"What's it like to be a girl in a band?"
July 2, 2022 5:59 AM   Subscribe

The Women Who Built Grunge Artists mentioned include L7, 7 Year Bitch, Babes in Toyland, Maxi Badd, Hammerbox, Fastbacks, Lazy Susan, Bam Bam, Heavens to Betsy, Sleater-Kinney, Bratmobile, Bikini Kill, Sonic Youth, The Slits, Chalk Circle, Shonen Knife, The Breeders, and The Gits.

(Before someone else points it out: it's not a 100% accurate history, but it is a great appreciation.)
posted by box (32 comments total) 78 users marked this as a favorite
People forget the 90s had about a billion all- or mostly-women bands, and that is a damned shame.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:28 AM on July 2, 2022 [19 favorites]

People forget the 90s had about a billion all- or mostly-women bands, and that is a damned shame.

I think about Lilith Fair often and how it felt like a movement at the time.
posted by hippybear at 8:46 AM on July 2, 2022 [15 favorites]

Must add Hole.
As a 13yo Courtney’s lack of fucks to give was breathtaking.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:04 AM on July 2, 2022 [18 favorites]

Tuscadero - "Leather Idol"

posted by SoberHighland at 9:50 AM on July 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

Scrawl - Your Mother Wants to Know
posted by box at 9:57 AM on July 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

The Tuscadero song makes me nostalgic for nostalgia from a time past.
posted by SoberHighland at 10:00 AM on July 2, 2022 [3 favorites]

Scrawl's Marcy Mays has one of the most underrated voices of the era. It's best highlighted on the Afghan Whigs' My Curse.
posted by dobbs at 10:13 AM on July 2, 2022 [5 favorites]


I don't have a link for it, but My Curse was originally supposed to be a duet between Mays and Dulli. When he heard her sing the whole thing through he didn't even bother to sing a vocal on it, because she nailed it so amazingly.

I've heard a live performance of Dulli singing the song and he really doesn't do it justice after what Mays did.

Mays has vocals on the new Whigs album coming out soon, and I CAN'T WAIT to hear her.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 11:13 AM on July 2, 2022 [3 favorites]

Thanks, St. Peepsburg. I was scanning the list and Hole's absence seemed like a big clanger.
posted by maxwelton at 11:55 AM on July 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

PJ Harvey, in at least one incarnation
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 12:21 PM on July 2, 2022 [12 favorites]

Yeah, Harvey's 'Rid of Me' was life changing for me. I had grown up thinking that passion and aggression were inherently male traits. PJ Harvey, in no uncertain terms, made it clear to me that I was an idiot.
posted by Quonab at 12:38 PM on July 2, 2022 [8 favorites]

Yeah, REALLY happy to hear Tuscadero again!!! I had both the original and the mainstream-label remixed versions of the Pink Album.

(But weren't the Slits a '70s band? I put "No One's Little Girl" on so many mix tapes...)
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 1:02 PM on July 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

Just throwing another into the mix, Medicine's Shot Forth Self Living was a noise revelation, though possibly a little closer to the shoegaze side. That track and Christmas Song probably would have been the cause of my lost hearing if I was old enough to go at the time. Looking forward to reading this and checking out some of the bands I missed!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:57 PM on July 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

I djed a radio show called Spinsters On Air on the local campus-community station in Halifax, focusing only on music for which the vocalists were women, in the '90s during the Halifax Explosion when subpop briefly took an interest in our scene (including bands like Plumtree, Rebecca West, and Jale). We also played folk and hip-hop, but mostly grunge and alternative.

