So like, ohmigod! I'm totally psyched to party all night long with the Donnas. Lemme just squeeze into these hot pants and I'll meet you in front of the Bowery Ballroom pronto. Punk-rock heroine band Bratmobile is opening for the Donnas, and I don't wanna be late.
Along with Bikini Kill, Bratmobile was Riot Grrrl when the band formed in 1991. The Riot Grrrl movement set out to show people that girls could make punk rock music, play live and be just as rowdy as the fellas. Erin Smith (guitar), Allison Wolfe (vocals) and Molly Neuman (drums) did just that. Pottymouth was released in 1993, and the rest is herstory. Though Bratmobile's songs all sounded more or less the same – quirky pop-punk beats, straightforward guitars, annoyingly whiny vocals and shut-up-listen-to-me lyrics – there was power in their determination to rock out, have fun and shout feminism. While tradition lectured to girls to be flaky, adorable and timid, Wolfe's lyrics were earnest, pissy and bold, and inspired girls to follow suit. Then Bratmobile disbanded in 1994. Wolfe and Smith formed Cold Cold Hearts and cut an album, while Neuman drummed with the PeeChees. The three regrouped in 1998 and released Ladies, Women and Girls in 2000. And here they are, opening for the Donnas.
Watching Bratmobile open for the Donnas is kind of like watching your older, wiser sister open for you, the popular kid sister. You know full well you'd be nowhere without big sister, but her time to shine has passed and now you're the one the masses want to see.
Wolfe acknowledged that some members of the crowd would rather be doing a million other things than be at a Bratmobile show. Shit, even the band knows people think of them as new-old news. But true to Bmob style, the ladies rocked like it was 1993. They opened with "The Real Janelle" and kept heads bobbing with "Eating Toothpaste," "Cool Schmool" and "Cheap Trick Record." Wolfe bounced around the stage in sequin Captain America underwear, blabbering nasal lyrics like they were a mantra. She kicked her legs up high, jumping-jacked off and shook her mound of red hair like a spoiled, uh, brat. Wearing bitch-red lipstick and snapping on chewing gum, Neuman's drumming was especially tight, and Smith hunched over her guitar, playing the most basic of chords with a James Dean swagger. At one point, Wolfe held the microphone to a girl in the crowd who screamed, "Girls kick ass!"
Speaking of ass, Bratmobile decided to have a butt-shaking contest with some of their pals before their set ended. Backs to the crowd, the contestants assumed their positions and shook their butts with gusto. Wolfe was the undisputed winner – her ass vibrated as if a 9-volt battery were squeezed between her cheeks. Is this love that I'm feelin' or what?