“I don’t know how you feel about me using the F-word,” Andrea Swensson warned audience members at the Turf Club on Saturday night. Swensson was hosting the third installment of Girl Germs, a concert series of tributes to women in rock. But the 89.3 the Current blogger/Local Show host faked us out — what she had in mind was “feminism,” the driving force behind the entire night. Then, she threw in the four-letter word for good measure.
Swensson isn’t the only one to make the F-word allusion. Pop star Charli XCX recently released a documentary called The F Word And Me, which sheds light on some of her experiences as a woman in music. Even now, rock is a white dude’s world, and that’s why writers Sally Hedberg and Dana Raidt started their concert series. On Saturday, five local bands paid tribute to lady rock/pop heroes.
First on the bill, genre-benders Suzie covered Cyndi Lauper, playing a predictably amazing version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Last month, Hedberg addressed some controversy surrounding the band’s booking; despite their name, Suzie is actually an all-guy project fronted by Mark Ritsema (formerly of Night Moves). How could them playing Girl Germs be feminist? Hedberg was clear: “To infer that only women can advocate for women’s rights or that only women can influence other women musically is as much gross inaccuracy as it is counterproductive to the definition of feminism.” The dudes shall stay, she noted in all caps. Good thing, too — Suzie nailed their opening slot.
Underagers/Picked to Click 2015 runners-up/punk band Bruise Violet played some of the Lunachicks’ greatest hits during their turn on stage. “How cool is this night?” asked Emily Schoonover, playing guitar in a pink onesie. Drummer/vocalist Danielle Cusack rocked her third performance in as many nights — when she’s not playing in Bruise Violet or studying at Hamline, she drums for Cherry Cola, Max Timander’s latest project. An energetic Bella Dawson rounded out the trio on bass.
Bruise Violet’s set got heads nodding, but I missed the three-part harmonies of their original songs, like the on the line “Answer your goddamn phone when I’m trying to call," from BV original “I Cried for 45 Minutes Because of Passive Aggressive Guinea Pigs” Classic. “Luxury Problem” seemed to have the most in common with Bruise Violet’s own material. It was also my favorite song of the set.
Bad Bad Hats played a fleeting five Sheryl Crow hits. You know the most surprising part of the night? I couldn’t name one Sheryl Crow track (“The First Cut Is The Deepest,” “Soak Up The Sun,” “Every Day Is A Winding Road,” etc.) before Girl Germs 3.0 started, but I knew every song Bad Bad Hats played. How’d that happen? Also: BBH vocalist/guitarist Kerry Alexander introduced herself as Sheryl Crow, but the method acting had to stop somewhere. While learning “My Favorite Mistake,” she said, “I tried to imagine making out with Eric Clapton ... no thanks!”
The Turf was most jam-packed as Mina Moore covered Janet Jackson. She flew through more than a dozen songs in no time at all. From “Control” to “Escapade” to “Again,” the setlist mostly stuck to mid-‘80s/early-‘90s Janet; for the last song, Moore descended into the crowd and read the “Rhythm Nation” intro. Her back-up dancers donned baseball caps, and together, they nailed Jackson’s greatest hit.
Nona Marie (RONiiA, Dark Dark Dark, and more) brought several ladies (including some members of Anonymous Choir) to the stage to help her sing Patti Smith. The venue had mostly cleared out by the time she went on (probably due to the 1 a.m. set time), but I enjoyed the extra space and quieter vibes. Perfect ending.
Caveat: Throughout the night, almost every group went on before their scheduled set time, which threw me for a loop. Also, rehearsal felt shaky in some areas. Moore had to read a couple intros off a page, and I wanted Bad Bad Hats’s set to be longer. That said, the shakiness did seem natural for a tribute show.
On the whole, Girl Germs 3.0 was a blast. Local musicians got creative on stage, the audience belted out classic songs, and I learned more about every artist on the bill (the tributers and the tributees). I’d definitely say the show increased my awareness of women in rock. More things from Raidt and Hedberg, please!
Critic’s bias: I enjoy the Girl Germs concept. I really enjoy Janet Jackson.
The crowd: Full of ladies! Girls outnumbered guys for the first rock show of my life!
Overheard in the crowd: Not relevant to music: I did hear one man ask another concertgoer, “Who is Edward Cullen?” It seemed like a Very Important Question.
Random notebook dump: As part of her hosting duties, Andrea Swensson plugged business partners like whoa. Planned Parenthood, Glam Doll Donuts, and every band of the night all got major shout-outs. I think there was even a Toppers mention in there somewhere?