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Grrls of the Rock: Rising bands of ERHS

Photos by Mathilda Barr

It’s Wednesday, September 4th, and the back room of high school senior Ohad Gilbert’s house is transformed into a temporary studio. The strong, defining notes of the bass ring out, juxtaposed against Ohad’s lighter guitar chords and melodic voice, as Eagle Rock High School senior Lauren Arriola jumps around in excitement as the song reaches the peak of it’s groove. These two fierce and inventive musicians on the brink of adulthood make up the band Wire Fingers, proving that the rising new faces of punk and rock music are nestled exactly where you least expect it. Daily, you can find senior Lauren and seventh grader Lucia de la Garza traversing the familiar hallways of Eagle Rock High School and balancing the demands of middle and high school with their worlds of music.

Wire Fingers, with Lauren on her bass decked out with intergalactic stickers of aliens and rocketships, and South Pasadena High School senior Ohad Gilbert on guitar and vocals is a medley of both Lauren and Ohad’s unique music tastes, inspired by both LA local bands like Kuromi, and world sensations like the White Stripes. It’s a mix best described by Ohad as an imaginative blending of music into “stories that I took from my perspective and distorted.” As for Lucia and the Linda Lindas, these talented young ladies balance the demands of middle school with rocking out and opening for legends such as Bikini Kill and Alice Bag. The Linda Lindas display their talent and love for music through crowd-shaking punk covers, each member switching between guitar, bass, drums and vocals with a comfortable ease reflected in the confidence and energy of their music.

In communities like Eagle Rock, where our neighborhood is so influenced by our school and family culture, Wire Fingers and the Linda Lindas forge their creative spirit into a lasting impression on the world around them. Describing the process of developing new music, Ohad says, “ “music making for me directly ties back into an amplified version of what I’m feeling.” Wire Fingers, like the Linda Lindas sees the value in using their voice to spark change in their communities, and as Lauren describes the music scene, “It’s a whole other subculture of people your age. And then you find the real people, and the people who want to make a change and whether the change is just involvement through going to shows, or the change is making the music, its making a change in someway, man. It’s starting a revolution, you gotta do it.”

The Linda Lindas also have harnessed the power of their voices and audience, covering songs such as the Ramones “The KKK took my baby away” in response to the recent family separations occurring at the border. In a modern world where the voices of young adults are finally starting to be fully heard, any chance to speak-or sing- the words of change is an opportunity that these fresh faces of music are ready and eager to take.

The Linda Lindas are a powerful force of girls on the cusp of young adulthood, made up of Eagle Rock student Lucia de la Garza, her sister Mila de la Garza, their cousin Eloise Wong, and close friend Bela Salazar. What sets these girls apart besides their determined energy and confident stage presence? None of them are older than 14 years old. Despite their age, the Linda Lindas have played on the stage at the Hi Hat, Viva Pomona festival, and the Hollywood Palladium, spreading their energy wherever they go, with covers of iconic punk songs such as The Ramones’ “KKK”, The Runaways “Cherrybomb” as well as several songs in Japanese and Spanish. What messages do the Linda Lindas want to leave with the world? Lucia’s response perfectly sums it up. “That in the future people will realize that they can do whatever at whatever age it doesn’t matter. If they want to do it, just go for it.”

In a world where punk is too often defined by limiting, male-centered stereotypes, it’s strong women like Lucia and Lauren that help tear down those barriers, piece by piece. Drawing inspiration from fierce, self-defined female figures of the music scene like Kim Deal of the Pixies, Chrissy Hynde, and Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill, Wire Fingers and the Linda Lindas are showing the world a new side of music and culture, one that is ruled by the power of high school students and young women. “When people hear punk they don’t usually think of kid girl bands. We don’t want to be a band that’s ‘cute’,” Lucia says of the Linda Lindas. With young women like Lucia and Lauren at Eagle Rock, stepping beyond the superficial stereotype of “cute," our community becomes rich with change-makers, confident individuals, who are not afraid to speak up for themselves and others. As Lauren best says it, “Punk is standing up for what you believe in. Punk is not being afraid to be who you are; it's individualism at its core, but at the same point, it’s individualism with representation. That's the whole purpose of the punk scene.”

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