To say that there was a bit of excitement about legendary punk band Babes in Toyland returning to First Avenue, would be an understatement. So they had played Rock the Garden a few months ago. That was outdoors, in daylight! Punk bands don’t play in daylight! To add to their Twin Cities roots they recently picked up Clara Salyer seemingly out of the blue to be their bass player. In reality it shows how deeply connected the band is to the local music scene.
The mood at a packed First Avenue was as giddy as a bunch of old and young punk fans can get. And if you hung out stage left you were treated to a who is who in Minnesota music.
Kitten Forever preceded the main act. The young Minneapolis trio composed of Liz Elton, Laura Larson, and Corrie Harrigan is as wild and musically reckless as they come. Guitar? We don’t need no steenkin guitar! Drums, bass and a microphone will do. Band members switch instruments seemingly on a whim sometimes mid song. Drum beats hit the audience like machine gun fire and vocals come hard at a scream. Somehow some audience members managed to dance through the assault. Overall a perfect band to prepare the crowd for what was to come.
True to form Babes in Toyland took the stage and hit it. Hard. And with some miscues. And you know what? Nobody cared about the errors. Some brief adjustments between songs and all was in tune. If this was Soul band it would be a mistake. But this is punk. Punk does not give a shit, Punk does not care what writers write in their little notebooks, Punk is fast, Punk is raw, and Punk will stomp your face if you got a problem with that.
The crowd did not care either, by the 2nd song there was some light moshing, fists and arms were raised, people were jumping and screaming along as best they could. The pace was fast with barely any breaks between songs. Babes in Toyland are not likely to talk about their feelings or hug their fans. About halfway into the set however the special meaning of the venue and crowd set in. “I really don’t know what to say anymore, this is really special.” came from Lori Barbero. And local band Bruise Violet got a shout out when the song that inspired their group name came up.
A one song encore finished the very special night at First Ave. To quote Mel Brooks: “It’s good to be home, ain’t it Master Robin?”
Set List: He’s My Thing / Right Now / Spit to See the Shine / Bluebell / Swamp Pussy / Sweet ’69 / Won’t Tell / Drivin’ / Handsome & Gretel / Catatonic / Bruise Violet / Ariel / Ripe / Vomit Heart / Pearl / Spun / Dust Cake Boy Encore: Oh Yeah
Photo Credit: Billy Briggs