Live in Cleveland (Last Week)

"Mind Meld," Kitten Forever (Download)
"Voodoo," Kitten Forever (Download)

So, last Friday I had the complete and total pleasure of seeing Kitten Forever play at the Blue Arrow on Waterloo. Kitten Forever is a 3 girl punk rock band from Minneapolis & I feel like it's sort of a cop-out to borrow from their MySpace page to describe their sound, but the description they have up there is so on, so who cares? I mean, it's not like I have any journalistic integrity to compromise or anything. So, Kitten Forever sounds like crabby baby cats, later Bratmobile, the Gossip without the southern twang, and Husker Du's "New Day Rising." How does that not sound like the best possible combination of things?!

Here are two semi-related (but maybe not really?) things that I really liked about Kitten Forever:

1. The only instruments they use are drums & bass -- In many ways, one of the big things that gets me hung up on doing something like "being in a band" or "playing music in public" or even "playing music with other people (or by myself) in the privacy of my own home" is that I get caught up in what I think you "need to have" in order to make music. Even though a lot of the music I enjoy listening to is way simplistic & stripped down when it comes to fancy gear, when I imagine the way I think things should be, I always think of things I don't have or don't know how to play. Seeing Kitten Forever play was like taking a crash course in, "Oh hey, real people make music and they make it all the time and they make it with what they've got and with who they like" and it was awesome to be reminded of that.

2. Their music simultaneously reminds me of stuff I lived for listening to in middle/high school, without seeming tired -- I've been seeing this whole whirlwind of "riot grrrl revival" talk on the internet (I am just going to use that blanket term "internet" because when I talk about things like "tumblr" and "the feminist blogosphere" Drew makes fun of me) & while I'm generally opposed to all of the "revolution grrrl style 2010" rhetoric for reasons I won't get into here, it was really awesome to hear new music that fit in with that canon without sounding played out and insincere.

Kitten Forever's most recent release is their Magical Realism EP on UF Records. They also have an album, a single, and a cassette that you can order directly through them (see their MySpace page for ordering info.)

Kitten Forever is just one of many out of town bands that the Blue Arrow is hosting. If you're in the area, I highly recommend coming out tomorrow to see Hop Along & Lithuania! The show should start around 7.

"Mind Meld," Kitten Forever (Download)
"Voodoo," Kitten Forever (Download)


SISSY said...


two things:

1. Kitten Forever is RAD. thank you for introducing them!

2. I'd like to know why you're opposed to the "revolution grrrl style 2010" shiz that heaps of people (including myself, of course!) are talking about. dish! please?

K. said...

Part One (Sorry, my original comment was so long that it had to be busted up into a couple of parts!)

Stacy, Kitten Forever rules! I'm so glad to hear that you're digging them.

(The rest of this is a little long, so please bear with me!)

I've been feeling really conflicted about the riot grrrl revival stuff for a lot of reasons, but what it comes down to one or two overlapping big things. First, I'm in no way opposed to a movement that encourages girls/ladies/women/ANYONE to empower themselves, especially when that empowerment occurs through expressing themselves and creating work that reflects their thoughts and experiences. I am 100% for working to create an environment that facilitates girl-centric music, writing, and art, that isn't afraid to both personalize and politicize those cultural products, that promotes networking between girls that helps to create an infrastructure where girls are more able to take their bands (or other projects) on tour, can connect with other girls who share their interests and beliefs, can share resources with each other & support each other, etc.

What a lot of it comes down to, for me, is that I'm simply troubled by the term "riot grrrl revival." I love riot grrrl music and zines and that movement will always hold a very real and important place in my heart, but over the years I've come to recognize the riot grrrl movement as being problematic in many ways -- including not being inclusive of women of color, transpeople, and working class women, &, in some ways, co-opting the experiences of these women & sloganizing them. (This is something that Lauren Martin explores really eloquently in her zine Quantify, where she writes about Le Tigre's song "Bang! Bang!" There's a nice blog post here with a similar critique. Another thing that comes to mind is the "We [heart] trannies!" flier that Mr. Lady records released to "show their support" for the trans community, while continuing to participate in the MWMF in spite of their "women born women" only attendance/participation policy.)

K. said...

Part Two!

