While it's disheartening that Kathleen Hanna's rumored retirement from music and the dissolution of Sleater-Kinney seem to coincide with the commencement of a particularly uninspired era of female singer-songwriters (I fail to see what fresh perspectives Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse bring to the table), it's reassuring to know that the queercore underground is alive and well—and busting both hearts and rhymes in our fair city.
Local lesbionic hip-hop duo Team Gina got their start a little over a year ago as an impulsively conceived dance troupe backing up Olympia's Scream Club, but they have since evolved into a wildly entertaining, pop-influenced rap outfit. Reminiscent of the criminally overlooked Long Island feminist hip-hop act Northern State, Gina Bling and Gina Genius posit themselves as complementary opposites, balancing kitschy references to Jem and the Holograms and Bell Biv DeVoe with flashes of liberal smarts, aligning themselves with "Langston Hughes and leftist views," and making no secret of their affection for badass butch babes ("I don't mean to be predictable/But you're going to have to pin me against the wall").
When I meet up with TG at Cafe Venus, they are tucked cozily into a booth, wearing matching canary-yellow hoodies, with their graffitied baseball caps askew and their bubbly demeanors and fresh-faced good looks attracting admiring glances from customers of both genders.
"We met at a Scream Club show in Olympia and pretty much decided to start doing synchronized dance choreography together that night," explains Gina Genius. "But we didn't really expect much out of it other than touring the world with them." Thanks to the encouragement of Scream Club leader Cindy Wonderful, the pair soon found themselves in Wonderful's basement studio, recording their debut, Gina Gina Revolution, which was jointly released earlier this year by Crunk's Not Dead and Don't Stop Believin' Records. "She basically just asked us backstage one night when we were going to make a record, and then it just turned into this monster that takes up all our time now," laughs Gina Bling. There are two options to catch Team Gina this week as part of Pride-related festivities: Swing by Lick at Chop Suey on Thursday, June 21, for their DJ set; or catch their live show at Wild Rose on Saturday, June 23.
Another up-and-coming act mentored by an influential feminist forerunner rolls into town this weekend, taking the Sunset stage on Saturday, June 23. San Antonio, Texas' Girl in a Coma are as influenced by the Smiths as their moniker implies, but the all-female, Latina trio also put plenty of spit-polished guitar and intimidating atmospherics into their silver-throated sound, elements that pricked the ears of riot godmamma Joan Jett and got them signed last year to her label, Blackheart Records. They've just released Both Before I'm Gone, a slickly produced but smartly executed collection of dreamy, anthemic hard rock that sounds like what Throwing Muses might have committed to tape if they had bigger budgets. "Joan is great," says drummer Phanie Diaz via e-mail. "Every time we see her, it's nothing but words of encouragement—she always gives us that smile. What we've learned from her is to never give up on what makes you happy."
That same sentiment has obviously contributed to the ongoing success of Havana proprietor Quentin Ertel, who continues to follow his personal instincts about what constitutes a good time, with winning results. Last Saturday, the Capitol Hill club played host to the window-rattling sounds of the Cops and the Saturday Knights, both of whom pulled off impressively engaging sets that were lively and loud, but not ear-splitting—no small feat considering the acoustic-amplifying tin ceiling and enormous picture windows surrounding them. Afterward, the Knights premiered the video for their inexhaustibly catchy single, "45," a boisterous, black-and-white document that perfectly captures their inclusive, party-perpetuating ethos and provided the audience with plenty of spot-the-cameo opportunities (yes, that was Jack Endino on drums).
The event was originally scheduled to take place entirely in Havana's parking lot, with the video being projected on the outside walls. That lovely idea was temporarily quashed by inclement weather, but it's a setup that will be revisited this summer. "There are definitely plans in the works for the parking lot this summer," says Ertel. "Those include a couple of fund-raising parties, the Capitol Hill Block Party, a possible half-pipe skateboarding demo, and a movie night—because Scarface needs to be shown on that wall!"