Babes In Toyland; Superscope, Planet, November 19, 1995

With three-piece popsters Superscope warming up the crowd I took a note of my surroundings – there were a hell of a lot of women here to see riot grrrls Babes in Toyland and they were all ready to mosh really hard.

Meanwhile, the large stage wasn’t helping Superscope any. Their usual close-knit stage antics, hair shaking and falling upon each other was lost a bit in the sheer size of the stage.

The volume also ate into their valuable pop guitar sound so they sounded more like a metal band than the fine songsmiths that they are.

Finishing with Cow, Superscope’s departure sent the hoards of Babes fans into the pit and, as usual, they cheered the odd roadie who was either setting up or dismantling equipment. Tour roadies must think they are really popular.

From the opening guitar crunch to the final feedback squeal, all eyes were turned up to the power trio from the other side of the world, Babes in Toyland.

Kat Bjelland, about as tall as three quarters of the seething crowd, had a huge guitar sound which smothered everything in a glorious grunge syrup, a biting rumble for every 2-3 minute song.

Singer/drummer Lori Barbero’s frontal, angry messages came through both her instruments – hitting the drums really hard and yelling just as strongly. Short punk songs are what the Babes do exceedingly well, whipping the crowd up and having them lapping at the barriers is another.

Through the very nature of their fast bursts of song, the Babes could do no wrong. They hardly needed to acknowledge the crowd to receive their adoration, instead just letting their music be the fuel of the fire.

This said, their cover of Sister Sledge’s We Are Family was pretty rank considering the breadth of their own original material to choose from. Following near-on twenty original, angry songs, We Are Family came across as very poncy and overstated.

Fans like Babes in Toyland for their messages and attitude. Loud and understated, lets hope the Babes don’t consider the flaccid pop-lyricism of We are Family to be the pinnacle of great songwriting. Their own stuff is brilliant.

Adam Connors