Moonlight Phoenix has risen

music, feminism, spirituality, words and more

The Julie Ruin at The Electric Ballroom, Camden 26/5/2015

on May 27, 2015

Well yesterday was my first gig proper (excluding local band gigs) for almost 2 years! The last one I went to was to see Taffy back in July 2013!

I had been waiting for a long time for this particular gig as it was originally going to take place in May last year, then lead singer Kathleen Hanna fell ill (she suffers from Lyme disease) and it was postponed to later in the year, but then it got postponed again, so I’d been waiting over a year for this gig! and the anticipation was even higher than it would have been anyway, as those who know me well will know I am a huge fan of Kathleen Hanna. She is one of my inspirations and it would be fair to say that her music with Bikini Kill and Le Tigre helped me on my path to feminism. So obviously when she formed a new band with her former solo project’s name ‘The Julie Ruin’, and they announced a date in London, there was no doubt I had to be there!

I had originally got two tickets thinking either my partner or a friend would perhaps accompany me. Due to my husband’s health problems, he can be in lots of pain or perfectly alright from day to day, and he had some pain in the lead up to the week of the gig, so we thought it would be best to find someone else to take his place. I offered to my friends first, but most of the people who would have been interested were either at another gig the same night(Babes in Toyland on the same night- a good night for the riot grrrl resurrection), live too far away, or didn’t have the money to get to London.

I was quite prepared to go alone, as I have been to gigs alone before, when I was a gig reviewer, it was common practice, and it was actually fine and not scary at all! But then I had a brain wave, rather than not using it, or trying to sell it, perhaps I could try to give it away to someone who maybe couldn’t go because they hadn’t been able to afford a ticket, or something like that. That’s happened to me loads of times, so I know I would appreciate that! So I posted a tweet on Twitter and tagged The Julie Ruin, asking them to retweet. They retweeted me and so did several other people. I got a reply from a girl called Rika, as she was the first one to reply (I did get a few others after), I got in touch with her and we arranged to meet at the gig, since the tickets were on my phone anyway, and perhaps we could be make friends too 🙂

Anyway…I left mine around 5 to try and get to Camden for 7. I enjoyed the train journey, as I looked out at the window, admiring tall daisies on the way and even saw a fox (!) Got to Liverpool street and I was hungry, so grabbed a tofu curry from the Japanese place there, then made my way to tube as it was rush hour and manic. Northern line was packed and hot! Was relieved when I finally got to Camden town, I was a little early (not much) just enough time for me to sit and munch my curry (which I managed to get all over my hoodie oops) then wander over to the Electric Ballroom to see if I could spot Rika.

I spotted a small Japanese girl, and I was a bit unsure to begin with, but after a few minutes I asked and it was her, so we joined the queue and had a chat. She has only been in London 2 months, and she is studying Languages at university here. I was glad I gave the ticket to her, as she was really nice and seemed to really appreciate it 😀

The doors opened just after 7.30pm, after a bag check, we went in and navigated where the toliets were (hadn’t been to this venue for ages)! then got a drink (with some language help from me), before finding a spot near the front to watch the support acts.

The first one came on around 8 I think and were an all female band called ‘Feature’. I loved them! Raucous, passionate, melodic punk, this was right up my street 🙂 Everyone else seemed to be enjoying them too.

In between the support acts, I had to visit the loo again, and there was a huge queue, so by the time I came back down, it was hard to get to my same spot, so we were slightly further back but still near the front. Then the second act ‘Woolf’ came on, sadly I was suffering with bad tummy cramps during their set, so couldn’t enjoy it as much as I might have done, but they were shouty queer punk very similar to Bikini Kill, I felt! The songs/shouting words (lol) were very short, so they must have played quite a lot of songs in that time. During their set, so twat decided to come falling onto me and a load of other people, probably hoping to start some sort of moshpit, but everyone looked at him with disdain then he went away again! This was a Kathleen Hanna gig after all, if she had been on stage at the time I don’t think she would have been amused! (In her Bikini Kill days she would discourage violence and ask for girls only to be at the front). There was a definite sense of community spirit at the gig as the woman in front of me asked if I was okay (I was) and we said how it was completely inappropriate. Then when Woolf finished, she had to go to the loo so she asked me to hold her space, so along with her boyfriend I did, and when she came back she even offered me some of her beer! (which  politely declined but only because I’m not a beer drinker lol)

It seemed like forever before the main event started, I always get impatient at gigs! It was getting more and more crowded in the venue and people were definitely trying to get closer to the stage.

Finally, the band members started to arrive on stage one by one, until all but Kathleen Hanna was there. The band obviously knew who the star of the night was, as anticipation was getting higher and higher as we waited for the queen of riot grrrl to step onto the stage.

I haven’t been able to find the setlist yet so not sure what song they started with but the crowd went mad, not violent, just very enthusiastic jumping up and down! I managed to cope with a couple of songs before I decided to move a bit further back, mainly as I wanted a bit more space to dance! It was so crowded, it was quite hard to get through the crowds but I managed to get about halfway back where I found a small space I could just about dance in! I could then begin to enjoy the gig properly and enjoy I did!

I was a bit disappointed but not entirely unexpected that they didn’t play any Bikini Kill songs and only 1 Le Tigre song (Friendship Station) but hearing The Julie Ruin’s songs live was actually a lot better than on CD, and the songs are so danceable, you can’t help but like them 🙂 They also played ‘Radical or Pro-Parental’ which is a song from the original solo project.

As well as great songs, they spoke a lot between songs, and as you might be able to guess Kathleen Hanna had lots of cool things to say. Just some of the things she mentioned- abortion, being called a slut for wearing tap shoes when she was 6 years old by her father, and how there are many types of feminism in the world and that’s okay, it’s okay to not agree with it all.

The set was about 1 hour in total with 1 song as encore.

the songs I do know were played (in no particular order as I can’t remember):  Radical or Pro-parental, Friendship Station, Run Fast (encore song), Oh Come On, Goodnight Goodbye, Lookout, Party City, Ha Ha Ha.

I managed to find the whole set on Youtube, so if you’re interested, here it is:


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