Create,  Play

The Julie Ruin and Screaming Females

My first, and currently only, Bruce Springsteen concert will always be my top concert-going experience. Hands down, no arguments. However, the runner-up post was long held by my first New York Dolls show at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ.

I love you David Johansson, but you’ve been booted to bronze-level status.

On Saturday, I got to see one of my favorite lineups to date: Shellshag, Screaming Females, and The Julie Ruin, a Kathleen Hanna outfit at Asbury Lanes. Asbury Park seems to play a significant role in my musical life, now doesn’t it?

That's two Bikini Kill idols right there.
That’s two Bikini Kill idols right there.

Asbury Lanes is adorably retro. The stage is positioned right in the middle of the bowling lanes, and you can lounge on your standard bowling seats if you’re not dead-set on being right up in the front. (I was of the latter.) There’s also swanky artwork on the walls, a few bar options, and mood-lighting that makes you feel like you’re perpetually in a noir film. It’s a pretty fantastic place.

Shellshag, a two-piece, lo-fi outfit, opened. I hadn’t heard them before, and I loved the music almost as much as I loved how much Shell and Shag seemed to be enjoying themselves. It’s fun to watch people have fun.

I was confused for a moment when the Screaming Females hopped on stage, since the lead singer, Marissa Paternoster, had just been rocking out in the audience. The Screaming Females have been on my radar since writing a music review for them, and I got the rare chance to legitimately use “We pump our fists, not our gas” in a piece of professional writing.

It’s even more awesome to see them live than it is to use cliched phrases like that. Paternoster is a beast on the guitar, and she switches from melodic singing to straight-up screaming without even breaking a sweat.

I’ve seen Kathleen Hanna twice in the past: once, at a Le Tigre concert in Philadelphia, and, the other time, speaking at the New School on girlhood and adolescence. When I met her, I cried. Bikini Kill was the band when I was a teenager, so I’ve idolized Hanna for more than half my life at this point.

The Julie Ruin was just as amazing and they even played a Bikini Kill song. (Be still, my heart.)

The admiration for her as a feminist icon was palpable. Hanna has been contributing to feminism through her music since the early 90’s, and I know I wasn’t the only person there who had so viscerally connected with her voice at such a young age. The last two hours of the show was pretty much a dedicated Let’s geek out over Kathleen Hanna time.

The show was great; the line-up, even better. And watching Paternoster crowd surf to The Julie Ruin? One of the best moments in my concert-going history to date.

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