Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net
Credit: Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net

Babes in Toyland disbanded in 2001, and since then, each of the three members have endured some truly hard times. Perhaps these challenges played a role in the band announcing its reunion last summer; who knows?

What is known is this: Kat Bjelland, Lori Barbero and Maureen Herman selected Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace as the venue for their first show together in almost two decades—and Babes in Toyland is back with a vengeance.

The sold-out crowd slowly trickled into Pappy’s throughout the evening. Los Angeles female duo Deap Vally—featuring guitarist/vocalist Lindsey Troy and drummer Julie Edwards—was the perfect opening act for Babes in Toyland: Deap Vally’s heavy rock riffs, power drumming and screeching vocals pleased the crowd. Troy took the time to say that she and Edwards were “fucking proud to be opening for Babes in Toyland.”

After a quick equipment-setup break, Babes in Toyland took the stage. Bjelland slowly paced around, playing some heavy riffs, as Herman and Barbero got in place. Bjelland—wearing a white dress—looked determined and ready to start, and when Barbero began the drum intro for “Jungle Train,” the crowd gave them a loud ovation.

Many punk-rock girls were present—some of whom were in kindergarten, and maybe even preschool, during the legacy era of the Babes. Many middle-aged men and women were also in the enthusiastic crowd. Celebrity attendees included Peaches, who came from New York with her manager and friend to see the show; and Nicole Fiorentino, the bassist for the Smashing Pumpkins, who attended with her partner, The Cold and Lovely frontwoman Meg Toohey.

The band’s sound was just as mighty as it was in the ’90s; Bjelland’s screeches, howls and stage presence were exceptional. Despite some technical issues—the kick-drum pedal and the bass drum would not stay in position (the sound engineer brought in a rock and placed it in the bass drum to fix it)—it was an awesome show that many attendees, some who came from far-away places, were enthralled to witness. At one point, Kat Bjellend appeared emotionally overwhelmed after meeting fans.

The group’s members have stated that their reunion will be ongoing, and they’re writing new material. This is fantastic news; Babes in Toyland was one of the bands who kicked open the door for women and proved they could rock just as hard as the boys, and the music world is better with them in it.

Setlist

  • Jungle Train
  • He’s My Thing
  • Bluebell
  • Oh Yeah
  • Spit to See the Shine
  • Bruise Violet
  • Right Now
  • Swamp Pussy
  • Won’t Tell
  • Drivin’
  • Ariel
  • Handsome and Gretel
  • Sweet ’69

Photos by Guillermo Prieto/IRockPhotos.net

Brian Blueskye

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Brian Blueskye moved to the Coachella Valley in 2005. He was the assistant editor and staff writer for the Coachella Valley Independent from 2013 to 2019. He is currently the...