w/Betty X, Stink Mitt
Mon April 26, Graceland, 9 pm, $6.
Around the turn of the '00s, the Riot Grrrl revolution found itself with new sparks to stoke the embers of the previous decade's flame: Le Tigre's Kathleen Hannah triumphantly re-routed Bikini Kill's roar through femme-centric electrobeats, while Peaches showed up on the mainstream radar in vinyl skivvies and gave the electropunk set a fist to pump, a sexual aggression to remember, and a beat to grind. As Le Tigre, Peaches, and Chicks on Speed reminded young women that being a rock chick doesn't always require the usual set of amps and instruments, their success focused attention on similarly smart, arty, electronically based acts that blended punk and personal politics.
Post-Peaches uproar, there are still excellent new millennium artists who infuse a punk Riot Grrrl aesthetic with an electronic beat--women who continue to break through cultural consciousness with intelligent, artistic music that makes you shake your hips and use your head. The foremost and most recent Northwest artist in this category is the witty three-piece Tracy + the Plastics (Wynne Greenwood, now a N.Y. resident), who uses beautiful, sturdy vocals, lesbian politics, and televised bandmates to create audio-visual electropop. From Olympia, Greenwood's former hometown, Cindy Wonderful and Sarah Adorable are starting to make a name for themselves: They've coined themselves Scream Club, and--applying the feminist Riot Grrrl aesthetic to hiphop--are creating a style fusion that people are already buzzing about.
Denver native Wonderful and former Chicago resident Adorable are a couple who experienced "love at first sight" two years ago when Wonderful applied for a job at Olympia's Desire Video, where Adorable was the assistant manager. Six months later, they took Wonderful's years-old, single-emcee concept and fleshed it out into a two emcees/two dancers/action-packed hiphop set with a strong lesbian identity. The women's hot erotic fantasies are peppered with colorful plays on words ("If lovin' is a war, consider me a vet.... I'll be schoolin' ya on the female anatomy/Give new meaning to the word naval academy"), but they also project a fierce distrust of class-based culture and corporate-dependant economies. They're liberal lesbian activists who want to empower their fans as much as they want to make them sweat, and also make them grin (as with Tracy, there's definitely a sense of humor here). Scream Club are backed by solid beats as well as guest appearances from names in both the underground hiphop community (Busdriver and Subtitle, to name two) and the indie rock realm (Mirah and the Gossip's Beth Ditto), all of whom lend voices to the band's upcoming record.
Live, Scream Club perform dressed in various home-stitched outfits, which in the past have included matching red and white uniforms, hair cut into hers 'n' hers white faux hawks, and painted red bandit masks. Their off-the-cuff moves call just as much attention to themselves, as they've exposed their breasts to their fans, made out with each other, and wrestled each other to the ground.
"I like having a glam-rock appeal [as well as hiphop]," says Adorable, "having the costumes be over-the-top and doing dance moves and running around. There's plenty of good shows where a rapper stands in place with a mic, but we wanted something different."
Although their sound is hiphop, Adorable and Wonderful say their music definitely has roots in punk as well. "I feel like we're a punk band that raps," says Adorable, while Wonderful adds, "The whole DIY ethic is something I relate to with punks more. There's a lot of politics in [both] hiphop and punk, but even a lot of the open-minded hiphop is still sexist."
With a debut album coming out in June and dancers Ruby Valentine and Mark of the Unicorn at their side, Scream Club are already building something exciting. But Wonderful says the band still needs to give their live show more boom. "The sound has to get into people's blood and we're not quite there yet," she admits. "Once we get that last ingredient, though, watch out... it'll be fun times." But then again, for Scream Club fans, the fun times have already arrived (in gold chains and striped ties), mouthing off a wicked set of rhymes.