Alice Bag’s Release Record Show With Trap Girl, Fatty Cakes And The Puff Pastries At The Echo, Saturday April 7th 2018
Alice Bag has a voice, a great voice and I am not only talking about her singing voice, she is definitively a voice for the young women of this generation, despite admitting on stage that her 60th anniversary was approaching. Co-founder of the punk band the Bags in the mid ‘70s, she is still raging on stage and empowering tons of young people with a constant determination built on her experience of teacher, author, activist and feminist, but above everything her long-time experience of punk singer songwriter.
She released her debut solo album on Don Giovanni Records in 2016, and last Saturday, she had a release party at the Echo for her new album ‘Blueprint’, also on Don Giovanni Records, and made possible by a successful Kickstarter campaign. ‘I was not used to ask for money’, she told us as if she wanted to excuse herself to have used this modern way to finance her new baby, ‘But it was a way to include people in the process’.
For the occasion, she had made a very DIY blue bag outfit… ‘Now you all know where I shop’, she joked while everyone was recognizing the brand of the famous Swedish furniture store. But it all made sense, Alice Bag was wearing a blue bag for the release of ‘Blueprint’ and she had invited to her party many surprise guests, such as Teri Gender Bender (of Le Butcherettes), Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, The Julie Ruin), Allison Wolfe (Bratmobile, Sex Stains) and musician and actress Lysa Flores, who are all featured on her new album.
But Alice is always championing the underground and rising Latin bands (with a preference for bands emerging from the LGBT community) and the night started with Trap Girl, a sort of Latina Divine singing hardcore with the violence of Black Flag. I totally dug her demonic metal scream and her powerhouse-riff band, they were producing a blistering sound while Drew (her real name) was slaying the stage on her high heels. Between the songs she was as trash-female as she could be, with a 3-foot tall beehive on her head, which made her say: ‘I have the biggest hair and the shortest skirt ever’. She was a bloody savage, all powerful with a diva dimension rarely seen in the hardcore punk scene, ‘I have a cocaine medical card officer’, as she was abundantly joking between songs. She was joined on stage by the girls from Fatty Cakes for a surprising Ronettes classic, ‘Be My Baby’, but because of her smoky eyes and big hair, it all made sense.
Fatty Cakes and the Puff Pastries was another scene to witness, a row of strong women of all sizes and color, singing together in multi voices, with a taste for curious harmonies in the dissonance. Frontgirl Amber Fargano, dressed in pink, kept calling us children and used a ukulele to launch plenty of ferocious punk assaults. At the end, their sound was damn upbeat and there was plenty of humor in the delivery with the colorful lead of Amber and the backing vocals of pretty much all the other people on stage: Vishinna Turner on bass, Audrey Johnson on drums, Staci Mcdowell on q chord and Victoria Crow on glockenspiel. They had a ‘panic attack’ song and they basically formed a very odd assemblage, celebrating their awesome weirdness with pink beret, flower crown, blue lipstick and all you can eat pizza.
Alice Bag didn’t waste any time, as soon as she got on stage, she started her fierce ‘Turn It Up’ with its very melodic and catchy chorus, and this sounded as pop as Alice Bag can go, if it wasn’t for her bold delivery and her stage bouncing style. I had been to her previous release 2 years ago, and this new style looked more civilized in comparison which didn’t mean she didn’t have something vindictive to say,
After the Cramps-like guitars of ‘The Sparkling Path’, she was joined on stage by Teri Gender Bender for ‘Se Cree Joven’, and ‘Blue Print’ was a rampart of riot grrrls with Kathleen Hanna, Allison Wolfe, Lysa Flores and Teri Gender Bender adding layers of passionate wails and contagious head banging while ‘77’ was the real punk fury, unleashing a new level of anger while raging about the salary gender gap.
‘White Justice’ was inspired by the National Chicano Moratorium Committee’s march through East Los Angeles to protest the Vietnam War’s drafting of Chicano citizens in the ‘70s (and an allusion to the killing of Chicano reporter Ruben Salazar), but during the stomping rage of ‘White justice doesn’t work for me/White justice is a travesty’, everyone was probably thinking about the recent events of the No movement, and marches throughout the US.
In less than an hour, Alice Bag touched all the social justice problems, she screamed about rape and violence against women during one of her most powerful punk anthems ‘No Means No’, a song from her 2016 self-titled album, which was introduced by a friend reciting her own poem about domestic violence. ‘Rape is an act of violence, it’s not about sex it’s about domination’, she addressed her predominantly female audience. She also raged after the school system with ‘Programmed’, a song title speaking by itself but she still took the time to explain her tough critique of the school system (she was a teacher for 20 years) ,while catching her breath. And after this, the crowd was in true moshing mode, empowered by her passionate discourse.
The ‘Violence Girl’ brought even more madness during the ringing guitars of ‘Reign of Fear’ even digging up old classics by the Bags like ‘Gluttony’ and ‘We Don’t Need the English’,… and of course they were the more aggressive songs of the night.
She couldn’t play much more because it was an early and all-age show with a strict curfew, but I had never seen so many people forming a line at the merchandize table after the show! Alice Bag must have been stuck there for some time, posing for photos with fans… She easily proved she is still a prominent voice, a feminist and activist, and the same Chicana rebel she used to be 40 years ago. Her message couldn’t have been clearer and more direct, and in our increasingly senseless and confusing world, during this fact-free Trump era, Alice Bag has modestly all figured it out, with a blueprint to guide the next generation out of this mess.
Turn It Up
The Sparkling Path
Se Cree Joven
No Means No
Reign of Fear
We Don’t Need the English