Sound Advice: Babes in Toyland with FEA

Tuesday • Madison Live

click to enlarge Babes in Toyland
Babes in Toyland

Kat Bjelland’s banshee voice, primal guitar playing and uncommonly intense presence infected anyone who was lucky enough to catch Babes in Toyland’s searing live shows in the early 1990s. Even impersonal setups like Lollapalooza — Babes shared the 1993 main-stage bill with the likes of Dinosaur Jr., Alice in Chains, Fishbone, Tool and Rage Against the Machine — couldn’t diminish the Minneapolis trio’s visceral impact.

Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna was an early champion of the band, which in ’93 included Maureen Herman on bass and Lori Barbero on drums.

“In the ’90s, Babes in Toyland was a band that was hugely important to us, and we were like, ‘God, if only we could play awesome shows like Babes in Toyland,’ ” Hanna said in a 2010 interview with AfterEllen.com. “And now, you know, I meet girls who have no idea who they are.”

That could change now that the trio has reunited with the help of an online campaign Kickstarted by a pair of fans who made their fortunes as early Google employees. Babes in Toyland released three full-length albums — 1990’s Spanking Machine, 1992’s Fontanelle and 1995’s Nemesisters — none of which properly captured the power and fury of the group’s live shows. Writing and recording new material is a possibility, but, for now, Bjelland says the band has reunited to focus on what they do best.

“One of the reasons that I wanted to do it was somebody showed me on the Internet — and I don’t go on it very often — and I guess we had a whole new generation of fans,” Bjelland told The Guardian earlier this year. “I felt obligated to (get the band back together), so that they could see us live.”

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