Hello, Linda Lindas!

Mostly originally printed in Save Music in Chinatown: The Sixth Year Zine (November 2019). It leaves out the most important stuff, like how often they practice, hang out, and have fun together, and sticks mostly to shows but it’s worth putting out there as a record before it gets completely outdated!

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I wish I could say that Save Music in Chinatown shows spawned The Linda Lindas, but Bela, Eloise, Lucia, and Mila were brought together by fate.

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Pre-Linda LIndas at Girlschool LA at The Bootleg (February 2, 2018)

Out of nowhere, an acquaintance reached out to me asking if Eloise would be interested in taking part in a project. Kristin Kontrol, who I knew through her old band, Dum Dum Girls, had been invited to take part in a music festival called Girlschool L.A. After initially declining because she was in between projects, Kristin decided it might be interesting to get a group of kids to play. Kristin had seen pictures and video of Eloise singing at Save Music in Chinatown (“Bloodstains” with the Neptunas? “Paranoid” with Tabitha?) and thought of her.

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Pre-Linda LIndas with Karen O. at Girlschool LA at The Bootleg (February 2, 2018)

It was a crazy idea, especially since there were only a few weeks to prepare and the children would have no musical experience, but Wendy and I said sure. Then I suggested Kristin enlist Eloise’s cousins Lucia and Mila, since the three of them have been singing, dancing, and putting on shows together since they were toddlers. And if it worked out, they might get access to my sister Angelyn and brother-in-law Carlos’s backyard studio and gear for the project, too. Not only did that happen, but Carlos wound up being the second coach on the project.

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The Linda Lindas at Ed Lin book reading and signing at Vromans in Pasadena (October 9, 2018)

The first practice with the cousins and a bunch of other kids culled together via social media was cute but rough. Thinking that they needed a ringer who could actually play an instrument, Angelyn and Wendy reached out to see if our friends’ daughter, Bela, who was taking guitar lessons, might be available. She was.

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The Linda Lindas at Save Music in Chinatown 16 at the Grand Star (November 3, 2018)

After a handful of lessons, a lot of practice, and much pizza, Kristen + The Kids were was a big hit at Girlschool L.A., playing stripped-down covers of Cat Power, Dum Dum Girls, Mazzy Star, Best Coast (with Bethany and Bobb), and Yeah Yeah Yeahs (with Karen O.). It was a one-off project with no plans to follow up, but connections were made and seeds were planted.

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The Linda Lindas with Chip Kinman from the Dils at Save Music in Chinatown 17 at the Grand Star (January 27, 2019)

A few months later, Bela was invited by her friends in Frieda’s Roses to open a show for them at The Hi-Hat. Bela invited Lucia, Mila, and Eloise to be her band and they went on to play their first show together. They didn’t have a name yet, and were billed as Bela and Friends. Bethany and Bobb from Best Coast were in attendance, as well as Jen from Bleached, establishing them as hardcore supporters from day one.

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The Linda Lindas with Money Mark and Justin Maurer at Jackie Rocks! at the American Legion Eagle Rock (February 23, 2019)

By now, I was dying to have the girls play a Save Music in Chinatown show, and because our sixteenth show was going to be celebrating my fiftieth birthday they couldn’t say no.

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The Linda Lindas opening for Bikini Kill at the Hollywood Palladium (April 26, 2019)

They also needed a name. The girls came up with some pretty interesting and funny ideas for names, but eventually I brought a screener DVD from my days as a magazine editor who wrote about Asian cinema. Nobuhiro Yamashita’s 2005 movie Linda Linda Linda is about Japanese high school girls who learn a punk song by The Blue Hearts, “Linda Linda,” for a talent show. The understated and gorgeous art movie stars Japanese indie musicians as well as the very cool Korean actress Bae Doona. I though The Linda Lindas sounded like a band from the ’50s but could also refer to the Japanese punk song or art movie, or simply mean “really pretty” in Spanish. The girls agreed and The Linda Lindas were christened.

