Tag Archives: oakland

All Together Now: Oh Bondage Up Yours!

Alice Bag and Frightwig's Mia d'Bruzzi

Alice Bag and Frightwig’s Mia d’Bruzzi

It was literally my punk rock dream come true. There I was, on stage with some of my ultimate musical heroines, singing “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” The F Word show at Studio Grand in Oakland May 13 wasn’t just a historic first — Cali punk legends Alice Bag and Frightwig on a bill together. It was a feminist singalong and call to action. These are women, and one man (veteran keyboardist Eric Drew Feldman), who take seriously the participatory mission of DIY culture and embraced the intimate setting of a community space with photographs of social justice organizations on the wall. Though the Wig and Bag met in person for the first time that day, they quickly got into each other’s grooves and unleashed some fearsome woman power.

I did my best to warm the crowd up with a little discourse on the collusion of punk and feminism. (I’ll post my pieces later.) Having made the online introductions of the bands, I played MC and DJ (and a little Hype Woman too). After a critical karaoke of Patti Smith’s “Till Victory” (I’ll post that as well), I intro’d Bag — aka Alicia Velasquez — and her bassist, awesome Angie Skull. Alice interspersed excerpts from her memoir Violence Girl and her new book, Pipebomb for the Soul, about her days in Nicaragua with the Sandinistas, with songs. Frightwig’s Deanna Mitchell, Cecilia Kuhn, Mia d’Bruzzi, Eric Drew Feldman and I joined in as backing singers for “Women on Top” and “Modern Day Virgin Sacrifice.”

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Then, it was Frightwig‘s turn. But first, more Bag Wig McDonnell: I recited Poly-Styrene’s famous intro to “Oh Bondage Up Yours,” and then there we all were, an unplugged rendering of the classic punk feminist anthem. I even sang the second verse, Nike help me. (The goddess, not the shoemaker.) Angie, Alice and I also aided and abetted the newish Frightwig song “War on Women.”

The ‘Wig closed the evening with new songs as well as some of their classics from the 1980s, including “My Crotch Does Not Say Go.” Drummer Kuhn ended with the intense “Lament,” one of many songs that evening that probed uneven social systems and questions of identity.

We practiced our jams for the first time just an hour before the show started. It was also a rare acoustic show for Frightwig. So the night had a very raw, collaborative quality to it. Watching these women learn each other’s songs and find instant notes of harmony and grace — and of collision and dissent — was a tremendous, inspiring experience. I had gotten a taste of it the day before, at Stanford, when I watched Angie and Alice join Allison Wolfe (Sex Stains, Bratmobile, etc.) for another herstoric jam, this one a rendering of the Bratmobile ode to  a girl named “Panik.” I know punk isn’t about technical virtuosity, but I just have to say it: All these women can really sing. Without the distortion, you could hear that.

I’m so grateful that I got to be not just a witness, but a participant, in these moments.

Thanks to Vanessa at Studio Grand and to Ruben Martinez, Jeff Chang, and Ellen Oh at the Stanford Institute for Diversity in the Arts for making these moments happen.

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Alice Bag and Frightwig Interview

Prior to our upcoming show together at Studio Grand in Oakland, I interviewed Alicia Velasquez, aka Alice Bag, and Cecilia Kuhn, drummer for Frightwig, about raw power and girl power, for the SF Weekly.

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Bag Wig McDonnell Poster!

Web Version Bag-Wig-McDonnell 5.13.2015 Jon KropCheck out the fabulous flyer for The F Word in Oakland May 13.

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Frightwig, Alice Bag, and Me!

I am beyond honored to announce the first-ever show of two legendary California punk bands: Alice Bag and Frightwig. What’s more, I’m on the bill too! I am the luckiest grrrl alive. This will be an unplugged event of words and music. Stay tuned for announcement of another great event with Alice, myself, and one other punk feminist icon.

Alice Bag

Alice Bag

Studio Grand Presents

The F Word: A Punk Feminist Party with Alice Bag,

Frightwig, and Evelyn McDonnell

May 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Studio Grand, Oakland

The psych-thrash band Frightwig said it years ago: Wild Women Never Die. Two pioneering feminist punk acts – L.A.’s Alice Bag and the Bay Area’s Frightwig — will perform together for the first time ever at Oakland’s Studio Grand May 13. They will be joined by writer Evelyn McDonnell, biographer of another legendary all-girl Californian band, the Runaways, for a night of literature and music celebrating “The F Word.”

The F Word: A Punk Feminist Party with Alice Bag, Frightwig, and Evelyn McDonnell will celebrate the fact that women have been a driving force in California punk, and punks have pushed for new waves of female power up and down the West Coast, since the 1970s. Alice Bag was the lead singer of the Bags during the punk revolution of 1977. Her book, Violence Girl, From East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage, is the story of her upbringing in East LA, her eventual migration to Hollywood and the euphoria and aftermath of the first punk wave. Violence Girl reveals how domestic abuse fueled her desire for female empowerment and sheds a new perspective on the origin of hardcore, a style most often associated with white suburban males. Alice is a blogger turned author and a former bilingual elementary school teacher. An outspoken activist, feminist and self-proclaimed troublemaker, Alice brings her Chicana punk attitude to the printed page. Alice will read from her memoir and her forthcoming book, The Inside Out Revolution, and sing songs.

Birthed in 1982 by Deanna Ashley and Mia d’Bruzzi, Frightwig templated the Punk Fem phenomenon that followed over a decade later. Funny, funky and furious, Frightwig produced the full-length albums Cat Farm Faboo (Subterranean Records 1984) and Faster Frightwig Kill Kill (Caroline Records 1986), as well as the EP Phone Sexy (Boner Records 1988). Frightwig has widely been credited as one of the most original, intense and fearless feminist bands by musicians, critics and fans alike. After taking a hiatus from live performance, Frightwig has now returned with a vengeance, presenting an all-star line-up which features founding members Ashley on bass, d’Bruzzi on guitar, Cecilia Kuhn on drums, and keyboardist Eric Drew Feldman (Captain Beefheart, Snakefinger, PJ Harvey). Eric produced and played on Frightwig’s 2013 EP Hit Return and  the “War On Women/Hear What I Say” single. Frightwig is currently in the midst of recording an LP of new material.

Frightwig

Frightwig

Evelyn McDonnell has written or coedited six books, from Rock She Wrote: Women Write about Rock, Pop and Rap to Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways. A longtime journalist, she has been a pop culture writer at The Miami Herald and a senior editor at The Village Voice. Her writing on music, poetry, theater, and culture has appeared in publications and anthologies including the Los Angeles Times, Ms., Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Spin, Travel & Leisure, Billboard, Vibe, Interview, and Option. She teaches students how to write and make some noise at Loyola Marymount University.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on a sliding scale from $5-$15, general admission (no one will be turned for lack of funds). Studio Grand is located at 3234 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610. For more information visit http://www.studiograndoakland.org or call (510) 761-5652.

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