Today's Top 5 Female Punk Rockers


There have been punk-rock chicks as long as there has been punk rock. Unfortunately, punk can also all too often be a boys' club. Consider that emo, an entire genre based around angsty young men bemoaning their troubles with women, spawned from punk. Then take a gander at the genre's biggest icons: From Johnny Rotten to Henry Rollins, it's mostly all men.

But does that mean women can't be as punk or hardcore as men? Of course not. Even back in the '80s, there was Kira Roessler jamming on bass alongside Black Flag. In the '90s, there was an entire movement of largely female punk-rock bands: Riot grrrl.

Screaming Females' Melissa Paternoster wailed at House of Blues in October.
Marc Brubaker
Screaming Females' Melissa Paternoster wailed at House of Blues in October.
Eddie Vedder's Jones Hall set was heavy on material from the Into the Wild soundtrack.
Eddie Vedder's Jones Hall set was heavy on material from the Into the Wild soundtrack.

And while riot grrrl has mostly petered out since then, that doesn't mean there aren't many badass punk rocker girls dominating the scene today. These are just a few of the best.

5. The Coathangers: The Coathangers learned how to play their instruments by playing them in front of audiences. This trial-by-fire approach to starting out led them to not only frequently trade out instruments, as each of them had as much skill with each instrument as anyone else in the band, but led them to craft some of the most interesting, craziest punk rock going on right now.

4. Teri Gender Bender, Le Butcherettes: Le Butcherettes are a punk band out of Mexico that has quickly been rising to prominence since signing to Sargent House Records. Front woman Teri Gender Bender is known for her absolutely bonkers stage presence, where she typically wears a blood-stained dress.

3. Vivian Girls: Vivian Girls are an all-female garage-rock revival band. Their sound is lo-fi and noisy, but their best feature is their songwriting. They slowly built upon their talents on their first two records, a self-titled debut and Everything Goes Wrong, but it's everything comes together for them on their most recent album Share the Joy. With their songwriting, they are becoming the heiresses to the throne vacated by Sleater-Kinney.

2. Wild Flag: Speaking of Sleater-Kinney, Wild Flag is the latest band from Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, two-thirds of that band's line-up. Together with Mary Timony from Helium and Rebecca Cole from the Minders, they've gone back to their punk roots and stripped down any excess. Even better, they prove that front woman Carrie Brownstein may be funny on TV's Portlandia, but she can still absolutely rock when she feels like it. They're also just pure fun.

1. Marissa Paternoster, Screaming Females: Screaming Females have been slowly building a fanbase for several years now. They've already got a devoted cult following and have recently been getting even more attention from a tour with Garbage and an album produced by Steve Albini. Front woman Marissa Paternoster's screams and yells make up the band's vocals, and she is also a shredder guitarist from hell.

Live Shots

November 12: Eddie Vedder at Jones Hall

Aging grungers are the new aging hippies. When the first wave of grunge hit in the late '80s and early '90s, the world was still rife with greybeards and their old ladies just two decades removed from cultural nirvana. Before the other, bigger Nirvana.

I remember being a tiny person in the midst of the Seattle explosion while also being exposed to the nostalgia of the free-love era. Never would I have thought that the two would have so much in common.

"You know what they say about the early '90s, man. If you remember them, you didn't have a debilitating drug addiction or an allergy to fame."

Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder is one of the rare survivors of the grunge era who is still standing and can still tell a tale without tremors. Yes, the g-word is less of a slur than it was 20 years ago, and thankfully Pearl Jam managed to rise above the trends and tread their own path, thanks to their own stubbornness, a punk ethos and the leading hand of Neil Young.

A lot of Monday night's gig reminded me of Young's solo show at the same venue in 2010, from the sparse instrumentation to the set design. You should have seen people attempting to capture the campfire and starlight onstage from the audience with their cellphones.

Vedder as a solo act, a storyteller, and a guitarist doesn't touch the level of elation that fans say they feel at a PJ show. Nothing comes close. But not that many Houston PJ fans would know what it is like to see them here anyway.

The singer himself joked about his infrequent visits to Houston while dropping wistful odes to the Vatican and the Unicorn, departed venues that the band played numerous times on the way to becoming all-caps Pearl Jam.

Pearl Jam is now a festival band, leaving behind the road-slogging to younger groups and acts out of their own grunge class that didn't quite make the same global or monetary connection they did.

Vedder's solo schtick is heavy on his Into The Wild soundtrack stuff and various PJ nuggets. If you find the ukulele annoying or too precious, you will not be enchanted with the novelty of Ved­der doing half his set cradling the baby gee-tar.

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