The New Face of Punk: The Regrettes
by Erin Christie
I was first introduced to The Regrettes sometime last year upon hearing that they would be touring with one of my favorite bands, SWMRS. After experiencing their charismatic charm accompanied by riot grrrl-esque lyrics and blaring guitar, I was immediately hooked.
This past Tuesday, Cambridge’s Sonia was packed to the brim to see the Los Angeles quartet in action on Alt Nation’s Advanced Placement Tour with Micky James and The Welles.
The Regrettes is Lydia Night (vocals and guitar), Genessa Gariano (guitar), Brooke Dickson (bass), and Drew Thomsen (drums). Their debut record, Feel Your Feelings Fool!, kick-started their stint on the scene in early 2017 and following, they have continued to redefine what “punk” means ever since.
Since their debut (when Night was a mere 15-years-old!) The Regrettes have been noted for their unapologetically outspoken nature and daringness to be bold. In other words, they seem not to give a fuck about negative criticism. Women in the music industry are constantly pushed down and shoved onto the back burner simply because of their gender—as if that somehow makes them lesser than their male counterparts— and the same can be said for younger artists as well. Being primarily comprised of women, and considering that each of the members being barely in their 20s, The Regrettes have clearly expressed this type of backlash isn’t something they’re okay with.
Young people are made to believe that their voices don’t matter, that they aren’t as worldly as their older competition and hence, that they don’t have enough credibility to be considered as equals. “We’re cast off as ignorant, arrogant, full of ourselves and plain old stupid. We’re told that we can’t change anything. Children are to be seen, not heard,” writes Isabel Song, then a freshman at UC Berkeley for HuffPost. Young people are often bashed for “not caring about world affairs” and for being selfish. This awful misconception fails to recognize that young people are the future, and since we will inherit responsibility for what happens to the world, of course, we care. And so do The Regrettes.
This year, The Regrettes has released their EP, Attention Seeker, and two singles, hinting at the upcoming release of their sophomore record.
“Poor Boy,” their most recent single, speaks directly to the monsters behind the mess of assault accusations and unearthing of abusers occurring throughout multiple industries and facets of the world It’s a reality that’s ultimately terrifying, but, as their song suggests, isn’t something that should be shoved under the rug. “Poor boy, what you gonna do?/ These girls are coming for you,” Night snarls, inspiring a riotous sway from the crowd, passionate with energy and complete infuriation, expressed by the band themselves and spread throughout the venue.
Regardless as to whether or not this was their intention, the band has stood out as a beacon of hope for the younger generation, encouraging them to not only stand up to whatever is tearing them down—whether that be societal expectations or pesky boys that just don’t know the meaning of the word “no”—but to also be unafraid to make waves.
The crowd on the night of the 4th was significantly comprised of young girls, and honestly, it was refreshing to see. During the opening number, a quick snippet of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” introduced the band and a chorus of young voices could be heard, singing along in gleeful fashion. Throughout the entire set, the energy in the air was palpable. As I stood on top of a stool at the bar to shoot the action, I could witness a sea of colliding bodies sprawled out in front of the band, many members of the sea before them grinning from ear to ear.
The punk scene, frankly, has a history of rampant misogyny, and that oftentimes draws girls to abandon their taste for it. Bands such as Bikini Kill, Against Me!, Bratmobile, Hole, Screaming Females, Childbirth, 7 Year Bitch, and so many more have quite literally paved the way for punk as a genre (beginning as early as the 70s). In spite of this, though, as LA punk veteran, Alice Bag, has pointed out, punk-- which started as an inclusive and diverse movement-- was quickly annexed by white dudes.
Alongside making girls believe that they don’t have the chops to contribute to such a “hardcore” genre, live, many girls cite not feeling safe or accepted at gigs. As Erica West of Athena Talks notes, “Fans of the genre know that it is heavily dominated by white men, and the literal spaces — venues, shows, festivals — can be unsafe for women.” Talks about molding concerts in general into a safer place for women and femme individuals have been buzzing about for years, and with acts like The Regrettes, encouraging such, the future looks bright. (In the long run, though, it comes down to men finally understanding that their god complexes are completely uncalled for and that they need to respect personal space!)
“There’s nothing better than a Tuesday night wall of death,” Night laughed as she and the band launched into another track. In the same vein, during “A Living Human Girl,” their bluntly realistic anthem depicting the reality that many girls face (including dealing with monthly periods, razor bumps, and unrealistic expectations), Night encouraged an all-girl pit
My heart soared at the sight of so many young girls, passionately singing along and jamming out to their heart’s content, directly defying the trend often exhibited as shows like this. (Note: even during The Welles’ set earlier in the night, there was a clear difference in atmosphere, then comprised of burly men swaying from side to side and sloshing their beers down the backs of the audience members in front of them). Knowing that girls can find a safe haven in The Regrettes’ gigs is an amazing gift.
As emulated by the band through their music and the way that they conduct themselves, being daring enough to let your mind be heard and to feel your feelings (fool) is the first step to sparking change. Being so close in age to many members of The Regrettes, it’s incredibly inspiring to see my peers making strides toward success in such massive ways. Aside from creating content that is to die for, the band utilizes their platform in a manner that is truly admirable, and they are absolutely worthy of recognition for that.