather’s favorite band. I was a fan as well and was very excited for the show. Made my way to the front of the crowd even. Which, at the time I lacked the wisdom to know, was not exactly kosher at a Bikini Kill show. The show gets going and is totally ruling. I’m feeling it. Uuuuntil one of Hanna’s pro-grrrl rants turned anti-boy. She singles wimpy little me out in the crowd with a “No BOY’S in the front row!” and a sneer, punctuating it by taking gum outta her mouth and throwing it at me.

Wow. Humiliating. I was paralyzed. Didn’t know what to do. So I just stood there. Inert. Next song starts. Spotlight slooowly dissipates and I fade into the crowd over the course of the song. Listened to the rest of the show in the back of the crowd, sitting against the wall feeling like a total goober.

I kinda resented Hanna for many years till recently. Dismissed her music as the by-product of a self-important grandstander. Which isn’t fair. Her art was political in nature and empowering to a lot of people, which is pretty cool. It’s just that my enjoyment of her work was tainted by a bad memory of being disempowered. It was watching her performative monologue describing her role in the origin of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in 1990 recently that made me revisit her work and appreciate it from a more objective perspective again. A special, and oft-overlooked, one is her Julie Ruin album. What a record.

(image via lunchyprices)

I’ve seen his record covers through the years and always been a little intrigued by Frankie Miller, but somehow — content to park him alongside the Rory Gallaghers and Robin Trowers of the world — assumed I’d find them about as musically uninteresting as I found John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (who I desperately wanted to get into when I was in love with all-things-Eric Clapton in my mid-teens, but ended up coming to the conclusion that you maybe had to be a British schoolboy — still terrified by James Brown’s hips & lips — to properly enjoy). So I stayed away from the Scottish singer’s albums. Until last week. I ran across his Full House album (from 1977) on a blog and downloaded it on the strength of the album cover alone. How could I not give it a try. He looked like Braveheart at the mic, lost in an ecstatic moment. Was it before battle, mid-battle or after? I had to find out. I was instantly seized by his voice. It took me back to the eighth grade, when I was just discovering Joe Cocker, Bad Company, Thin Lizzy and Rod Stewart by way of Q-98 (Fargo’s classic rock radio station), BMG & Columbia House tape clubs (I didn’t get into CDs until a year or so later) and the public library’s LP collection. The combination of a great rock band, a passionately soulful vocalist unafraid to let his voice break (to be taken to its illogical conclusion a year later when I first heard Nevermind) and a particularly great repertoire struck a chord with me. It felt like I was driving my Chevy Cavalier down University Drive again, windows down, my home speakers blaring fat & punctured (I hadn’t yet figured out that home speakers don’t sound as good in a car), my shades too big for my face. Frankie felt like an old friend I was meeting for the first time. By the time I was done with Full House, I had Once In a Blue Moon (1972) and The Rock (1975) in cue. I was not disappointed by either. Once in a Blue Moon — with pub rock band Brinsley Schwarz as the backup band — feels like the winner of the three so far, and I’ve only made it a few passes through each of these albums.

I’ve seen his record covers through the years and always been a little intrigued by Frankie Miller, but somehow — content to park him alongside the Rory Gallaghers and Robin Trowers of the world — assumed I’d find them about as musically uninteresting as I found John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (who I desperately wanted to get into when I was in love with all-things-Eric Clapton in my mid-teens, but ended up coming to the conclusion that you maybe had to be a British schoolboy — still terrified by James Brown’s hips & lips — to properly enjoy). So I stayed away from the Scottish singer’s albums.

Until last week. I ran across his Full House album (from 1977) on a blog and downloaded it on the strength of the album cover alone. How could I not give it a try. He looked like Braveheart at the mic, lost in an ecstatic moment. Was it before battle, mid-battle or after? I had to find out.

I was instantly seized by his voice. It took me back to the eighth grade, when I was just discovering Joe Cocker, Bad Company, Thin Lizzy and Rod Stewart by way of Q-98 (Fargo’s classic rock radio station), BMG & Columbia House tape clubs (I didn’t get into CDs until a year or so later) and the public library’s LP collection. The combination of a great rock band, a passionately soulful vocalist unafraid to let his voice break (to be taken to its illogical conclusion a year later when I first heard Nevermind) and a particularly great repertoire struck a chord with me. It felt like I was driving my Chevy Cavalier down University Drive again, windows down, my home speakers blaring fat & punctured (I hadn’t yet figured out that home speakers don’t sound as good in a car), my shades too big for my face. Frankie felt like an old friend I was meeting for the first time. By the time I was done with Full House, I had Once In a Blue Moon (1972) and The Rock (1975) in cue. I was not disappointed by either. Once in a Blue Moon — with pub rock band Brinsley Schwarz as the backup band — feels like the winner of the three so far, and I’ve only made it a few passes through each of these albums.