Book launch in NYC draws a reunion performance by Bikini Kill, a reappearance by Palmolive and “A Fairytale in the Supermarket”
By Mary Karmelek
Saturday night, an event celebrating the launch of Jenn Pelly’s new book on the Raincoats’ debut album, The Raincoats and Friends, took place at The Kitchen in Chelsea, New York City. And to the surprise of many, the “Friends” included Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail, and Kathi Wilcox, who took the stage together for the first time in 20 years to perform “For Tammy Rae.” Here’s a clip:
And if a Bikini Kill reunion wasn’t enough of a treat from the past, the Raincoats’ Gina Birch and Ana da Silva performed along with Palmolive on drums. Palmolive—the original drummer of the Slits and drummer on the Raincoats’ debut album—hadn’t played with the band since 1979. Putting the cherry on top of this feminist punk sundae, Bikini Kill then joined the Raincoats on stage to sing “Fairytale in the Supermarket.”
Pelly’s book, part of the 33 1/3 series published by Bloomsbury, is the first on the Raincoats. Using rare archival material like zines and tour diaries, and interviews with bandmates and musicians from Bikini Kill, Slater-Kinney and Gang of Four, Pelly explores the circumstances that produced one of the most influential albums of feminist punk. Born from a London squatter’s basement rehearsal space, the Raincoats’ self-titled debut was released by Rough Trade in 1979. Its eclectic mix of sounds and anti-machismo lyrics opened the door for a new generation of female musicians, and was an integral precursor to the Riot Grrrl movement.
A three-night celebration of the book was hosted at The Kitchen, the historic non-profit performance space where the Raincoats recorded their live album The Kitchen Tapes in 1982. The first two nights featured a Q&A between the band and Pelly, along with screenings of Gina Birch and Ana da Silva’s student films, readings from Rob Sheffield and Pelly, and a short film by Angel Olsen, who recently performed with the Raincoats in London for a Rough Trade 40th Anniversary show. The final night of the event was added as a benefit for The Kitchen. Limited edition posters created by Ana da Silva and Gina Birch are still available for purchase.
Though there’s no news of Bikini Kill reuniting, last year’s Le Tigre reunion has got fans hoping to see the band back on stage together before another 20 years goes by.