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Underground Music: A Celebration of Riot Grrrl

Underground Music: A Celebration of Riot Grrrl

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting a musical movement that has paved the way for female musicians, called riot grrrl.

Riot grrrl is a political movement that began in the 1990s to fight against the male-dominated punk rock scene. While there were many female musicians involved in the punk scene before riot grrrl, they were not taken seriously as hardcore.

Despite frequently being assaulted and cursed out by men at their shows, the riot grrrl bands prevailed and gathered a cult following that continues to this day.

From precursors, to ‘90s, to current music, below are a mix of riot grrrl bands.

  1. The Raincoats 

The Raincoats, a British post-punk band, was a precursor to riot grrrl. The band was formed in 1977 in London, and dynamically approached the rising British punk explosion of the ‘70s. Their song lyrics included feminism and politics, while their instrumentals included violin and percussion — showing influences of reggae and world music. Their first single “Fairytale in the Supermarket” was released in 1979, and their self-titled debut album was released within the same year. 

  1. Scrawl

Another band, Scrawl, was opening the space for women in rock long before the riot grrrl movement. Scrawl formed in 1985 in Columbus, Ohio. The trio released their debut album, titled Plus Also Too in 1987. The indie band was originally named “Skull” before it was changed to “Scrawl” when opening for the Meat Puppets in the summer of 1985. Listening to their subtle anger and political messages, it’s clear that riot grrrl was inspired by Scrawl.  

  1. Lunachicks

Lunachicks, a riot grrrl-esque New York City punk band, caught the attention of Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth when they were performing at CBGB and The Limelight. Their debut album Babysitters on Acid was released in 1990. They stopped touring in 2001, but promised a reunion tour in 2020 that was rescheduled due to the COVID pandemic.

  1. 7 Year Bitch

Inspired by the first-era punk band The Gits, 7 Year Bitch was created in Seattle and coined as one of the first official riot grrrl bands. They produced aggressive, angry punk music and released their self-titled debut album in 1990. 

  1. The Paranoyds

The Paranoyds began making music in high school in their friends’ laundry room. Mixing punk, fuzz-pop, and jazz, their sound is a collage of genres. Their debut album Carnage Bargain was released in 2019. Their newest EP titled “I LIKE IT HERE” was released last October.

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