TVD Live: Babes in Toyland at the Roxy,
2/12

“They are the princesses of punk. They are the matriarchs of metal. They are goddesses of grunge. They were riot grrrls. Now they’re riot moms, ” Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine said to the sold-out Roxy crowd as he introduced Babes in Toyland to the stage.

It was their first time performing since disbanding in 2001 and Morello recounted the time he fell in love with Babes in Toyland in 1993 when Rage Against the Machine and Babes in Toyland toured together during Lollapalooza.

It was that same year when I went to Lollapalooza. It was a very impressive lineup that featured Primus, Alice in Chains, Rage Against the Machine, Fishbone, and Tool. But the band that really left a big impression on me was the Minneapolis trio Babes in Toyland—so much so that I immediately bought their CD on the drive home. That album was Fontanelle, released in 1992 that spawned bruising guitar songs and screaming anthems like “Bruise Violet” and “Handsome & Gretel.” That day, Babes in Toyland left a lasting impact on me and introduced me and, I’m sure, a lot of people as well to the Riot Grrl scene—a movement that embraced girl power and the power to change the status quo.

So when news broke that Babes in Toyland would perform for the first time in 14 years fans snatched up tickets, selling out the Roxy in minutes—this from a band who hadn’t released any new material in two decades.

Standing room only wasn’t just relegated to the floor. This night the VIP section wasn’t immune. The VIP area, where celeb fans such as L7’s Donita Sparks, Tom Morello, and Eric Erlandson and Patty Schemel of Hole were spotted, is usually a sit-down, relaxing hub away from the shoulder-to-shoulder, sweaty confines of the stage floor. Not tonight. The section swelled wall-to-wall with people. The Roxy was brimming with anticipation like kegs of gunpowder waiting for a single spark to ignite in a wall of raw, thunderous sound.

Performing songs off their three full-length albums (Spanking Machine, Fontanelle and Nemesisters), Babes in Toyland opened their set with “Jungle Train” but it was their second song “Here’s My Thing” off 1990’s Spanking Machine that threw the crowd into a frenzy. That was all the spark the crowd needed as they witnessed Kat’s ferociousness on guitar along with her blood-curling vocals that didn’t seem lost from years of hibernation. Lori, merciless as ever on drums roared like an out-of-control freight train while Maureen was calm and cool on bass like a trained assassin perched from a deadly distance.

But in spite of the their long hiatus, the trio didn’t seem to treat this show as a reunion show —it felt more like business as usual—another gig as though they’ve been playing all this time like they’ve never left.

Quickly transitioning to each song, one after another, they barely spoke between songs. Absent were over-pouring feelings of reuniting and thoughts of missing the stage. But if you asked the sold-out crowd they couldn’t care less. This night was all about the music. It was all about Babes in Toyland, the anti-social, socialites who paved the way and influenced future riot grrrl bands like Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney.

Their set, a celebration of what Kat Bjelland, Lori Barbero, and Maureen Herman are known for—screeching feedback slapped with thrashing punk/grunge riffs, even included a song off their first EP “To Mother,” “Spit to See the Shine” along with classic favorites like “Bruise Violet,” “Bluebell,” “Handsome & Gretal,” and “Sweet 69” which they closed out their 50-minute set with.

It’s been a long and rough road for Kat, Lori, and Maureen to get themselves to this point. Much has been written about Babes In Toyland’s time since they broke up in 2001; from addictions to metal illness. But as Morello put it bluntly about their journey from then to their first show in over a decade, ” Babes in Toyland have gone through hell but each one of them looked the devil square in the eyes, gave them the old Minneapolis middle finger and said, ‘You can’t get the better of me mister. Because me and my badass sisters have got some more fucking rock and roll to play.'”

Recently, Babes in Toyland have confirmed they were writing new songs and have also announced a string of tour dates in the U.K. beginning this May that includes some festival dates.

The Roxy setlist (2/12/15): Jungle Train, Here’s My Thing, Bluebell, Oh Yeah, Spit to See the Shine, Bruise Violet, Right Now, Swamp Pussy, Won’t Tell, Drivn’, Ariel, Handsome & Gretel, Sweet ’69

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  • Marcus

    Love the last picture of Eric and Patty from Hole.

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