underground since'89

send vinyl, tapes and zines for review to:

tobi vail P.O. Box 2572 Olympia, WA 98507 USA

email mp3's, links, photos and flyers to:


Wednesday, February 24, 2010


photo by julie fay

Modern Northwest and Old School Oly Rock Join For A Great Cause!!!!!

Hive Dwellers(w/Calvin Johnson)
Mary Win
The Human Skab
Redbird Fever
Pet Products
Al Larsen
Volume 3
Big Idea

Friday, March 12, 2010
Olympia Eagles Hall
805 4th ave.
Downtown Olympia

Tropicana 25 Year Reunion? Shades of G.E.S.S.C.O.? Reko Muse?

Be there or be SQUARE Where were YOU in '82?!?

Monday, February 22, 2010

February 28: Videos by Wynne Greenwood and K8 Hardy

Sunday 28th 7pm
Dumpster Values
Downtown Olympia

from fb:

We are showing the three New Report videos by Wynne Greenwood and K8 Hardy. The moon will be full this evening.

from Wynne Greenwood's bio:

Wynne Greenwood is a queer, feminist and interdisciplinary artist who works with video, performance, music, sculpture and installation.

White Lung & Nü Sensae

A week ago I got a chance to see White Lung (Vancouver BC) play with their new guitarist:

White Lung - Atlanta from Ryan D. Anderson on Vimeo.

It was a bummer to find out that Natasha Reich, their original guitarist, is not in the band anymore, but they still had great energy, cool songs and bring a fresh, young energy to punk.

They were on tour with Nü Sensae, who are also from Vancouver. The singer/bass player totally shreds:

NÜ SENSAE - Don't Panic from Michael Burnside on Vimeo.

We missed the opening group, Hell Womon and only caught the end of Kanako's solo project, but overall the show was fun and had a pretty cool vibe compared to a lot of shows I've been to in the past year. A lot of the all ages shows at Northern feel a little awkward and the hardcore/punk shows at Old School or various basements/houses too are just too male-dominated. At this show there were a lot of guys in the front and women/girls in the back or on the side, which was kind of a bummer but I found it was easy enough to push them out of the way so I could see. I really hate that this same dynamic still exists at shows that existed when I first started going to them back in 1983. Why are the guys so oblivious? Don't take up so much space! Step aside! Share the room. Sometimes I don't have the energy to push you aside and fight for somewhere to stand. But whatever, I often feel more comfortable lurking in the shadows and don't always have the energy to deal.

I have to say that it's really a shame that Natasha Reich is no longer in White Lung. They seemed more like a cohesive group with her in it. She is easily one of the best punk guitarists of this decade, male or female. I really hope to see her in a new group soon. White Lung show a lot of determination in keeping the group together without her. This energy and willpower came through in their performance, which was strong and focused. Still, something was missing. I hope to see them again soon and wish them the best of luck on their west coast tour. Go see them play if you get the chance! They are a really terrific group and Nü Sensae are pretty great live as well so don't miss out.

Here's a recent live track:

NU SENSAE - BURN ZERO from Kenneth McCorkell on Vimeo.

Vivian Girls

From a recent Vivian Girls show in Portland:

Here's a recent interview they did when they were in Seattle, earlier this month:

I really love watching them talk about their band, because it's so clearly the most important thing in all of their lives. I miss that kind of focus in my own life and rarely am around women/girls who take being in a band seriously.

I hope they don't skip Olympia next time, I'd love to get a chance to see them play live again and I'm not in the habit of going to Portland or Seattle to see shows. It would be cool to see them play Northern. I'm sure the Olympia All Ages Project would love to put on a show for them.

Bags at The Whiskey 1979

Check out Alice Bag's Interviews with The Women of LA Punk here

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Girl Power by Marisa Meltzer Revisted

After I wrote my review of Girl Power by Marisa Meltzer I went back to read the email interview I did with her for the book. Not surprisingly a bunch of quotes she used were edited in a way that sort of changed their meaning. Several came from the body of emails I wrote her about why I hadn't gotten around to answering the interview yet. I guess it's naive of me to think that those emails were off the record, but I did assume that at the time...to have them quoted outside of that context felt a little weird but whatever, it's ultimately my fault for not being clear or guarded enough.

Regardless, I feel it's more than fair to quote from the emails given this situation. Anyhow here is one Q & A that I thought would be interesting to share, given the nature of my criticism of her book.

I'd be interested to hear how you all would answer her questions.

Marisa: How do you see the purpose of the underground? Is it inevitable that the mainstream will coopt subcultures? Is it our job to keep them pure? Is purity a good or bad thing for the underground?

Tobi: Hmm….the underground is where I am at….does it have a purpose? That is kind of like asking, does Olympia have a purpose? Or maybe, what is the purpose of Astoria? Or what is the point of Anacortes? These are places where people live. We don't all live in New York or LA and we don't all need to look to those places to be entertained or buy stuff from. We can make stuff and entertain ourselves where we are with what we have available to us.

