TIGER BEAT is another excellent album by Bangs. Like the EP CALL AND RESPONSE and its song “I Want More,” the 10-song album TIGER BEAT has a standout song: “Death by Guitar.” SWEET REVENGE is an anomaly: Every song is a standout. All Bangs songs give me pleasure when I listen to them, but when I hear “I Want More” or “Death by Guitar,” I immediately want to hear it 10 times in a row.
If I were to live my life without Bangs music, my life would still be good, but it would be less good.
Is Bangs a riot grrrl band? I would argue that it is, although some people believe that riot grrrl bands were more overtly feminist than Bangs were. Bangs were feminist in the sense that women (Sarah Utter and Maggie Vail) fronted the band. The drummers varied, but they were often men. (Some of the best bands, including Bikini Kill, The Soviettes, and Hey Violet, have one male among the females. Danny of The Soviettes has a penis, but the three female members of the band joke that they tried to keep that a secret.)
Riot grrrl is what happened when feminism merged with punk music. Feminism can be defined as the belief that women have the right to pursue a meaningful and creative and happy life, just as men do. (Treat that statement as simply my opinion; I don’t want to mansplain feminism.) A major part of riot grrrl is women creating music, which is something that Bangs certainly did. Bangs are one example of feminism merging with punk music — or rock and pop and punk music — and in my brain that makes Bangs a riot grrrl band.
One more point: I don’t think we should define riot grrrl too narrowly. If it is defined it too narrowly, it becomes a music movement that lasted only a few years. To me, it is still alive and rocking in the music of Pussy Riot and Gossip as well as re-formed bands such as Sleater-Kinney.
In a 2009 article titled “The 10 Myths of Riot Grrrl” in the GUARDIAN, Everett True wrote that it is a myth that riot grrrl “existed as a moment.” He wrote, “No. It was always fluid, always changing. The name wasn’t supposed to stick. The musical style wasn’t supposed to gel. It wasn’t intended to be particularly about music: more, a way of seeing, a means to empowerment.”
Riot grrrl has been a great success. Creatively, and as an example for others to follow, so have Bangs.
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