Founded in 1990 in Olympia, Washington, the quartet — at the start made up of vocalist Kathleen Hanna, bassist Kathi Wilcox, drummer Tobi Vail, and guitarist Billy Karren — sought to wreck down the patriarchal constraints of a tune scene that had lengthy been reserved solely for white males. Defined as a lot by way of feminist lyrics and powerhouse taking part in in addition to its longstanding dedication to bringing extra girls into the larger punk motion, Bikini Kill emerged as one of the vital influential voices in organising the feminist rebel grrrl motion and tune style of the early Nineties.
Among the rebel grrrls’ many targets had been to create secure areas for girls in reside tune, inspire impartial and empowered creativity via DIY zine-making, and advertise their radical conception of “girl power.” Bikini Kill, in conjunction with different bands like Babes in Toyland and Bratmobile, was once instrumental in carving out the motion’s feminist priorities from the start. After all, it was once in a 1991 factor of a Bikini Kill zine that the “Riot Grrrl Manifesto” was once first revealed. Among the targets indexed for this “angry grrrl revolution” had been to “make it easier for girls to see [and] hear each other’s work,” to reject “someone else’s (boy) standards of what is or isn’t,” and to “take over the means of production in order to create our own moanings.”
The motion unfold all of a sudden, from Washington to Washington, D.C., and prolonged past the area of tune: Riot grrrls arranged marches towards rape tradition, held weekly organizing conferences, and another way advocated for “revolutionary” resistance towards capitalism and sexism alike. The coining of the time period “girl power” stays a testomony to the band’s importance inside the rebel grrrl motion but in addition the wider motion’s dedication to making extra available avenues for girls in punk.
And regardless that imperfect — the motion suffered from co-optation by way of extra business “girl power” teams just like the Spice Girls and has since been criticized for apart from LGBTQ+ communities, girls of colour, and another way marginalized teams — the rebel grrrl legacy is powerful and far-reaching. Indeed, Bikini Kill’s personal unapologetically feminist slant can also be noticed in numerous rebel grrrl-inspired bands and artists that experience adopted, from Sleater-Kinney within the overdue ‘90s to Paramore in the late aughts.
It is this complex and resonant legacy that Bikini Kill (which reunited in 2019 with Hanna, Vail, Wilcox, and new guitarist Erica Dawn Lyle) will carry onstage with them at its May 27 and May 28 shows at the Ground in Miami, put on in collaboration with Little Haiti’s Sweat Records. The displays, which have been rescheduled from 2020, are one of the vital band’s first few earlier than they embark on a months-long international excursion that can see them via September.
With this new excursion underway, the band’s and rebel grrrls’ legacy turns into person who now has room to develop in additional tactics than one. Speaking with Pitchfork in 2019 about “girls to the front,” a rallying motto that Bikini Kill helped popularize within the ‘90s, for instance, Hanna stated, “In this day and age, it doesn’t mean the same thing for a white cisgendered woman to say ‘women to the front.’ When there were three women in the room, the point was to bring those three women to the front — but not when it’s 80 percent.”
At the similar time, unapologetically punk tracks coming from artists like Olivia Rodrigo and viral sensations the Linda Lindas (who’ve opened for Bikini Kill) are proving that the rebel grrrl ethos is as related as ever. Indeed, as girls within the U.S. face yr 3 of a virulent disease that has disproportionately harmed them, a Supreme Court this is primed to remove fundamental reproductive rights, and a backlash to #MeToo that looks at the not-too-distant horizon, it’s no marvel that Bikini Kill’s messaging and activism have confirmed a touchpoint for rising artists and younger folks. In this kind of political panorama, songs like Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” and “Don’t Need You” supply a vital respite from and an street of resistance to the norm.
“These same issues still exist,” Vail stated in an interview with the Guardian again when the band first reunited in 2019, referencing the continual issues that the rebel grrrls fought teeth and nail to deal with again within the ‘90s. “Being a woman in public is very intense, whether it’s in the public eye or just walking down the street at night by yourself.”
Today, the rebel grrrl motion extra extensively is discovering resonance on TikTok. This renaissance has maintained the subculture’s aesthetics and politics, simplest this time, it is led by way of Gen Z creators pissed off with simply how little has modified since Bikini Kill first stepped on a degree over 30 years in the past and outlined “riot grrrl” with their electrical guitars in tow. Younger generations are spotting the various similarities between then and now, which is precisely what makes this upcoming Bikini Kill excursion so thrilling. It’s a chance to unfold the band’s ongoing feminist message even additional — and jam out to a couple nice punk tune on the similar time.