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The Linda Lindas opening for Bleached at the Moroccan Lounge (July 11, 2019)

I don’t recall exactly how it happened, but my friend Ed Lin saw a flyer and asked if The Linda Lindas would play some songs at his book release event in Pasadena. He wouldn’t take no for an answer, that turned out to be their first public show and a warmup before their first Chinatown show.

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The Linda Lindas at Hurley Studios (August 1, 2019)

Alice Bag, Chip Kinman, and Phranc were among the fans at The Linda Lindas at their first show at Save Music in Chinatown (Phranc, Ford Madox Ford, LP3 & The Tragedy, The Horseheads). It was electric!

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The Linda Lindas opening for Alice Bag at the Hi Hat (August 10, 2019)

How could they not make a surprise appearance at the next show with the all-Dangerhouse lineup of The Dils (first show in 40 years), Alley Cats, Neko Neko, and Rhino 39?

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The Linda Lindas at Viva! Pomona at the Glass House (August 24, 2019)

The next show was a benefit for Jackie Goldberg with Money Mark and Best Coast. Mark played bass and our friend Justin Maurer provided ASL translation on The Linda Lindas’ cover of Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl.”

 

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The Linda Lindas at Save Music in Chinatown 19 (November 3, 2019)

Kathleen Hanna tweeted the video and it has 57,000+ views to date. Then she invited the band to open for Bikini Kill at the Palladium. Unbelievable.

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The Linda LIndas at Self Help Graphics’ Dia De Los Muertos Celebration (November 2, 2019)

They went on a roll, opening at Bleached’s record release show, playing a live session at the Hurley Recording Studio, and opening for Alice Bag with Midnite Snaxxx, before playing their first festival, Viva! Pomona. Pretty good for 9-to-15-year-old girls. And they started at 8 to 14!

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The Linda LIndas with Fur Dixon at Save Music in Chinatown 20 (January 26, 2020)

With so much action, I was little relieved that they were up for playing the first Save Music in Chinatown show of our seventh year, just a day after playing Self Help Graphics’ Dia De Los Muertos gig!

Except for a surprise appearance with Fur Dixon at Save Music in Chinatown 20, they haven’t played any shows in 2020 but have been keeping busy with projects that will turn up in time (keep an eye on SXSW and Netflix). And now several shows are lining up:

Friday, February 21 – Center for the Arts Eagle Rock
Sunday, April 19 – L.A. Times Festival of Books
Saturday, April 25 – Alex’s Bar, more info TBA
Sunday, May 3 – Save Music in Chinatown 21, lineup TBA

 

Follow The Linda Lindas at http://instagram.com/the_linda_lindas for the latest news, and see you at their shows!

Note: The zine with this article, including different typos and the Friends Files in their full printed glory, is available only at Save Music in Chinatown shows.

 

The Making of Meet The Linda Lindas

A couple of days after The Linda Lindas played the Hollywood Palladium, my phone rang. At the time, Erik Caruso and I were planning mural painting at my daughter’s school, Castelar, which was timed to go with a Save Music in Chinatown fund-raising concert as well as the upcoming art show and noise jam at Harry Wirtz Elementary in Paramount, where my friend is a fifth-grade teacher.

“I would love it if The Linda Lindas could play the art show,” said Erik. “But I know the girls are students, too, and will be at school. So I’m wondering, did you happen to shoot video at the Palladium?” He thought it would be cool for his students to learn about the band, who are aged 8, 11, 12, and 14.

Funny he should ask. Ever since the concert, Wendy and I had been obsessing over three videos from different angles, smartphone footage from a handful of sources, and a bootleg audio recording from our friend Nate. We figured that all the pieces would sit in a box and collect dust like vacation or wedding photos that never get turned into an album.

So we opened up our hard drive to Erik and his filmmaker friend Mike Panganiban. They also dropped in on the next Linda Lindas practice to shoot some extra footage and conduct a casual interview, and then got even more footage a few weeks later at the Save Music in Chinatown matinee–less than 24 hours before the piece was shown at Wirtz Elementary!

