Concert Reviews

Bikini Kill concert review | Cleveland, OH | 04.16.23

It was a rock-filled Sunday night at The Agora! Bikini Kill finally made their long-awaited appearance after multiple postponements due to COVID. The girls are back and NOTHING has changed. They’re all still rebel girls ready to rock while encouraging everyone to make a difference! It’s not every evening that Cleveland hosts pioneers of the punk riot grrrl movement and fans could not have been more excited to play the role of a gracious host.

The ladies of Bikini Kill aren’t spring chickens anymore, but that doesn’t stop them from rocking out with the same tenacity and energy of a young band on the rise! The age range at this sold-out show really ran the gamut. OG fans that have followed the band from their humble beginnings quite possibly have children of their own, many of whom accompanied mom and/or dad to the show for their first exposure to the world of punk rock activism. While not every song is… erm.. “kid-friendly.” (For example: the hit song “I Like Fucking.”) But the messages of equality and female power are something any age should learn. Vocalist Kathleen Hanna made the comment of trying to make the show more kid-friendly, but the titles are what they are.

Hanna came decked out in a pink sequin dress and her signature high bun; ready to empower everyone in attendance and channel her inner 19-year-old self. (Which she did exquisitely, by the way!) The energy was palpable. The connection she was able to make in between songs with the audience was definitely one of a kind. She was able to create a super personal connection by engaging in regular “everyday” conversations with the audience. The gals encouraged everyone in attendance to sign a petition on abortion law reform while also giving everyone a way to decompress from the current social climate of today. 

Bikini Kill at The Agora on 4.16.23 | Video courtesy of YouTube user pudakak

Hanna was on vocals for the majority of the performance, while occasionally switching off with the drummer Tobi Vail, with fellow original member Kathi Wilcox on bass, and Erica Dawn Lyle taking over for former member Billy Karren on this tour. 

The band hasn’t made new music in 27 years which created an amazing environment for an all-out BANGER of a concert and allowed the gals to be worry-free about pushing a new record. They played a variety of songs from their three studio albums. Everyone in the audience was thrilled to hear their favorite Bikini Kill hit​​s like “Jigsaw Youth” and “Reject All American.”

The takeaway from the night is everyone should be able to go and do whatever the hell they want, wherever they want, without being scared. For those that disagree. you can all SUCK MY LEFT ONE.”  Hanna and the rest of the crowd all agreed when chanting “SUCK … MY…LEFT…ONE!”

The girls couldn’t leave for good without an encore, of course. Hanna joked, “We would go Bruce Springsteen on your asses and keep you here til 3:00 AM, but we don’t have that many songs.” The original Riot Grrl herself had to go out with a bang with none other than “Rebel Girl,”‘ dancing and singing like it was ‘94.

Nothing could stop these girls from rocking out and the show was 10000000% worth the wait.

A good show always comes with an exciting opener and that’s exactly what Donkey Bugs was with their experimental sound and eccentric outfits. They were able to get the crowd warmed up and hyped for the evening’s headliner.

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