I guess instead of a revival, I'd like to see the creation of something new -- of course there are "fundamental teachings" of riot grrrl that I will never let go of ("encourage in the face of insecurity" being a particular favorite of mine), but I think there needs to be some serious forward movement & restructuring, instead of just looking to recreate riot grrrl. I'm not saying that everyone is just blindly looking backwards -- but the bulk of stuff that I've seen floating around on Tumblr/other blogging sites is people posting old photos of Bikini Kill and saying, "It's time for a riot grrrl revival!" I've seen very little serious critique of riot grrrl, why it might be problematic to "resurrect" an unchanged, uncritiqued riot grrrl movement, etc. (If you've got anything you'd like to point me towards that calls for a more critical perspective on riot grrrl, pleae do! I'm interested in reading as much as I can about this & dialoguing with as many people as possible.)

I also think that by fixating on riot grrrl as an ideal expression of women in punk communities, we (unintentionally) silence and diminish the experiences and contributions of women who participated in punk communities before and after riot grrrl. (Though maybe this is just a product of me over-thinking things.)

There's a great quote from Ciara Xyerra on this blog post where she nicely sums up a lot of what I've tried to hash out here. "I wish people would let the riot grrrl name go, but if anyone tried to imply that I don't care about young feminists today, I would be fairly pissed off. It's because I do care that I wish they'd stop trying to resurrect a movement that was so problematic in so many key ways."

I know that a lot of people might say, "Oh, riot grrrl" is just what we're calling this -- it's going to be something else, we're going to look closely at what we're creating and who we're privileging or silencing, etc." essentially, "We'll have the riot grrrl name, but none of the baggage," and I just don't know that I can get behind that. Naming a thing is a very intentional act and while I'll always love songs like "For Tammy Rae" and zines like Channel Seven, there's a lot of riot grrrl baggage that isn't going to go away for me any time soon and because of that, I'm hesitant to argue for a riot grrrl revival.

(Sorry this is so long winded, this is the first time I've gathered all of my thoughts on this in one place!)

SISSY said...


All of your points are totally valid. I've been kind of disappointed that much of the talk of a "revival" centers around worshiping K. Hanna and less about moving forward and creating new things. And yeah, calling for a straight up "revival" isn't necessarily the way to go about getting the spirit of RG (in a less-baggage/more-inclusive vein, at least) back again.

HOWEVER, I do believe that there is a need to start talking about RG again, and reclaiming feminist spaces in punk and diy music scenes (which have been pretty apolitical for the past 15 years or so) "for the kids," so to speak. The reason why I wrote about a revival, and am putting together a zine that looks at riot grrrl's impact, 20 years later, is to highlight the work that these women did (though it was far from perfect), bringing together a movement that supports the ideas of "safe spaces," inclusiveness, and feminism in punk.

Yeah, they may not have been the first, and they may have overlooked a lot (race, class, etc), but I think that overall riot grrrls were successful in getting in the faces of the Tribal Elders and making it known that women weren't going to do things on Dudes' terms anymore.

Why is this relevant today? The sad thing is that many women under the age of 25 don't know anything about riot grrrl. They've heard of it, and might know who Bratmobile is, but they don't understand RG's significance and, having been raised in the bullshit "post-feminism" era of the late 90's/early 00's, they think feminism in punk is not needed anymore. They just go to shows and stand in the back and let their boyfriend/brother/male friends/Pitchfork tell them what Dude Bands to listen to...and it's like we're back where we started, 20 years ago.

So I think that while a literal "revival" of RG is a bit farfetched and unnecessary, I DO think that talking about RG--bringing it back into the consciousness of young women today who see it mentioned on Twitter/Facebook/Myspace and read about it on (really great!) blogs like yours--is needed.

I wrote a bunch more, but I just lost it when I went to preview the I'll be succinct and say that those of us who are calling for a revival of sorts acknowledge that parts of RG in the past were fucked up and we're trying to correct that in new feminist DIY punk spaces now. Race, class, education, etc and the matrices of oppression are on our minds when we do work to try to change the scene. Opening up RG to critical debate is an important part of moving forward along with younger women in the scene today.

ANYWAY so that brings me to my next point--Kate Wadkins and I would love to include your (most excellent!) comments above in our zine. Yours is one of the best and most all-encompassing responses we've seen to the call for a "revival." Would you consider allowing us to reprint it? (Or submitting something else?) Email us if so!

In solidarity!
Stacy K.

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