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Bikini Kill reunites, reroutes and (finally) returns to the Riverside

Three women perform on a stage surrounded by thin, hazy smoke, with one singing into a handheld microphone as two other play guitar and drums, respectively, behind her.
Debi Del Grande
Pabst Theater Group

Milwaukee’s concert scene has a lot going on, so we look at the shows coming up to find the ones you’ll look back on and be glad you went. Then we add them to our weekly Milwaukee Concert Picks.

The iconic riot grrrl movement exploded in the early ’90s, and female-identifying musicians — to this day — are carried by its influence. One of the most influential bands of that original era? Undoubtedly, Bikini Kill.

The Olympia, Wash.-based band led the way with their fearless and unapologetic approach to music, art and beyond, encouraging other riot grrrls and feminists to seek out and create scenes of their own. Disbanding in 1997, Bikini Kill left not only a movement in their wake, but a legacy that could sustain and inspire generations to come.

Reunited with the original lineup of Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail and Kathi Wilcox (joined by guitarist Sara Landeau), Bikini Kill will stop in Milwaukee at the Riverside Theater on Wednesday night as part of their recently expanded 2023 North American tour. A tour that, as many fans are well aware, required a healthy dose of persistence.

The Pabst Theater Group first announced the show in November 2019, with a scheduled show date of May 24, 2020, at the Riverside. Then came a pandemic-related postponement that pushed it to July 24, 2022, again at the Riverside. THEN an illness in the band pushed it once again to today, albeit at the Miller High Life Theatre because of a booking at the Riverside — a booking that fell through, moving the show BACK to the Riverside.

Whew. As PTG marketing and PR director Sara Peronto shared with us, “Out of all of our shows that were postponed and rescheduled due to the pandemic, this is the last show to happen. And given that this is a limited-date reunion tour run for the band, we're expecting the energy to be electric. Fans have been waiting over 1,000 days to see this show.”

Also, not to be missed? Record Store Day this Saturday. Anyone who calls themselves a music fan knows the best way to support their favorite artists is by ponying up for physical merch — hard-copy records, CDs and tapes. You’ll find plenty of those at your favorite local record store, and in the process support a hard-working local business, usually run by very passionate music people.

This Saturday, seek out stores that also have entertainment built into the day to add to the fun. Record Store Day at Lilliput Records will feature music from Doubter, Heather The Jerk and William Seidel; while Acme Records will feature DJs Katie Rose, Armando Velazquez, Sahan Jayasuriya, Stephen Strupp and Eric Mildew, as well as a live performance from Nathaniel Heuer (Hello Death, Group of the Altos), who will play songs from The Blight Record Project.

The good thing about these two stores? There are additional record shops mere blocks away you can hop on over to. Happy Record Store Day 2023, Milwaukee.

More shows worth a go

88Nine Music Director / On-Air Talent | Radio Milwaukee