I have seen the future of rock and roll, and it’s called The Linda Lindas!
Of course the basis of that quote was written almost 50 years ago about a 25 year old “kid” from New Jersey. That “kid” is now selling tickets to his upcoming tour for multiple 4 figures. The Linda Lindas on the other hand, played Bowery Ballroom on Monday night with a ticket price of $20. Oh, and The Linda Lindas are legitimate KIDS too. Ranging in age from 11 through 17, the young girls from LA put on a show which, if nothing else, reminded us elders as to what rock and roll is supposed to be all about, something that skinny dude from the Jersey Shore did back in ’74. I left Bowery on Monday night absolutely speechless and completely bowled over as to what I’d just witnessed. Which was, on the surface, four girls from Los Angeles spending their summer vacation in front of packed concert halls and clubs, on stage playing their hearts out and having an absolute blast in doing so. But it was so much more than that.
I first learned of The Linda Lindas last year when their video of “Racist, Sexist Boy” which was shot at the Los Angeles Public Library went viral. Upon seeing it, I knew immediately that this band had “it” and I would need to see them if and whenever A) Covid ever ended and B) they were old enough to tour. Well imagine how stoked I was when I discovered they were added as an opener to play at Jawbreakers‘s Irving Plaza shows in earlier this year (see our coverage of night one). I already had tickets for one of these shows so the punk rock gods were surely looking down on me. Well suffice it to say, those very same gods must have gone on vacation because the week of those shows at Irving Plaza I came down with Covid and had to miss them. The band also scheduled their own headlining show at Mercury Lounge on an off day during that run which I obviously couldn’t make either (see our coverage). DAMN YOU COVID!
The Linda Lindas “Racist, Sexist Boy”
The band was next scheduled to play a handful of festivals during their summer break from school during which they were able to fit in a club show here and there. One night at Music Hall of Williamsburg and one at Bowery Ballroom, two perfect rooms. As fate would have it, due to a scheduling conflict I couldn’t make the MHOW show. Then Covid reared its ugly head once again and the Bowery show was postponed and the MHOW show ultimately moved to October due to someone in the touring party testing positive. Fortunately the Bowery Ballroom show was able to proceed a little less than a week after the original date.
Which brings us to Monday evening. Knowing Bowery doesn’t have a designated photo pit, I decided to arrive early to stake out a spot at the stage. I immediately felt guilty when I saw that I was surrounded by a significant amount of pre teen girls pining for The Lindas. I would ultimately stay up front for only the first three songs, abdicating my spot to more deserving kids. I, of course, was well aware that this was an all ages show, but I was truly surprised to see the multitude of kids (with parents in tow) in the crowd. It was quite awesome to see.
The band hit the stage right on cue at 8:30 with the perfect opener: “Growing Up,” the title track to their debut album. The tune absolutely set the tone for the entire evening with the band jumping, dancing, laughing, smiling and camping it up all while singing the apropos lyrics:
We’ll dance like nobody’s there
We’ll dance without any cares
We’ll talk bout problems we share
We’ll talk bout things that ain’t fair
We’ll sing bout things we don’t know
We’ll sing to people and show
What it means to be young
And growing up.
The Linda Lindas
And of course each and every kid in the audience sang every word right along with the band, all the while capturing the video on a multitude of smartphones. It’s kind of funny, normally the abundance of cell phones capturing each and every moment of a show will annoy me. But for this band, this night and this audience, it seemed right. This after all was the Tik Tok generation and to this boomer, it all seemed spot on.
I was completely mesmerized by the proficiency each of the band members had with their perspective instruments. These teens have CHOPS! and talent beyond their years, not to mention socially mature as well. For a bunch of young teens to stand on stage in front of a packed club and not only perform masterfully, but to also be able to communicate intelligently and coherently to the crowd between songs is something that any parent would be incredibly proud of. Sure there was the teenage giggling and “teens being teens” moments, but that just added to the charm of The Linda Lindas stage persona.
I honestly can’t say it enough: between Bela (guitar), Mila (drums), Eloise (bass), and Lucia (guitar), each and every one of these girls was having a blast on stage. They were living their dream and sharing it with countless young girls in the audience who were likewise having the times of their lives watching their peers onstage. They so wonderfully prove that there is a place where young kids can be themselves, can do what they want, have fantastic time doing it and most importantly, succeed in doing so. Getting to see this in real time was so refreshing.
The Linda Lindas
All that being said, I can’t help but think that this was much more than just a concert. The 16 song set included everything from both the Linda Lindas EP as well as Growing Up in addition to their cover of The Go Go’s hit “Tonight” which after playing it in their live sets for quite some time now, the band finally released a studio version of it this week. The Go Go’s are obviously a big influence on The Linda Lindas; they’ve borrowed heavily from that Go Go sound and honestly built on it quite effectively. I’d like to add that I was lucky enough to have seen The Go Go’s at their first NYC show at the Mudd Club back in 1980. And while The Go Go’s were already in their early to mid 20’s at that time, The Linda Lindas are already light years ahead of where their predecessors were in terms of chops and musicianship.
The Linda Lindas “Tonite” (Go Go’s Cover)
The closing tune of the evening was another cover, this time Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” during which the band was joined on stage by the members of opening band, Bacchae. This is another tune which has been a staple of the Lindas’ live set for some time now but despite having seen YouTube videos of it, I was not even remotely prepared for how powerful it would prove to be as the closing number in person. With the stage packed with all of these strong, confident, and talented young women screaming the iconic lines “Rebel girl! Rebel girl! Rebel girl you are the queen of my world!” one couldn’t help but feel that maybe, just maybe, this next generation might be equipped to fix this mess of a world to which we are leaving them. Which brings to mind another lyric of The Linda Lindas from their aforementioned hit song “Racist, Sexist Boy” which reads “we rebuild what you destroy.”
Leaving Bowery Ballroom on Monday night, this aging boomer couldn’t help but feel a tinge of optimism that the state of rock and roll and maybe/hopefully society in general is in much better shape than I’d previously thought.
The Linda Lindas “Rebel Girl” (Bikini Kill cover)
The Linda Lindas setlist: Growing Up, Missing You, Monica, Talking to Myself, Nino, Why, Oh!, Remember, Cuántas Veces, Fine, Tonite (Go Go’s Cover), Racist Sexist Boy, Rebel Girl (Bikini Kill cover)
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Ray Rusinak)
THE LINDA LINDAS