I guess it's like asking, what is the purpose of folk music? What is the purpose of people sitting around a campfire and playing guitar? What is the purpose of having someone over for dinner? What is the purpose of growing your own food or making pickles?

As far as co-opting, that is a very good question…it can be disconcerting when that happens, but what I like to say is that the mainstream can change the meaning of something, sure, that is inevitable, meaning is not fixed and it changes.

The second part of this got lost in the email shuffle. To paraphrase the idea:

The mainstream cannot take away our ability to create new meanings. Culture then becomes an arena of political struggle where dominant meanings are contested. This is largely about hegemony. Power. Who has the upper hand and how can we be persuasive?

As far as women go, there is patriarchy to consider. How could riot grrl become mainstream without its meaning changing? The mainstream is patriarchy. Riot Grrl is feminist. Something has to give, right? I guess that's why we have The Spice Girls.

I'm not sure how to address your question about purity, can you give me an example?

I think that was the end of our discussion on this point...

Photo: Ernest Arnold (Grandma's brother) and Nellie Brown (a friend)

Rise Above

Rise Above by Black Flag

Jealous cowards try to control
Rise above
We're gonna rise above
They distort what we say
Rise above
We're gonna rise above
Try and stop what we do
Rise above
When they can't do it themselves

We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us it's no use

Society's arms of control
Rise above
We're gonna rise above
Think they're smart
Can't think for themselves
Rise above
We're gonna rise above
Laugh at us
Behind our backs
I find satisfaction
In what they lack

We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us it's no use

We are born with a chance
Rise above
We're gonna rise above
I am gonna have my chance
Rise above
We're gonna rise above

We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us it's no use

Rise above
Rise above
Rise above
We're gonna rise above
We're gonna rise above
We're gonna rise above

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February 15: White Lung, Nu Sensae, Kanako Drum Solo, Hell Womon




(check the latest issue of Nuts for details)

8pm SHARP!!! 5$-10$ pay what you can. Benefit for Bike and Bike!

Monday, February 15, 2010

BIKE & BIKE between Dumpster and Old School

Downtown Olympia, WA

Share Your Bikini Kill Story

Bikini Kill has set up an official archive online

We are collecting stories of how people got into the band/shows they saw/memories/testimonials etc.

It would be awesome if you wanted to contribute. It doesn’t have to be fancy or well-worded, we’d just like you to leave a record of your experience and get an idea of what Bikini Kill means to you. Maybe it’s your reaction to a song we wrote, something weird that happened at one of our shows, a personal anecdote or just WHATEVER. Send yr story to bkillarchive@gmail.com and we will post it or just leave a comment somewhere on the site. You can also send us images to post.

Please help us spread the word. To document the history (or herstory) of the band it is necessary to include an oral history from “the fans”. We say fans for lack of a better word—a more expansive term would be inclusive of friends, peers, comrades, co-conspirators and imply participation rather than an audience separate from the band—which is what we hope to achieve with this interactive approach.

Also, if you have video/film footage of the band, please contact us, Thanks!

Read this Bikini Kill story by M'Lady's own Brett Lyman:

I saw Bikini Kill on October 13, 1994, in Dayton, Ohio. I didn’t live there, and was in fact about six hours away in Detroit, but because of a fairly disastrous previous engagement in Detroit they seemed destined never to return, and Dayton was close as they were gonna get on that particular tour. I was 17 and constantly in trouble, teenage runaway style, no fixed address, and shame-facedly back at my parents’ house for that month, all strings attached. I was not allowed to go to punk shows when I was younger (nice reverse psychology, Mom and Dad) and had to run away every time I wanted to. This show was no exception. I hitched a ride with my friends Jef, Becky, and Carrie, in Jef’s incredibly fucked up 1980s Detroit behemoth car, and he insisted on listening to Shellac on repeat, and only dining at Denny’s.

The show was at this dump ironically called the “Palace Club”. It was in a strip mall, next to like a dry cleaners or something, I forget. There were four bands on the bill: BK, Team Dresch, and two incredibly shitty emo hardcore extremely damaged groups that I forget, though I vividly remember wanting to throw up while they were playing. Then Team Dresch came on, presented a “Free to Fight” self-defense course (most of which is a blur, though I do recall one of the scenarios featuring an assailant that was screaming “I’ll teach you to love Jesus!”), then threw down with a ferocity that I’d never seen before. BK then played, and I’ll spare you a bunch of florid nonsense and just say that they were and are the best group I’ve ever seen in concert, and it was worth every bit of hassle I had to go through when I got home and found out the cops were looking for me and I was no longer welcome in my parents’ home. I remember that they played a lotta songs from “Pussy Whipped” they were wearing these matching red jackets before the show, ‘cept for Bill who was wearing like a trench coat maybe? I always wondered what it was like to see the Misfits or Minor Threat or the Pretty Things in 1964 but I think that actually it was probably that good, you know? I went back to Michigan, stayed in trouble, and never ever forgot what that feeling was like. The end.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cease To Exist by Veronica Ortuño

