Women are the backbone of punk rock, adding their graceful vocal harmonies to the neverending crash-and-snare, power chord attack of 98 percent of punk rock songs out there.
Be it the first time you heard Beki Bondage and instantly fell in love with her over the lyrics to Vice Squad’s “Latex Love,” or that time you got through a high school breakup by listening to The Devotchkas “Wicked Heart,” to L.A.’s own Alice Bag who paved the way for an entire generation of unabashed women singing it the way it is, women-fronted punk bands transcended the genre of punk rock and were always in a superior league of their own. It doesn’t matter what beautiful style of punk rock you’re into — grindcore, ska-punk, emo — there was always a frontwoman to give you a nice little break from a cranky dude shouting into the mic for an hour.
In 2018, women are still carrying the stud-laced leather legacy that the pioneers started in the late 70s. In backyards all around Los Angeles County, bands like Psycotic Scum, MUTILATE, Gag Tape, and many, many, many others are still tearing it up. However, when it came to International Women’s Day, even a city with as much punk history as L.A. didn’t have its own stand-alone all-women punk show, an issue that Stephanie Mendez took upon herself to resolve.
“[International Women’s Day] feels like Christmas to me, except instead of receiving gifts, we are the gifts.”
“When I realized there was nothing going on in the punk scene on this day, I found it a bit shocking,” Mendez says over a phone interview. This was this three years ago when she first threw her first DIY “International Women’s Day Punk Gig” in her hometown of Santa Ana. This Saturday night at Avery Rare Shop, an art collective in downtown Los Angeles, is going to mark “Volume 3” of her annual gig that takes place and the lineup is as good as ever. It’s a wide range of sounds, from the hardcore-power violence vibes of Gag Tape to the cumbia-punk rhythms of Flor y Llanto that are on tour from Chicago.
The 28-year-old, Mexican-American feminist has been in the punk scene since she was 13 and is well-known in L.A. and O.C. punk communities. As a budding journalist, a story she wrote for Remezcla titled “5 of the Most Exciting Latinx Punk Bands in Los Angeles” went viral earlier this year, but as a punk rock lifer, she always tries to pay it forward to the genre that made her who she is. “I can’t think of any other force in my life that has been as profound to me as punk rock, it is what I know best.”
Mendez concludes that she sees International Women’s Day as an official holiday.
“The day feels like Christmas to me, except instead of receiving gifts, we are the gifts.”
For more information about the show, check out the event’s Facebook page.