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The Julie Ruin Tell It Like It Is

October 28th, 2013

The Julie Ruin – Music Hall of Williamsburg – October 25, 2013


The Julie Ruin, the latest project from riot grrrl pioneer Kathleen Hanna (of Le Tigre and Bikini Kill), along with bandmates Kathi Wilcox (also of Bikini Kill), Kenny Mellman (of Kiki and Herb fame) along with Carmine Covelli and Sara Landeau, played a sold out show at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday night, creating an intimate, convivial vibe among the crowd of fans, many of whom have been following Hanna’s career since the early ’90s.

Talking to the audience like an old friend (“So, anyway, you guys”), Hanna addressed a range of topics between songs, from the pressure of constantly being asked to give advice to young feminists (“I never know what to say”) to candidly speaking about how her late-stage Lyme disease (an illness that had kept her from performing for many years) was causing her to forget a lot of her lyrics as she sang (“Every night is different!”). That candor and openness translates to the music as well, and the Julie Ruin’s material is straight up: They aim to tell it like it is—and make you dance.

Songs off their new album, Run Fast, like “Oh Come On,” “Lookout,” “Girls Like Us” and “Run Fast,” delivered Hanna’s feminist standpoint with infectious guitar riffs, group harmonies and energetic shouted statements. And in many ways, the Julie Ruin’s style is a logical extension of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, while also accessible enough to appeal to younger listeners who may have missed out on both of those bands altogether. Of course, for the longtime fans, the band threw in a song from each group, performing Bikini Kill’s “This Is Not a Test” and Le Tigre’s “Friendship Station.” As she performed, Hanna danced vigorously and confidently. Although she mentioned often feeling like she’s stuck in a ’90s time machine (“because that’s what everyone always asks me about”), the power of the Julie Ruin’s sound and message should certainly give everyone something new to talk about. —Alena Kastin