Great article - thanks for posting it!
posted by joannemerriam at 7:54 PM on July 2, 2022 [5 favorites]

Also, Spinanes, Throwing Muses (+ Belly & Kirsten Hersh), Muffs, Boss Hogg; the no-wave adjacent Pussy Galore, Action Swingers, Royal Trux... Julia Cafritz, Christina Martinez, Jennifer Herrema et al
posted by phigmov at 11:51 PM on July 2, 2022 [8 favorites]

Ahhhh, man, this takes me back. Exciting times.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:56 AM on July 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

It’s nice to know the spirit is still kicking.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:15 AM on July 3, 2022

Reminds me of how when I saw "Different Now" I had a bittersweet aneurysm. Like rewrite the girls back into it and over it. (I thought it was thru MeFi but I can't find the post.)

I suppose my tastes ran towards alt, so I'd underline Throwing Muses a hundred times, and add like Autoclave and Tsunami.
posted by fleacircus at 9:23 AM on July 3, 2022

An under-the-radar but excellent addition to the list: Zuzu's Petals.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:38 AM on July 3, 2022 [4 favorites]

think about Lilith Fair often and how it felt like a movement at the time.
I remember it being a profound experience for me. And I have a piano book from it, so I can feel a bit like I'm there when I play!
posted by Flight Hardware, do not touch at 12:00 PM on July 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

Canada represents with Jale.
posted by dobbs at 2:52 PM on July 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

The nearly ungoogle-able Millions were among the female-fronted bands I liked.

Velocity Girl was my absolute favorite at least at first, wildly swinging between shoegaze to pop, though they followed Liz Phair down a road to pure pop that was a bit boring by their 3rd cd.

The Spinanes were the gender-reversed White Stripes, with way more musical talent from both members in my opinion, though they didn't last very long.

Come is also nearly ungoogle-able and like a female-fronted Mudhoney.

Throwing Muses built two giant indie pop band empires between Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donelly, with one being a founding member of The Breeders.

Finally the googleable, but be really careful Pee Shy or you get the medical condition, ruled.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:39 AM on July 4, 2022 [4 favorites]

I happened to be on a college scouting trip in high school at Washington University in St Louis when Bikini Kill were playing (on campus, I think) for a handful of people in 93 or 94. When I had a chance to speak to Kathleen Hannah all I remember is she told me something like “don’t worry about learning to play guitar, just start a band. Do it tomorrow!” That was the feeling in the late 90’s/early 00s, that women could do anything and we were going to take over the music scene.

Anyway, my contribution to this list is The All Girl Summer Fun Band, who sing about Canadian boyfriends and cute boys you crush on who turn out to be gay.

There were even more bands that were 50%+ women and mainly represented in the media as a girl band like Lush, Veruca Salt, The Breeders, Elastica.
posted by Bunglegirl at 3:23 PM on July 4, 2022 [3 favorites]

Since Come was mentioned, I'll pipe up for singer Thalia Zedek's extraordinary solo album, Been Here and Gone (2001), which is a favorite of mine.
posted by dobbs at 7:46 PM on July 4, 2022

(If somebody wanted to make a post about Lilith Fair, NPR today, and Vanity Fair in 2019, might help you get started.)
posted by box at 4:59 AM on July 5, 2022

(I made one. Picking out the links was fun.)
posted by box at 10:11 AM on July 5, 2022

Slant 6
And I know I link this song in, like, every thread, but :
Huggy Bear
posted by thivaia at 11:40 AM on July 5, 2022 [2 favorites]

Great post! Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution is on sale (Kindle edition) for $1.99 right now.
posted by cyndigo at 1:38 PM on July 5, 2022

And, of course, Liz Phair.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:02 AM on July 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

Good lord this is a beatiful thread. Thanks Best of Metafilter feed!
posted by DigDoug at 10:39 AM on July 6, 2022

Cub was a very cool band out of Vancouver that opened for They Might Be Giants on tour in the mid-90s. TMBG covered Cub's song "New York City" (original, cover) and both are great.
posted by AgentRocket at 3:53 PM on July 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

As a young cis-het white guy in Texas in the '90s, Heavens to Betsy probably did more to make me be significantly less of a raging asshole today than almost any other single initiating factor.
posted by Seamus at 1:14 PM on July 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

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