PUNK/ETTE RESPECT: “Take Down the Flag” by Barbie Army

The genre I like to refer to as “brat punk” started ages ago. You know what it is: simple chord progressions smothered in snarly vocals and snarky, confrontational quips. A handful of years before the Riot Grrrls ripped a hole through the Portland and DC underground — but almost a decade after waves of women forged new paths in punk– Barbie Army patrolled the streets of Chicago.

Formed at the University of Chicago, the all-girl crew The Barbie Army billed themselves as a “Blues Freak Show” to get some of their earliest gigs in the Stinky Onion. Just read this punk database wikipedia page for more “details” — like the fact that Barbie Army went on tour with Sponge and Burning Rain– and others that I don’t want to regurgitate, ok?

Their sweet, sassy ditties drench fuzz guitars and poppin’ chord progressions with cool little bass and lead-guitar solos. Word has it, their shows bewitched audiences, as they lit Barbie doll heads on fire on stage and, politically, self-identified as tampon tax abolitionists. The Barbie Army also wrote some really great songs, like Don’t Wait and Oliver. 

But “Take Down the Flag” is particularly subversive, and I like that.


The description under the You Tube video is from a write-up in the Chicago Reader by Franklin Soults:



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Jen B.

Jen B. Larson occasionally contributes music writing to Please Kill Me and Victim of Time. She also authors fiction for Disappearing Media and sings, screams, and shreds in the bands beastii and the late Swimsuit Addition. Bankrolling her creative habit by teaching at an arts high school in Chicago, she spends her free time researching for and drafting her first book, which is forthcoming on Feral House Publishing. Follow the Instagram @conspiracyofwomen for features of cool women of early punk.

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