Bikini Kill

Bikini Kill  was an American punk rock band formed in Olympia, Washington, in October 1990.  The group consisted of singer and songwriter Kathleen Hanna, guitarist Billy Karren, bassist Kathi Wilcox, and drummer Tobi Vail.  The band is widely considered to be the pioneer of the riot grrrl movement, and was known for its radical feminist lyrics and fiery performances.  Their music is characteristically abrasive and hardcore-influenced.  After two full-length albums, several EPs and two compilations, they disbanded in 1997.  (More from Wikipedia)



Riot grrrl per se grew out of the hardcore punk scene in the early 1990’s and fused the power of that musical style with a strongly political feminist sensibility.  Interestingly, riot grrrl was strong in both Washingtons:  Washington, D.C. and Washington State, particularly Olympia.  I am still learning about riot grrrl myself; but the above album, Pussy Whipped by Bikini Kill (their second) is a recent acquisition (in vinyl I might add).  The album is an unadulterated blast of fury that is a compelling if somewhat challenging listen. 


In the late 1980’s, three students at the liberal Evergreen College in OlympiaKathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail and Kathi Wilcox began publishing a feminist fanzine called Bikini Kill.  Guitarist Billy Boredom was recruited to buttress the band that they formed of the same name, Bikini Kill; as you might imagine, his presence in the line-up is under-stated.  


The title of the first album by Bikini KillRevolution Girl Style Now (1991) sums up what the band was trying to accomplish.  Music and concert conventions were set aside so that female audience members could be closest to the stage, with women encouraged to tell their stories of sexual abuse during the performances. 


(December 2013)


Last edited: March 22, 2021