Day #68 – Pennyhawk “Timid Women”
There’s long been debate about whether punk is alive or dead. There’s probably no doubt that the deeply revered tenet about doing it yourself (DIY… duh!) is still alive and well, even if the music changed. It has to be. The alienated and the outcasts don’t track well in market predictions, so major promoters don’t know what to do with them (I am sure AR types who work on gut feelings about a band’s potential success is a thing of the past).
I thought about what Mona Baez and others in Ramona and the Swimsuits were like in high school as I watched them take the stage last week at Golden West.
The band came together because, as Mona said, “Leslie wrote a bunch of songs and needed a band to perform them.” (Their Make a Splash album can be heard in full on Bandcamp, as can Pennyhawk’s Sisterbones, from which today’s song comes from). They perform these light-hearted sing-a-long-y songs. Even the lone cynical tune about avoiding adulthood is like that. Lead singer, Mona is skinny and strange looking and even acknowledged her shaky voice. I don’t know where that would have put her on the social scale of an Ames high school (my only sense of Iowa is completely informed by Napoleon Dynamite), but in my high school, that would have set you up for constant ridicule. But, if it was like that for Mona, you wouldn’t know it from watching her, or any of the other probable outcasts performing that night. She was confident performing at center stage in a swimsuit with a tutu and mom glasses and high heels, and dancing around while singing about snack attacks and how cable television can greatly improve your relationship.
But, why not? After all, she was performing to a crowd of fellow outcasts and oddballs who cheered and laughed (seriously, it was the most hilarious thing) right along with all the adorable nonsense. That she may look or sound strange didn’t faze us because we’re the weirdos, too.
I can’t figure out how old the members of Ramona and the Swimsuits are, although Mona mentioneda that the song “Oh That’s Racy” relates to having moved back in with her mom after college and this being about crazy things women do (Snack Attack!!). But, it’s perpetually childish — and of course, they’re well aware of this, which is why the track, Grownups, a song about not wanting to be a responsibility-riddled adult, is so funny. When your are on tour for several weeks to do what Ramona and the Swimsuits do, you are still a safe distance from the life-sucking obligations of real adulthood.
I think I really loved Ramona and the Swimsuits because they are exactly the kind of thing my wacky friends in high school (Tonia Poobczyx!) would have come up with. That kind of concept, though never to such a theatrical degree, nor to perform it live. I’ve been listening to Make a Splash ad nausea the last few days.
I leave you with some pictures from the show. It’s all downhill from here.
Touring vessel paid for with Yo Gabba Gabba money.
More magical than a unicorn.
Pennyhawk’s Kate Kennedy, multi-tasking.
Ramona and the Swimsuits doing a cover of The Exciters “He’s Got the Power.”
Leslie… and Leslie… ?? What is going on here?!!
Neon creating sensory overload.
Let me borrow those shoes!
Christening the Chosen One’s Gem Sweater!
He sat at a table the whole time. I thought his boots were the table legs.
Y’all come back now, ya hear?