Wendy took Eloise to the screening and said that the students were captivated by the video, cheered when each song ended, and had a bunch of questions afterward. We parents thought that a bigger audience would enjoy it, too, and maybe even get inspired by the story of kids, sisters, cousins, and friends making noise, having fun, practicing a lot, and being heard. Mike kindly added credits and made some tweaks, and that was it.

Like the band itself, the video just sort of happened naturally and then turned out to be really cool. Thanks to Erik for envisioning it, our new friend Mike and his crew for all their work, Nate for the audio, Daniel Wu for the cameras, and everyone who shared their videos and supports the band! Catch The Linda Lindas on Thursday, July 11, at the Moroccan opening for Bleached and Saturday, August 10, at the Hi-Hat opening for Alice Bag!

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The Linda Lindas, forming (February 2018)

 

Linda Lindas to the front! By Wendy Lau

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The Linda Lindas with Kathleen Hanna at the Hollywood Palladium (April 26, 2019) Photo: Alice Baxley

I started this blog to have an outlet for writing and sharing after Giant Robot ran its course. But what my wife wrote about our daughter, her cousins, and their friend needs to be here too. By Wendy Lau:

After The Linda Lindas opened for Bikini Kill at The Palladium, I’ve thought a lot about… parenting. Martin and I have always believed Eloise is an exceptional and charismatic individual. But did I really believe she could do anything?

Last November, after The Linda Lindas’ first show at Save Music in Chinatown, Eloise’s music composition teacher Carl Protho said, “You better watch out. She’s going to play The Forum! The Greek! STAPLES Center!” I laughed and thanked him. He looked at me sternly and continued, “I’m not kidding. You better prepare yourself.” Right before he saw her perform at The Palladium last Friday, Carl texted, “Hold onto your heart!”

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The Linda Lindas opening for Bikini Kill at the Hollywood Palladium (April 26, 2019) Photo: Alice Baxley

The day after The Linda Lindas’ previous show in February, Eloise and I ran into our friend Gabie Strong. We told her that Bethany from Best Coast sent a video of their cover of “Rebel Girl” to Kathleen Hanna because once Eloise yelled “Girls to the front!” she started crying. “Maybe they’ll open for Bikini Kill at The Palladium” was Gabie’s reaction. Again, I laughed.

Next thing you know, Kathleen Hanna tweeted the video, which has surpassed 55K views. And we all thought, that’s cool but it’s just Twitter. Then she invited them to open for one of the much-anticipated Bikini Kill reunion shows. Gabie was prophetic! First, I was shocked. Then super giddy. And then scared.

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The Linda Lindas and Bikini Kill at the Hollywood Palladium (April 26, 2019) Photo: Alice Baxley

Us parents even confided our insecurities with Kathleen. Would people who paid good money to see Bikini Kill be disappointed to see a kid cover band open the show? But she was confident The Linda Lindas would make longtime fans feel like the struggle was all worth it and inspire teen girls to start their own bands. During their incredible set, so many people screamed, laughed, and even cried tears of joy. These little girls won over thousands of people waiting to see Bikini Kill! Kathleen was right.

I truly believe my kid can do anything. Moving forward, I will always protect her but never stand in her way. This post has been about Eloise because I’m her mommy, but I could write a whole essay on each of The Linda Lindas: Lucia, Mila, and Bela. These unbelievably awesome girls just showed us all they’ll rule the world.

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Wendy and Eloise backstage at the Hollywood Palladium (April 26, 2019) Photo: Jessie Cowan

Catch The Linda Lindas this summer!
– Sunday, June 2 at Save Music in Chinatown 18 with The Gears and Gitane Demone Quartet (All-ages matinee)
– Thursday, July 11 at Bleached’s record release show with DJ Bethany from Best Coast at the Moroccan (18+)