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Babes in Toyland

 
Minneapolis has been a hotbed of alternative rock for two decades, but for sheer, abrasive energy, few groups can compare to the trio of young women known as Babes in Toyland, whose punk onslaught has spawned admirers and imitators around the world. One of the pioneering groups of the "riot grrrl" movement (Courtney Love started out in an early version of the band), Babes was founded by guitarist/singer/songwriter Kat Bjeland, who had moved out to the Twin Cities from the Pacific Northwest, and drummer Lori Barbero.
       Barbero took up drums at Bjeland's urging and is entirely self-taught, and she provides the group's rhythmic heart, an incredible mass of flailing arms and legs that propels the band with irresistable energy and roots it in deep rhythms that she likes to describe as "tribal." Bjeland, meanwhile, grinds out sheets of wailing guitar noise, over which she sings in a voice that ranges from a pained, ominous whisper to a banshee howl. Maureen Herman, who has since left the group, was the bassist at the time of filming, and her solid sound held the middle together.
       After some ten years, Babes in Toyland is still among the most uncompromising and dynamic of the riot grrrl bands. Loud, discordant and rebellious, but also generating a warmth that keeps the fans coming back year after year, it has enjoyed international success and several major-label albums, but remains firmly rooted in its native soil.

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