Reviewed on Friday January 17
Kathleen Hanna, frontwoman of The Julie Ruin, has long been the face of the riot grrrl revolution. But 20 years after Hanna’s heyday, her new Brooklyn-grown band came onstage at Marrickville’s Factory Theatre with as much fervour as ever. ’Cause though Hanna may have come dressed fit for church, her pretty blue dress still managed a feminine-is-badass-and-I-will-stomp-on-you-with-my-kitten-heels aesthetic. And every bit the punk princess, she really did wear kitten heels, and they really did do a lil’ stomping.
Hanna claimed to have danced like a loser at her school prom, but she wasn’t lying when she said, “Tonight, I’ll make up for that.” Despite suffering from the exhausting Lyme disease, Hanna bounced, moved like a robot and played an air guitar all night. Mmkay – some might call that dancing like a loser, but to others it’s damn cool.
Armed with Hanna’s fellow Bikini Kill veteran KathiWilcox (along with Kenny Mellman of Kiki and Herb, Sara Landeau and Carmine Covelli), The Julie Ruin haven’t fallen far from the tree. Combining their ’90s punk stylings with the electro sounds of Hanna’s Le Tigre project, what’s left are tracks like ‘Girls Like Us’ that are equal parts pleasurable and political. Hanna screamed the way a good grrrl should through lyrics “Girls like us use highlighter pens / Especially to write our poems”and “Girls like us are most perfect / When we’re biting off all our fingernails”.
Performing a range of Julie Ruin, Bikini Kill and Le Tigre tracks meant pleasing fans both old and new. And along with the energetic Mellman on keyboards – who really knows how to wail and thrash a head of hair – Hanna made plenty of banter with the audience, for which the Factory Theatre was the perfect setting. None of us – with our angry t-shirts, chunky boots, miniskirts and much sass – could have asked for more.