A little piece of herstory was made last night at The Regent Theater in Downtown Los Angeles when Riot Grill Fest took over for an all-femme punk, comedy and food extravaganza, with partial proceeds going to support Human Rights Campaign and LGBT causes. Upon walking in and literally almost running into badass drummer Patty Schemel twice, followed by chatting with the fantastic and inspirational Alice Bag, I knew right off the bat that Riot Grill Fest would prove to be something special.
Comedian Sara Schaefer eased the early bird crowd in with jokes that spanned a variety of topics from crackin’ on 2Chainz lyrics to pissing in the grocery store to ridiculously bad advertisements targeted at women. That combined with her enthusiastic introductions for each band translated into enthusiasm from the crowd.
Newbie garage punk duo Slutever took to the stage first. Their fairly low-key stage presence made it feel like you were sitting in on a band rehearsal (but in a really big room), but they rocked lout and you could tell they were having fun even amidst concentrating on playing well throughout the set. Drummer Patty Schemel joined them for a core chunk of their set and it felt like I was watching a momma bear leading her cubs and showing them the ropes of rocking out live.
Chef, host and mastermind behind Riot Grill, Nadia G of Bitchin’ Kitchen fame, then amped things up, beer in hand, with her band The Menstruators. The hodge-podge band got those punk rock wheels turning, churning out killer tunes such as “Slut Anthem,” “Grass,” and the perfect punk rock sing-a-long “We Don’t Care” (The Facebook Song), all accompanied by Nadia G’s witty introductions. The Menstruators finished off strong with a rollicking cover of Prince/Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
Next up, Le Butcherettes blew the crowd away with an intense, fireball set. Suddenly a mosh pit formed out of nowhere and anyone who wasn’t flailing around with their hands in the air, had their eyes affixed on singer/guitarist/keys player Teri Gender Bender. Teri’s commanding presence and vocals filled the room – complete with faces full of hair, microphone, and theatrical, contorted movements that were absolutely phenomenal and backed by beastly drums and bass. In no time, the entire room became possessed by the spirit of rock n’ roll! Le Butcherettes also went out with a bang, covering Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” with guest appearance from Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover of The Melvins.
Shortly thereafter things got even louder as the audience roared with applause when grunge/metal rock veterans Babes in Toyland came on. As drummer Lori Barbero and guitarist/vocalist Kat Bjelland stated in unison, “If you ain’t in the pit, you ain’t shit,” and from there the crowd lost it. A flying shoe, head-banging old dudes, cameras up and fists in the air for the rest of the set which included various heavy hits from across their highly influential three-album discography. I was especially struck by the best scream of the night from Lori Barbero at the end of, “Drivin,” off their ’95 album Nemesisters. Even Nadia G. was spotted in the crowd rockin’ out in full force during their set. This was a sign to me that Nadia G. accomplished what she set out to do with Riot Grill – celebrating badass bitches.
Photography: Manuel Domínguez
Words: Emily Saex