Girlschool 2010 - Page 4

FALL ARTS: Fall is here, and women are ruling the Bay Area rock scene

Grass Widow dodges rock conventions while making the leap to Kill Rock Stars

What do Canadian tuxes, temporary tats, TLC, and touring by pickup truck have in common? They're all pleasures, guilty or not, for the Splinters. The soon-to-be-bicoastal Bay Area all-girl combo is all about fun and friendship, gauging the laughter levels as guitarist Caroline Partamian and vocalist-tambourine player Lauren Stern sip PBRs by the hideaway fireplace in the back of Oakland's Avenue Bar. Some other choice subjects: seedy green rooms, messy Texas shows, honey-dripping Southern accents, and bandmates that make their own thongs.

"Sometimes being girls has gotten us out of trouble," says Stern, chuckling. Like that time at an Austin house party when the Splinters got grossed out by the bathroom and decided to go pee next to their truck instead. "We had baby wipes," Partamian explains. "And we had the truck doors open."

"So we're all squatting in a row, and this guy walks out with his dog and his friend," continues Stern, "and he's like, 'You guys are peeing in front of our house!'" Girlish oohing and aahing over his pooch saved the day, and the aggrieved dog walker ended up replacing the truck's brake pads at a drastic discount.

Likewise, positivity and camaraderie infuse the Splinters' all-fun debut, Kick (Double Negative), though "Sea Salt Skin" injects melancholy into the garage-rocking shenanigans and "Oranges" levels its gaze at girl-on-girl violence with a withering Black Sabbath-style riff. "Cool" and "Dark Shades" flip the dance-party ethos on its side, playfully critiquing the hip crowd like wiseacre modern-day Shangri-Las. No surprise, then, that these women were friends and fellow students at UC Berkeley before they started playing together in late 2007, inspired by Partamian's four-track birthday gift. The first show was an Obama house-party fundraiser. "It was $5 for a 40 and a corn dog," Stern remembers.

The ensemble has turned out to be much more than an end-of-school lark. A New York City move is next for Stern and Partamian — the latter will be starting the museum studies graduate program at NYU. But the Splinters will stay together, in part for four female superfans who sing along to all the Splinters' songs, and for a Bristol, U.K. father and son who have bonded over their affection for the group.

"I don't know, we just love playing music together," says Partamian.

"It's so much fun," Stern adds. "Almost in an addictive way."



Whether you see the term as sweet talk or a slam, the Twinks' name couldn't be more appropriate. After all, as drummer Erica Eller says with a laugh, "We're cute and we like boys!"

True to form, they're young — the foursome's first show took place last month — and fun. The Twinks are all-girl, rather than a band of adorable and hairless young gay men. Their sugar-sweet, hip-shaking rockin' pop unabashedly finds inspiration in the first wave of girl groups — vessels of femininity and Tin Pan Alley aspiration such as the Crystals, the Shirelles, the Dixie Cups, and the Shangri-Las. But in the Twinks' case, girls, not the producers, are calling the shots. Tunes like "Let's Go" and "There He Was" are tracked by the group on a portable recorder and overdubbed with Garage Band. It's a rough but effective setup, capturing keyboardist and primary songwriter Kelly Gabaldon, guitarist Melissa Wolfe, and bassist Rita Sapunor as they take turns on lead vocals and harmonize with abandon.

The band came to life amid an explosion of creativity, when Gabaldon, who also plays in the all-girl Glassines with Eller, wrote a slew of songs last winter. "All of a sudden I had a burst of inspiration," Gabaldon marvels. "I'd email them a new song every day." The numbers seemed less suited to the "moodier, singer-songwriter" Glassines, so Gabaldon got her friend Wolfe and finally Sapunor into the act.


C'mon....we've been waiting..what..thirty years for a real chick band that can actually play--er..invoke--real music. Not just some whiny garage band thrash pumping, And we're still waiting. Period.

Posted by Guest Nick Stuart on Aug. 25, 2010 @ 1:06 am

I am absolutely in awe of your ignorance, Nick.

Posted by Mike on Aug. 25, 2010 @ 10:48 am

Which I thought this article was going to be about.

