I went to RookieFest this past weekend. I heard about some of their events in the past in LA, but avoided going to them because I am not in their demographic. Their audience is teenage girls and I’m in my 20’s.
I still think that Rookie Mag is a great idea and would have loved to have a website like that to read as a teenager. As always, there are things that I am critical of the site, but overall, its intent is good.
A day before the event, Urban Outfitters posted a picture on their Twitter hinting at the special musical guest of RookieFest. It was a picture of Kathleen Hanna (of Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and The Julie Ruin). Kathleen Hanna has not played in LA for (I believe) over 5 years. She had a huge influence on the Riot Grrrl movement and is an important feminist figure in popular music. For these reasons, I felt it was necessary to see The Julie Ruin perform live.
I tried to RSVP for the event, but it had already reached capacity. I figured I’d show up in person and see what would happen (not all the RSVP’s would show up, right?).
I showed up and waited in line, hoping for a chance to get in. Finally after all the RSVP’s were let in, a woman came out to tell us that they had reached capacity. Half the line left at that moment and the rest of us couldn’t believe what we were hearing. Not everyone on the RSVP list showed up and there was no way they were at capacity. So we waited. For like an hour, hopeful that whoever was running the event would have a change of heart.
She came out again saying that they would let in the rest of us in an hour just before the band was scheduled to start. Perfect! I was there to see the band anyway. [Meanwhile, I missed out on live conversations with Rashida Jones and Bill Hader. It was a bummer, but oh well, at least I was getting in.]
When the rest of us were let in, they had just brought out food (bonus!) and were playing tunes ranging from current pop music to pop music from the ’60s. It was great to see that there were so many girls in attendance and they were all decked out in their best looks. It’s weird to see that there’s this resurgence among teens with looks from the ’90s. Girls were wearing jellies, mary janes, and floral print dresses. One girl was talking about how she had an Etsy shop designated specifically for hand-made Steve Buscemi jewelry. Most girls attended with their friends, sisters, or other female relative, and there were a handful of men in attendance. It was great to see a space specifically designated for girls (by girls).
The Julie Ruin were much better than I had anticipated. Unfortunately, I had low expectations based on their first single, “Oh Come On”. I was pretty impressed. Most of the songs were danceable, but had a definite punk feel. It was great to see two of the members of Bikini Kill performing music again, for a crowd full of girls. Kathleen Hanna announced a one point in the show that this was The Julie Ruin’s first full show (they’ve played 2 before but they were quick sets). Another surprise!
One of the biggest highlights was hearing what Kathleen Hanna had to say in between each song. Before one of the songs, she said, “This song is about talking like a valley girl and not being taken seriously”. She then thought about it and realized none of the women in the band were technically valley girls, although Kenny Mellman shouted that he was from Northridge (CA), to which 3 of us in the crowd applauded. The band agreed that they felt playing RookieFest was like playing at the best slumber party ever. Totally.