Riot grrrls rule in historic ballroom

CeciliaCecilia Lynch-Kuhn
A crowd sprinkled with aging punkers flaunting throwback spiked hair, Doc Martens, bare arms, sports bras, and remnants of early eighties attire collected from the back of closets trickled into San Francisco’s renovated Regency Ballroom last Friday intent on recapturing an era when feminist punk pioneer bands, L7 and Frightwig, inspired flagging heads, stomping boots, and floating revelers.

As I told, my son, Brian, who treated me to the gig, the telltale wrinkles, graying hair, and pot bellies suggested that the punk generation had not aged as well as the over one-hundred year-old venue or the riotous, beat-driven music.

As we waited for Frightwig to take the stage, I found myself observing the disparity between event and venue. Handsome hardwood floors, teardrop chandeliers, thirty-five-foot ceilings, and an elegant, horseshoe-shaped balcony restored in original Scottish Rite neoclassic and beaux-arts style were about to be pummeled by a raucous 2-4 beat driving a sweaty mass of head swaying, bouncing, and thrashing.

One singular highlight of the concert, accurately captured in an SF Weekly article posted by Andrew Lentz on Monday, August, 21, 2015, compensated for getting toes stomped on, shins bloodied by a foolish girl wearing high heels, and shirts dampened by sweaty, nearly topless women caroming out of the mosh pit. The memorable event, described by Lentz, arose when Frightwig drummer Cecilia Lynch-Kuhn left her drum kit and strode to center stage (see http://www.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2015/08/31/feminist-pioneers-l7-and-frightwig-shine-at-the-regency-ballroom).

Lynch-Kuhn entered the performance looking like a statuesque, kindly, and well-preserved grandmother: unassuming, calm, dedicated to helping her band mates deliver a solid show. By the end of the gig, she commanded center stage, howling, cursing, and signing like a wounded banshee. She made me love being told in word and sign language to fuck off.

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