Petrol Girls

The reason why a festival like Rebellion is such a goldmine for me is that you can discover fantastic new bands that deliver on every level. And so it was with the mighty Petrol Girls.

In fact this afternoon’s trio, the Membranes, Interrobang, and Petrol Girls indicate why punk is so interesting, even if it is self-defined and means something different to everyone. Together, the three bands took the festival up a level. It was already great, this made in really great.

It is empowering and inspiring to see the level of honesty that Petrol Girls possess.

8 years ago they were on acoustic stage, now here they are holding their own on the main stage, a thrilling four piece, male-female combo with lots to say. They don’t just entertain – they provoke, and give you lots to think about.

And if there is any doubt that they can entertain, their ‘ahh ahh aah’s’ are a welcome sonic addition to punk’s song language.

There’s certainly no doubt about their aim to provoke……the set began with an angry declaration that they stand against ‘punks replicating the forms of authority that we stand against’. Forms of authority that Include sexist, racist, homophobic attitudes.

I can only admire a singer who addresses recent suicides in the music community and urges the audience individuals to ‘try and fucking talk about this shit….to friends, family, mental health professionals.’ She went even further and spoke about her personal experience with ‘dynamic therapy, online cognitive behaviour resources….all during a set of powerful, captivating, intense and creative hard music.

This was not some narcissistic ‘look-at-me’ drama either, the meaningful words were combined with a nurturing sensitivity. Onlookers were advised that in four songs time sexual violence was going to be addressed from the stage, giving people who weren’t prepared for such a discussion the choice to avoid it.

Petrol Girls remind me of the type of community solidarity that the early hardcore bands, most notably 7 Seconds sang about. Yet this seems to be an evolution, instead of communicating ‘we are all together – that’s great’, the new enlightened punks like Petrol Girls are saying ‘we are all together – and if thing’s aren’t great, let’s figure out ways collectively to make them better’. And that includes refusing unwanted advances, rejecting gender norms that don’t fit and the ‘bullshit society expects of us’. Now that’s what I call punk rock!

A big personal highlight was the song, No One Reacts, and another one was seeing the merch desk that included a music, patches, their own fanzine as well as a book endorsed by Margaret Atwood, no less, about women’s first-hand experiences of being undermined by attitudes and physical assaults. Naturally, Petrol Girls contributed to it.


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