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Babes in Toyland perform at Rock the Garden 2015

  Play Now [1:05:07]

by Babes in Toyland

July 01, 2015

Babes in Toyland
Babes in Toyland performing live at Rock the Garden 2015
MPR / Nate Ryan

Triumphant. Empowering. Ravenous. Earthshaking. Body quaking. Bold. Blazing. Life-changing.

Those are just a few of the words that could be used to describe Babes in Toyland's homecoming set at Rock the Garden, which was their first time performing in Minneapolis since 2001. The powerful trio — which included founding members Kat Bjelland and Lori Barbero, and their late-career, longtime touring bassist Maureen Herman — rattled the Sculpture Garden with their righteous riffs and Barbero's punishing drumming, earning huge cheers of appreciation between every song.

Just to throw us off their trail a bit, the band got off to a somewhat shaky start, with Bjelland stopping between songs to wipe the sweat off her guitar and asking the band to restart "Swamp Pussy." Even in their looser moments they were riveting, however, and it added an extra element of danger to their already foreboding sound. Once they locked in and found a groove with one another, they were unstoppable. Bjelland led the charge with her unparalleled screams and wild-eyed stares, Barbero powered them forward sporting a positively elated grin, and Herman hung back, swaying steadily and keeping her cool.

What really got me, though, was watching Bjelland's son, Henry, air-guitar through every single riff and mouth along with every word, and the row of young women pressed to the barricade and screaming along like it was their last night on earth. It's impossible for me to talk about Babes in Toyland without marveling at just how much energy they harness and how they show other people that it's possible to create and channel that much power; the word "empowering" gets thrown around a lot with female artists, especially those who came up around the time of riot grrrl, but for Babes in Toyland they prove to young men and women that their voices matter and that their feelings deserve to be validated, no matter how scary they might be.

So forgive me for straying off course a bit and wiping a few tears from my eyes as I try to move forward after Babes' set tonight. They tore the garden apart. It was all I could do to stand there and cheer at the top of my lungs as they put down their instruments in a daze, took a photo of their adoring hometown crowd, and happily skipped off stage.


"Bruise Violet"
"Right Now"
"Swamp Pussy"
"Won't Tell"
"Spit to See the Shine"
"He's My Thing"
"Drivin'" (Lori Barbero on vocals)
"Oh Yeah"
"Handsome and Gretel"
"Vomit Heart"
"Sweet '69"
"Dust Cake Boy"

Written by Andrea Swensson
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Corey Schreppel

More Rock the Garden 2015 coverage »

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