There was a time in the not so distant past when punk rock was almost exclusively created by males. Simultaneous, yet often ignored, parallel streams of female, co-ed and LGBT punk have been flowing since the outset, and now, some twenty years after the rise of the riot grrrl, we are finally seeing a more balanced field…at least in this geographical area.
Fact is, the majority of my current favorite bands from Sacramento have female members. When you watch Crude Studs, Rad or Bad Daddies, you’re witnessing fantastic hardcore with an intensity male-fronted bands rarely achieve. Nacho Business, Arts & Leisure, Jesus Christ, Mister! and The Croissants all have a certain, hard to describe punk friendliness…a commanding, non-judgmental enthusiasm that happens only in a truly cooperative effort. Abandoned Generation, Sneeze Attack And Dog Party each shine because of their strong feminine leads.
In a scene as vibrant as that in Sacramento, it’s easy to take this for granted…and a lot of people don’t think we should even notice. Music is music no matter the gender of the performer, but to not recognize the intelligence and vitality in our scene, which probably wouldn’t be there without of the passionate spirit of our sisters, seems just as wrong. It’s not impossible to embrace differences and individuality, while celebrating the collective progress of the scene.
Another interesting variable in our region is youth engagement. While there are a lot of us old people involved in the scene, we’re beginning to see some really young people creating some very exciting music. Perhaps the best example of both of these trends is the case of Lucy (percussion, age 15) and Gwendolyn (guitar, age 17) Giles of Dog Party.
This Ramones inspired, pop-punk duo is on a noticeable upswing, and the buzz around them is certainly intense, with the release of their 3rd album, Lost Control. A slew of impressive reviews across the range of blogs and online magazines has brought increasing interest to the band all around the world. Their raucous cover of the X hit, ‘Los Angeles,’ creates immediate credibility with even the most snobbish punk fan, and their live performances give insight into the family life and personalities of the pair.
Over the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to watch these young ladies play their set to highly enthusiastic crowds. I spoke with their mom/merch lady, Angela, during their recent appearance at the Summer Daze concert series in Nevada City and got a good sense of their involvement in the local scene. Dog Party has been accepted and revered by scene stalwarts, like Kepi Ghoulie of Groovie Ghoulies fame, who took Dog Party on tour with him in Europe and across the Eastern United States. Their appearance at Sacramento’s ‘Bows & Arrows‘ drew members of many of my favorite bands from the area.
There is a strange sort of happiness I get when I see the connections between the first wave punks of my generation and the promising young artists of today. It gives me hope for the future, not only of music, but also humanity. The last time I spoke with Lucy she was attending the Nevada City screening of the Descendents documentary, ‘Filmage,’ and hanging out with SWA/Chemical People percussionist Greg Cameron. She was as impressed with the film as everyone else in the room and seemed excited about all the attention her band is getting. I mentioned to her that I’d shot video of their live set (disclaimer: shot with my crappy camera) at the Miner’s Foundry and she gave me permission to post it for you here, which I’ll do right after I tell you to go buy this great record on Bandcamp or vinyl!