Photo by Ken Sears
I've been a fan of Bikini Kill for what seems like forever, but for some reason I've never gotten a chance to see them live. The Boston date has been moved, cancelled, changed venues, and rescheduled seemingly into oblivion over the past three years, but it finally happened this past Sunday night.
Bikini Kill in 2023 should be a pure nostalgia act, and the crowd should be filled with fans in their forties and fifties reliving their high school and college years, and there was that. But a huge percentage of the crowd was comprised of teenagers and college students who just recently discovered Bikini Kill and were seeing their new idols for the first time. And Bikini Kill delivered.
From the opening cry of "Revolution girl style now!" in "Double Dare Ya," they blasted through twenty three songs that are all classics at this point. The younger crowd injected an energy into the entire experience for everyone involved. Kathleen Hanna was delighted at the mosh pit during "No Backrub," a song about self care. My moshing days are long over, and a Bikini Kill mosh pit is no place for a middle aged white cis male, but I felt more nostalgic watching the pit at this show than I ever have before. I make the joke that most pits tend to be kids larping the 90's, but these kids nailed it. It was more just bouncing around into each other to have fun and experience a fantastic night of music together. The kids were all right...
As was expected, Hanna discussed politics a lot between songs, but there were great moments of levity along with the (unfortunately still relevant) politics. While holding a bouquet of flowers, she joked that she hopes she doesn't get blamed for ripping anyone off, which was an obvious shot at the nonsense Courtney Love/Olivia Rodrigo controversy. At one point Hanna realized that a venue filled with over two thousand people was dead silent and was hanging on her every word, and she said the crowd just undid years of generational trauma.
The main set closed with the always fiery "Suck My Left One" and included the fantastic "Carnival." They came back for a one song encore, which was obviously "Rebel Girl." You knew it was going to be played and when, but it still didn't lessen the impact of seeing THAT song performed live. While many of their peers are engaging in cash grab reunions, Bikini Kill are doing it for all the right reasons, and it shows.
Brontez Purnell wasn't an obvious opener, but one that worked quite well. He's primarily known as a writer more than a musician, but for those of us that enjoy not completely obvious openers, he was perfect. Purnell's music is more lighthearted with definite 90's indie rock roots, and it might have been the perfect choice to ease us all into the evening.
Check out our photo album for this show over at Facebook.