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LIVE: Bikini Kill – The Rechabite, Perth, 1st March 2023

| 4 March 2023 | Reply

LIVE: Bikini Kill – The Rechabite, Perth, 1st March 2023
As part of Perth Festival 2023
Reviewed by Karen Lowe

Officially supplied photo by Cam Campbell

As I was driving to The Rechabite, my thoughts were on Bikini Kill, the Riot Grrrl movement, and its relevance to today’s society. I was also trying to search the memory banks on Perth bands with similar styles to Bikini Kill however, to my dismay, I kept coming up blank. As someone who prides themselves on what I thought was extensive knowledge of the local scene, I am thoroughly ashamed. The good news though, is that this shame has opened up a door where a whole new realm of bands lay beyond, and new experiences await.

In the hall, there were several generations of fans – from teenagers to baby boomers – all waiting with anticipation of the night ahead. At the front, it was filled with mostly women and girls. That’s not to say there weren’t any men there. There were plenty.

For those like me who love their punk music and who love their local scene, one place to start is with the opening act for the night – Cold Meat. They have been around for almost 10 years now and are known in the underground scene. They don’t have a Facebook page or Instagram, but a quick Google search will take you to links to their music and reviews from punk magazines across the world.

They are fast, raw, powerful, exciting and ever so slightly un-nerving with the high pitch squeals of feedback emanating from their amps. Their sound is very unapologetic and in your face which makes them the perfect opener for Bikini Kill.

Bikini Kill came out on stage and opened with New Radio, This Is Not A Test and Don’t Need You. They are exactly as you would imagine – an absolute well-oiled powerhouse who know how to command an audience. There isn’t anything that I could say about their performance that hasn’t been said before.

They swapped instruments with ease, Kathleen Hanna sung or screamed lyrics that hold just as much meaning now as when they were first written and Tobi Vail banged the drums as well as coming out from behind them to sing as well.

Officially supplied photo by Cam Campbell

Whilst that all made for a great show, it was the words that Kathleen Hanna and even Tobi Vail said to the audience that made it a POWERFUL show.

This is the part of the review that I have struggled with. How to word it, how to convey the feelings that radiated throughout the venue. This is also the part where I need to give out TRIGGER WARNINGS.

I debated not speaking about it but, as a woman myself, I had to ask myself – WHY didn’t I initially want to report on exactly what happened at the show. Was it to protect survivors? Or to mistakenly protect Bikini Kill? Or was it because we have been taught not to speak about it.

If you are reading on, you will realise that I had to speak about it. To do anything less would actually be disrespectful to Bikini Kill; to all survivors; to myself as a woman; to everything that Bikini Kill and all the other bands of the Riot Grrrl movement that put themselves out there have stood proudly for. Rather than go into the Riot Grrrl movement here, I implore you to look it up and research it yourself.

It wasn’t long into the set that Hanna asked the lighting people to get the light out of her face as it was so hot on stage. She explained that she is going through menopause and that she didn’t need that extra heat.

She also told us that she wasn’t in a great mood, and that she was ANGRY. She spoke about how she was raped when she was 18 and how it had taken her ‘til only very recently that she realised that the girl that she was the day before it happened was gone forever. But that it’s ok. She can only be who she is now, and she has come to accept that.

The room was almost silent as she spoke and, while I can’t speak for everyone there, I could feel the rage; the sadness; the regret and loss for that long ago girl. The anger in the next song was so palpable that you could almost touch it. It was almost uncomfortable – but it was an uncomfortable that we all need to face, even if just enough to stop being scared about being vocal about another’s bad behaviour.

It was just before Vail was about to sing again that Hanna ran off stage with her hands to her face. Her bandmates looked uncertainly at each other. When I saw that, my heart just about broke with sorrow. Vail took the lead and told us how guys in bands would always try and offer advice to them – talking down to them about how to play, how to be in a band, because they were female. She explained that one of the ways her and her bandmates ended up dealing with it was to tell whoever it was to get on their knees and bark like a dog.


When Hanna got back to the mic she thanked the audience for being patient with her. She simply stated that she had needed to cry and that is what she did. She explained how she was always told to go into a corner, to not be seen showing such emotions. We needed to change that, she insisted, and normalise our feelings – no matter what our gender.

The sad thing is that Bikini Kill’s lyrics shouldn’t mean so much today. They shouldn’t have the impact that they still do. That impact should have faded into a society that had changed for the better.

Why did I have to share these parts of the show one may ask?

Simply put – it’s because they are still happening today. It’s because we need to normalise our emotions. We need to speak about menopause, and about being angry and needing to cry – without anyone judging us for it. We should be able to share our story and share the good times as well as the bad with each other. As Hanna told us, “it’s not all rainbows.”

Bikini Kill’s performance was one of the most powerful that I have witnessed, and I have seen a LOT of different bands. The best thing was that there were so many different generations in the one room, all witnessing something so special, so raw and so powerful.

This is what Riot Grrrl means to me in today’s society. It is more relevant than ever. When she talks, I hear the revolution.

New Radio
This Is Not a Test
Don’t Need You
Alien She
Feels Blind
I Hate Danger
In Accordance to Natural Law
Resist Psychic Death
I Like Fucking
Capri Pants
Outta Me
(10 min Break after the song)
For Only
Distinct Complicity
Demi Rep
Reject All American
Jigsaw Youth
Rah! Rah! Replica
Hamster Baby
Tell Me So
Lil’ Red
Suck My Left One

Double Dare Ya
Rebel Girl


Category: Live Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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