Revolution Rock

November 27, 2012

I recently Tumbld toward Downed City Rise, where John Davis of Title Tracks (and sundry other great bands) lets you root through his personal shoebox of D.C.-scene memorabilia.

A few pages in was a flier for the show that changed my life: riot grrrl pioneers Bikini Kill at George Washington University’s Marvin Center, on Feb. 26, 1996. I was a high school senior. A girl from my trig class brought her mom. Vocalist Kathleen Hanna double-dared me and everyone else there to burn down the patriarchy, to find our own way to scream our truth and be heard.

That show made me a punk, a feminist and an activist. In 2007, it led me to Girls Rock! D.C., a camp that teaches girls ages 8 through 18 to play music. Some of the founders had been at that show, too. And today, a few of our first campers are in their own bands.

In October, Bikini Kill’s self-titled debut EP — produced by Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye during a formative summer the band spent in D.C. — turned 20, an anniversary marked with a reissue and many a “look back” article. But as Hanna told The Washington Post, it’s not about rehashing riot grrrl — it’s about starting your own thing.

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