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Linda Lindas offer living-room performance for Pentaport

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The Linda Lindas perform at The Smell in Los Angeles last month. / Courtesy of Albert Licano
The Linda Lindas perform at The Smell in Los Angeles last month. / Courtesy of Albert Licano

By Jon Dunbar


When
Pentaport Rock Festival started in 2006, three of the four members of one of its most-anticipated bands for this year weren't even born yet.

The Linda Lindas won't be coming to Korea for this year's Pentaport, which is being held with a mix of live, in-person events and online streaming. The four-member punk band, whose members range in age from 11 to 17, taped a live performance in someone's living room for broadcast this Sunday.

"Hopefully we'll play there in person one day!" bassist-vocalist Eloise Wong, 13, told The Korea Times.

The Linda Lindas pose with their face masks off. / Courtesy of Albert Licano
The Linda Lindas pose with their face masks off. / Courtesy of Albert Licano


Despite pandemic restrictions, the all-girl band became an international sensation this year, especially after a
video went viral of their performance at Los Angeles Public Library in May for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.

Before the month was over, they were signed to Epitaph Records, which is about as big league as any punks can ever hope for. But Epitaph didn't take interest just because they went viral ― they were already in contract negotiations, and the response to the video performance only made Epitaph more eager to sign them.

"It makes us a lot busier with recording, videos, interviews, and other stuff," drummer Mila de la Garza, 11, said.

"But it's all fun stuff!" guitarist-vocalist Bela Salazar, 17, added.

"Definitely more fun than hard," guitarist-vocalist Lucia de la Garza, Mila's 14-year-old sister, said.

"And although we had already been playing for two years, our music reaches so many more people now," said Eloise, who is a cousin of Mila and Lucia.

They've also appeared as themselves performing in Amy Poehler's Netflix comedy "Moxie" released this year, and contributed a song for the 2020 documentary "The Claudia Kishi Club."

The Linda Lindas aren't just some viral gimmick; its members have been part of LA's underground music scene for quite a while.

"I grew up going to DIY punk shows that my parents organized to support the music program at my school in Chinatown," Eloise said. "So I've been seeing punks like Alice Bag, Phranc, Dils, Alley Cats and Adolescents since kindergarten. Mila and Lucia, too!"


They were recruited in January 2018 as a temporary backup band for Kristin Kontrol of the indie rock band Dum Dum Girls, to participate in
Girlschool LA, a festival and year-round grant-making and networking program for women in music. After that, they struck out on their own and started playing shows that summer, naming the band after the 2005 Japanese film "Linda Linda Linda" starring Bae Doona.

The Linda Lindas' music is aggressive, energetic, with influences from garage punk, power pop and riot grrrl, and they are breathing new life into a genre that people have been declaring dead since the 1970s.

"(Punk) has a long history, and it started as young people trying to change music," Lucia said. "And that appeals to us and it appeals to people of all ages."

"Punk is for everyone," Bela added.


Maybe not literally everyone, looking at their fateful broadcast, which featured the aggressive anthem against discrimination, "
Racist, Sexist Boy."

While introducing the song, Mila shared a story about a classmate whose dad told him to stay away from Chinese people, shortly before the pandemic hit. "After I told him that I was Chinese, he backed away from me," she said in the video. "Eloise and I wrote this song based on that experience."

"So this is about him and all the other racist, sexist boys in this world!" Eloise shouted, and the band launched into the iconic performance.

About the song, Bela said, "We've had a lot of positive response! (Over) here it's becoming more normal to be aware and be a feminist, and music is a powerful way to express your views in an artistic way."

"Music can affect people in ways that an essay, documentary or photo cannot. I think it's awesome that we not only make music that sounds cool but addresses issues that matter and makes a difference," Eloise said. "Even though the pandemic was really sad, it brought a lot of important issues to the surface, which we have written about."


As well as "Racist, Sexist Boy" exposing the prejudices they've encountered, she pointed out "
Missing You" on their debut four-song mini-album, released last December. The song's lyrics talk about how they've been missing their friends during the pandemic: "Here I sit in my house feeling so blue I'm missing you."

The Linda Lindas pose wearing face masks. / Courtesy of Albert Licano
The Linda Lindas pose wearing face masks. / Courtesy of Albert Licano

But the song also contains a happy message, as they sing, "Yet now I have time to learn to crochet, reading books all day long, and making noodles to stuff my face, even writing new songs."

"I feel like the pandemic gave us time to think and write songs," Bela said. "And our lives haven't changed as much because of it. We've been able to build up to it and get used to it."

"We haven't played that many shows and are really looking forward to performing the songs we've written during the pandemic," Lucia said.

They actually did manage to play a show on Sept. 24, at the LA venue The Smell, showing off even more of their songs and even covering "Tonite" by the Go-Go's, with the Go-Go's original drummer Gina Schock sitting in on drums.

"It was a really small show, and there were really little kids and then there were adults," Mila said.

"I saw a baby in a carrier and guy with a walker," Bela said. "Not a lot of people our age, but we can't drive yet."

"Our shows are multigenerational, though!" Eloise said.

The Linda Lindas perform at The Smell in Los Angeles last month. / Courtesy of Albert Licano
The Linda Lindas perform at The Smell in Los Angeles last month. / Courtesy of Albert Licano

Korea's own punk scene is a far cry from what the Linda Lindas are used to, with the average age closer to 31 than 13 as young people are more and more attracted to K-pop idol groups.

"I have friends who are obsessed with BTS and BlackPink," Bela said.

"Our little cousin likes BTS more than The Linda Lindas," Mila said.

But the members themselves are much more interested in punk, even namedropping Slant, a female-fronted hardcore band in Seoul.


"I don't know much about K-pop, but the Slant
record is great!" Eloise said.

"We'd love to play with Korean punk bands!" Lucia said.

Unfortunately, they won't get the chance this time, but their Pentaport set this Sunday won't go unnoticed by the local punk scene.


Visit
thelindalindas.wixsite.com/rock for more information about the Linda Lindas, or listen to them at thelindalindas.bandcamp.com. Go to pentaport.co.kr or fb.com/pentaportrockfestival for information about the festival.




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