Monday, November 24, 2008

Girls Take Stage the Riot Way

It was cold Saturday night, but not too cold to keep Death by Audio in Williamsburg from steaming up with a packed house of punk & indie rockers of all ages. I, among them, was re-living my days as a teenager when I went to shows in the mid to late nineties. "Not much has changed," I thought, noticing the sea of black attire, hoodies, fingerless gloves, great-hair-cut-but-not-clean-head, tattoo and piercing adorned lot. I mean, the cost at the door was still 5 bucks. Hell, I even bumped into a kid I once dated in my teens, who I was not surprised was still rocking this scene as guitarist of the headliner, The Measure.

But something was different. And it wasn't just that there was an equal amount of girls and guys in the audience to distinguish mid-nineties from 2008. Or the eerily familiar dress code. I mean, shit, even the dj played Jawbreaker in-between sets (which I happily sang along to in my head).

It was who performed: a powerful, all-girl band that rocked tightly orchestrated and invigorating guitar riffs, drum patterns and time signatures leaving the guys in the audience spell bound (taking note of the flawless and natural instrument control) and the girls inspired (and slightly turned on). I realized I had always wanted to see this in my youth--girls taking the stage and being completely comfortable doing so. As a musician who has performed across the nation with a variety of bands-an all girl one at that-I realize that life would have happened so much sooner if this was the window of my alternative, underground teen angst life.

Each Other's Mothers rocks. I was right in the front along with a bunch of girls bouncing and pushing--of course, into me--but staring at these super nice, geeky yet serious girls who wear rock star so casually. Maybe because they're just being real. The Mothers put on a show that is worth trekking long and far too. Reminds me of the days that I'd go see Erase Errata and come home to play music or blast songs from their set with my friends for hour-long dance parties on top of my bed.

As a musician and feminist who engages teen girls at the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, it's not always clear how girls live the day to day. But going to this show and seeing my friends perform made me think that within all the same-same there's a lot of new. Teens are getting access to a whole new meaning of gender bending equality alongside the generation ahead of them. It doesn't matter that I'm not a teenager anymore, I can clearly see how freakin awesome this would be for any girl--or guy, for that matter.

It can't hurt having a much more curious and D-I-Y adept generation growing fast behind us "approaching thirty-somethings." Hell, a zine table had more attention then the makeshift bar at the show if that tells you anything. Maybe more punk and indie rock like the Mothers will open up the eager and desiring eyes of our youth to a new way of being, acting, and finding ourselves--and a lot earlier.

The fashion's the same as is the attitude and tiny micro groups within one intricately embroidered macro identity. But Riot grrrl in their hearts, the Mothers and their allies have nothing to prove when they take on the stage. They're meant to be there. Always were. As obvious as the tattoos and eye-wear that signifies "we're in."