The Headcoatees were good too.

But as 95% of bands suck, it's not a chick thing in that there is so much sucking in general.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 25, 2010 @ 11:00 am

"People are automatically, 'They're hot! Omigod, that one is hot!'"

Really? Ahem...

Anyway, if these bands are the best the Bay Area has to offer, no wonder the current music scene is at best a joke, and at worst non-existent to anyone outside of the Bay. Wow, guitar, drums, bass and singing- but wait- they're girls! OMG, how unique!

You know, there is a ton of music that isn't centered around the same old rock instrumentation, song structures, and clichés but I guess The Guardian couldn't be bothered to do a bit of research on that. Instead they focused on the same old boring stuff, the same types of groups who will have no lasting impact on anything because they are imitating a form of music that was perfected about 25 years ago. But, OMG, they're girls! In costumes! How unique!

How about an article on Bay Area musicians who are actually trying to do something interesting with their music instead of marketing themselves and their gimmicky music and image?

Posted by David on Aug. 26, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

I'm very interested to know.

Keep in mind techno isn't music.

Another great band that happened to be women was Yellow Machine Gun.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 26, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

Barn Owl. Moon Duo. The Alps. Jonas Reinhardt. Other local artists on the Root Strata label. Check out the On Land Festival next weekend to see some of them. Or just stroll through Aquarius Records and ask for recommendations if you are really serious and don't have some built-in excuse not to consider them as "real" since they don't package their music into the verse/chorus/verse format.

Posted by David on Aug. 27, 2010 @ 10:42 am

extensively, David. Also, maybe you should actually listen to some of the bands Kim is writing about above, like Grass Widow, who go far beyond the lame stereotype of rock you say we're aping. And what's wrong with writing an article about the fact that there are a lot of female garage rock bands coming to prominence at the moment, anyway? You seem to want to read an article about bands you like. Obviously, this isn't that article. This is this article.

PS lol at "perfected 25 years ago" in your earlier comment -- what, do you mean like Bryan Adams and Huey Lewis & the News?

Posted by marke on Aug. 30, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

And how ignorant can you be?

Next you'll be telling us that the Kronos Quartet are "un-listenable"?

1960 called, it wants you to criticize "Jazz"

Posted by Frank McGee on Aug. 31, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

smart drugs lost popularity, and the water & air bars closed up.

Too bad techno didn't die an equally 90's death.

Posted by matlock on Sep. 01, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

that's when your aesthetic sensibility and adventurous aural spirit did as well.

Posted by marke on Sep. 01, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

I love the Twinks and you guys suck a$$.

Posted by Guest Carebear on Aug. 31, 2010 @ 7:37 am


Posted by Guest Beth Loudmouth on Aug. 31, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

your only good band

Posted by loudmouth? on Sep. 01, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

Given: the author likes her music and the specific bands she has on her IPOD, but GIRL don't go steppin' on the ladies toes that don't have a place on your IPOD. You caused a riff which I am sure you can relish in and slap on a hotdog and be like fuck yeah; or you'll be having a light bulb moment and redo the article. Alot of people have never heard of any of those bands you featured in your article seems like the title was not the right fit.. Cinderella moment. Yes eveyone, Kim had one.

Here's a thought why don't you redo the article and really break it down by genre. Dude you gotta get out more and go to more shows with girls in bands if you wanna do a girlschool article. And just because some bands practice in an old wannbe gentrified meat locker don't make them about burgers n' shakes.. I wanna job writing BS in the Guardian

Posted by Guest Scarlet on Sep. 01, 2010 @ 10:37 am

Where are my girls The Hot Toddies at?! They've been rocking SF with their original fun, all female indie garage pop since 2006... pretty similar to the bands you're describing. Seems to me like u left out the band that started the trend...


Posted by Guest on Sep. 14, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

Yeah, I agree with Robyn! The Hot Toddies were one of the only bands around doing an all-female garage indie pop band when they started around 5 years ago, and now it's kind of a thing and they get no mention? C'mon!

Posted by Ryan on Sep. 14, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

I love the Twinks! How could you not love surf-y garage pop?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 20, 2010 @ 10:22 am

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