Finally Punk member Veronica Ortuño is hosting Cease To Exist, her own radio show (as a podcast) over at M'Lady'S Records.

here's the tracklist for the 2nd episode:

1. Glenn Branca - Structure
2. Sonic Youth - Brave Men Run (In My Family)
3. Hans-A-Plast - Reicher Vati
4. Irma Thomas - Good To Me
5. Nico - I'm Not Saying
6. The Luv'd Ones - Yeah I'm Feelin' Fine
7. The Ronettes - He Did It
8. Patsy Cline - Strange
9. The Tammys - Egyptian Shumba
10. Neo Boys - Never Comes Down
11. K.U.K.L. - Assassin
12. Arvid Tuba - The Seasons are Sitting on Chairs
13. The Chills - Pink Frost
14. Gun Outfit - Troubles Like Mine
15. Ut - Evangelist
16. Suburban Lawns - Janitor
17. Guided by Voices - Over the Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox
18. Nina Simone - Be My Husband
19. The Sticks - Land Game
20. Buzzcocks - What Ever Happened

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music by Marisa Meltzer

Girl Power traces the influence of OG "riot grrl" groups (Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Heavens To Betsy) to the Spice Girls, covering "foxcore", Sleater-Kinney, Le Tigre and Ladyfest as well as several other pop stars and other all-female alternative/indie rock groups along the way.

The book is written for a mainstream audience and suffers from some of the awkwardness that comes along with trying to explain this stuff to the general public. Marisa comes across as a former indie-rocker who felt she didn't really fit into the punk scene, yet was invigorated by the feminism (and celebration of girlhood) that happened during riot grrl. This makes sense, as she admits she found out about the movement through Sassy (her previous book is a love letter to the pro-girl teen magazine) She argues that riot grrl's "media blackout" led to its demise and wishes that the original groups would have stuck around and tried to find a larger audience. Describing an experience of seeing Sleater-Kinney play to 13,000 people, she recalls wishing that riot grrl had been able to sustain itself. Paradoxically, she acknowledges that, while the Spice Girls were cool in some ways, their "girl power" was limited to marketing and questions what that means in terms of empowerment. Quoting Kathleen Hanna, she points out that buying a Spice Girls notebook is not going to change the world. This makes me wonder what would be different if it had been Bikini Kill notebooks the girls were buying.

I knew Marisa around 96/7 when she lived in Olympia and had a cute all-girl accapella group called The Skirts. In the interest of "full disclosure"--I was a big Skirts fan and she was my favorite member! It was a weird time period. It was interesting to read her take on things as someone who admits (somewhat reluctantly) that she moved here to go to Evergreen after getting into riot grrl and even "semi-stalking" Kathleen. I wish she would have told more of her own story here. Her voice comes through loud and clear when she is critiquing what she calls the elitism of independent culture. She belongs to the camp that believes that it's exclusive to play basement shows, failing to see how this can be a more inclusive model. By booking our own tours and creating a DIY feminist network through the mail, Bikini Kill encouraged girls to meet each other and start their own scene. Sure a "scene" can be clique-ish and Olympia was/is no exception, but the idea we were were working with is that if we can do it here, certainly you can do it where you live. Only a few bands can get on MTV or sign to a major label. It's far more populist to encourage kids to put on shows where they live and take their own work and friends seriously. To her credit she does acknowledge that Ladyfest was a successful attempt to take this idea to another level.

I was interviewed (via email) for the book and am quoted a lot, which is kind of embarrassing, as I don't think what I'm trying to say really comes through, which is partially my fault, not thinking about who the audience for the book would be and just neurotically rambling on to her about how strange it is to have been a part of something that had such a big cultural impact. I remember telling her how weird and hard to talk about a lot of this is for me without going into a lot of detail. I tried to explain my perspective. On the one hand you want to take credit for your work, especially because women are encouraged NOT to take credit for anything. On the other hand, it's embarrassing. Sometimes I feel like I'm lying when I talk about this stuff because what actually happened is so surreal and bizarre that I often have a hard time believing it myself.

Personal weirdness aside, I think it's cool that someone wrote this book for a mainstream audience. My hope is that teenage girls and young women who don't know this history will get inspired to find out about riot grrl. It would be really cool if it inspired girls to create a new young feminist movement rooted in their generation.

The book made me think a lot about documenting history from a strategic perspective. How could this story be told to incite participation in girls? A big part of the original "girl power" idea, was to get girls to stop being consumers of male-dominated culture and start producing our own. I guess my fear is that this kind of pop-culture history could encourage girls to simply consume "girl-culture", thereby claiming the identity of "riot grrl" or "feminism" through the act of buying a record, as opposed to starting their own band or fanzine or putting on a show. To me the point is to encourage girls to start their own young feminist movement, not just to copy what we did. That is the danger of nostalgia I think...

So I'd be interested to hear what people think about this. How can we tell our story without feeding into this consumer-oriented nostalgic trap? Or is that inevitable?