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  • Bikini Kill

    Bikini Kill | Photo: Reuters/File Photo

Published 10 June 2019

A 90s-era radical feminist punk band whose scream-along sound became a girl-power call to arms will be performing once again after two decades of separation.

As a political assault on reproductive rights rages in the United States (U.S.), Bikini Kill, one of the groups credited for sparking the legendary riot grrrl movement is back, reuniting Monday for a London show to spread their message of empowerment and equality, protesting violence against women and normalizing female anger.

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Before London, Bikini Kill delivered a thunderous series of performances in New York after playing shows in Los Angeles - all sold out almost immediately.

The group - including frontwoman Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail, Kathi Wilcox, and newcomer Erica Dawn Lyle -- broke up in 1997. Still, the reasons that may or may not have motivated the reunion are hardly questionable. 

"I'd never fault a band for hosting a reunion show and wanting to get paid," Farrah Skeiky, a photographer who has been documenting Washington DC's punk scene for long, told teleSUR.

She argues that many punk bands who are holding reunions did not make their living off of music while their bands were active, and many of them primarily played benefit shows in their prime.

"I believe that Bikini Kill knew the joy they'd bring to fans who wanted to see them again and fans who were too young to see them the first time around."

More than two decades later, the crowd who attended the shows seem to hint to a more inclusive punk scene, still, there's a lot of room for improvement, according to Skeiky.

New York rapper Sammus opened one of their shows, sharing a moving account of police violence affecting Black women. But the fellow-artist Hanna invited on stage to share the mic on Bikini Kill's hit "Rebel Girl" was British Joan Jett.

While Riot Grrrl was undoubtedly a "pivotal moment" for women in punk and other genres, Skeiky still remembers that many women and people, especially trans and non-binary folks, didn't see themselves included in that movement.

"These days Black and Brown punks are creating space for themselves, and it's just as powerful as what these women were doing in the late 80s and early 90s. No matter the movement, the lesson is the same: no one can wait for someone else to make space. You have to do it yourself."

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