It matters to me
February 26, 2014 11:52 AM   Subscribe

In March 1993 Bikini Kill toured the UK. "It Changed My Life" is a film about that tour, with openers Huggy Bear, & contributions by the Raincoats, Sister George, and Skinned Teen.

More early 90s Riot Grrl from a UK video-zine released at the time: Getting Close To Nothing
posted by Potomac Avenue (14 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

this is a film about the seedy underbelly of the carnival... the part that only the kids know about
posted by nathancaswell at 11:57 AM on February 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

In case you were also a fan of Huggy Bear at the time and now wonder whether they really were as world-historically badass as you thought when you were 14, check out this vignette from their wiki page:

"On February 14, 1993, Huggy Bear performed "Her Jazz" on the British television programme, The Word. After their set, the band stayed in the studio to watch a report on two American models who called themselves "The Barbi Twins". Huggy Bear and their fans became upset at this and started shouting at the show's presenter Terry Christian. They were ejected from the studio, and a spokesperson for The Word later said that one of the band's friends had "bit the face of a member of our production team.""

As far as I know the only place to get their music is on youtube. :C
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:58 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Man, I'd forgotten how thoroughly shit Huggy Bear were. No wait, I hadn't. Interesting to see again though, and interesting times musically, in the UK.
posted by Decani at 12:06 PM on February 26, 2014

You can still get copies of Huggybear CDs if you are willing to pay.

Or, if you are me, you still have your "Weaponry Listens To Love" CD" and your Bikini Kill/Huggybear split EP and an old, old Huggybear spraypaint logo t-shirt that you bought at Motoroil Industrial Coffee/Speedboat Gallery from the incredibly scary member of the band who was at the merch table. I also made my own Huggybear t-shirt by tracing the cover of the EP. They were an exceedingly fierce band and absolutely terrifying, bad-tempered performers. It is one of very, very few shows from that phase of my life that I was really excited about and in the moment enough to enjoy.

I am not really enamored of the way Bikini Kill (and Kathleen Hannah) gets fetishized now. There's this weird re-narration of Riot Grrl which obscures the mistakes, the anti-hero nature of the whole project, the way it was a product of pre-internet, how extremely white it, I was around back then and it was cool, but now it's this sort of XOJane (which is bizarre because everyone loathed Jane Pratt) fashion cool-retro thing, and I think that does harm.
posted by Frowner at 12:12 PM on February 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oooh, this will be a nice follow-up to The Punk Singer. Actually I wouldn't be surprised a fair amount of the footage in It Changed My Life is in the Kathleen Hanna documentary.

And I don't know Sister George or Skinned Teen so they'll be fun to explore, too.

But oh, my Huggy Bear were such a great band. Will have to have a relisten soon; it's been too long!
posted by mountmccabe at 12:13 PM on February 26, 2014

The Our Troubled Youth EP wasn't shit. It was just about the only riot grrl production which really spoke to me - all the other stuff seemed to be for, like, cool non-abject girls who wore cute vintage dresses and were adorkably trangressive. Huggybear wasn't about being liked, and the EP is just blistering. God, it really takes me back to a particular terrible winter and being so cold and having an awful coat and being so miserable I'm surprised I'm alive now.
posted by Frowner at 12:15 PM on February 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

Riot Grrrrrl was a lot less white than most rock subcultures in the 90s though. Especially in DC.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:32 PM on February 26, 2014

Most riot grrl music was just very amatuerish. Now to me that's a positive thing, some of my favorite songs were singles by untrained 60s garage bands, 70s punk bands, and 80s hardcore or post-punk bands. But fetishization of the style aside, Bikini Kill just legit ROCKS. Especially Rebel Girl. That's like AC/DC-level eggs-out classic guitar blasting.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:37 PM on February 26, 2014

Riot Grrrrrl was a lot less white than most rock subcultures in the 90s though. Especially in DC.

Well yeah. I think Riot Grrrl was pretty good in a lot of ways and there sure were important riot grrrl participants of color. Plus there was some consciously anti-racist discourse, at least where I was. It's not that I think we should all hang our heads in shame or something - it's that the whole "ooooh it was so cool and I really love dark lipstick" thing that is going around in the smarter kind of fashion circle makes it out to be these perfect halcyon days and makes like everyone was politically perfect, when they/we weren't at all.

(For people like me, at least, a lot of the whiteness piece was "this is before the internet" - I lived in a really segregated town, it was literally actually difficult to find and find out about work by black writers and a lot of my cultural information came from underground stuff and zines via really was this total information desert. I mean, it was like a big giant deal if you found a Toni Morrison novel at the library, that's the level of "not having access" that we're talking about, the "maybe you have heard some rap music if your family can afford to have cable and you are allowed to watch MTV" level of access. I think that a lot of white girls who were my general type were involved in Riot Grrrl and there was just a lot of stuff about which we were so ignorant that we didn't even realize we were ignorant. I was there, and I don't want to fetishize or excuse that ignorance and the way it made a lot of women of color feel excluded and crummy.)
posted by Frowner at 12:41 PM on February 26, 2014

I thought Huggy Bear was a reference to the obscure rapper who used to crew with J-Zone and Al Shid...sad I was wrong, the timeline almost works.
posted by Edgewise at 12:43 PM on February 26, 2014

It's also so weird to realize that I actually was there - I mean, I remember that shit. I went to shows - although not really the important shows, except for Huggybear - I read all those fanzines people talk about like Hungry Girl and Hit It Or Quit It, I met some of those people, I wore the whole ripped up vintage dress and tatty too-small cardigan and fake fur coat and dark lipstick and combat boots look, I made a zine (most issues were terrible; one was okay; one was actually pretty good). I still have some of that stuff, although my big box of zines got lost in a move.
posted by Frowner at 12:44 PM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

It is weird when your youth turns into nostalgia culture. The only choices seem to be A. Document everything aggressively. Write a book/blog about how things really were. B. Give in to the hagiography or C. Ignore it until it slips into near obscurity like the trends and subcultures of the mid-20th century are doing now.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:53 PM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

If anyone is curious as to a scene that's happening in Olympia these days, check out Hysterics. They kick ass.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 10:47 PM on February 26, 2014

As far as I know the only place to get their music is on youtube.

Soulseek is still pretty good for finding long out-of-print music.
posted by K.P. at 4:27 AM on February 27, 2014

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