Bikini Kill, the Riot Grrrl-era band, recently announced a small reunion tour with shows in New York and Los Angeles.
Bikini Kill & Me
As someone born in 1993, the era where grunge music and Riot Grrrl bands came to be, I obviously couldn’t appreciate it at the time. But when I first learned about Riot Grrrl, particularly Bikini Kill, in college, I was hooked. I sure wished there were cool all-female bands like that in the mid-2000s, when I was a teen.
Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna is a feminist icon (and the girl crush of Keira Knightley). Her lyrics in Bikini Kill’s songs definitely have queer undertones. For instance, these lines from their hit song Rebel Girl:
‘When she talks, I hear the revolution
In her hips, there’s revolutions
When she walks, the revolution’s coming
In her kiss, I taste the revolution!’
When I was just becoming aware of my own bisexuality, it’s songs like these that became my personal soundtrack. So of course I was super excited to get the chance to see Bikini Kill live and in person!
But alas, I won’t be seeing the show after all.
I was on the designated ticket website at exactly noon, when they went on sale. But to my surprise, there were no tickets left. I wasn’t the only one experiencing this issue, either. Countless of comments on Bikini Kill’s Facebook page showed that very few people actually scored a ticket. In fact, some people were in the process of checking out when the tickets disappeared from their carts.
However, plenty of tickets were already up for resale on StubHub, with a jacked-up price roughly 4x the original price.
Despite the ticket website, AXS, claiming to prevent bots from buying out tickets by using captchas and making a limit of 4 per customer, it seems those efforts have massively failed. This was not my first time facing this issue. Back in early 2016, I attempted to buy tickets for the Jack’s Mannequin 10 year anniversary tour. I had the same exact dilemma — despite being ready to purchase the tickets the minute they went on sale, they were already sold out.
Other people I know have experienced similar things. A friend of mine, Grace Abrahms, wanted to see Elton John’s final tour. ‘Interviews all said tickets would be $45-225 (€39.57-197.85), maxing out there,’ she told me.
‘But folks bought out all of the tickets and are selling them for $500+ (€439.66+). No cheap tickets at all. So like, this big moment that can never be experienced again in history is reserved only for people with tons of expendable income. Sad.’
Disappointment of Fans
What struck me the most about the whole ordeal with the Bikini Kill tickets is how decidedly un-punk and un-feminist the whole thing was. The point of the 90s Riot Grrrl movement was to make punk shows accessible to young women. But now, a new generation of young women won’t be able to have those experiences.
Today, 20 January, Bikini Kill posted a note to their Facebook page addressing the ticketing issues.
‘We wanted to apologize to everyone who had a bad experience trying to get tickets to our upcoming shows,’ the band wrote.
‘We weren’t aware of the pre-sale for people with a certain credit card in NY until it was too late and that will not happen in the future,’ they continue, referencing AXS’ pre-sale for those with American Express cards.
‘Also as soon as we realized there were problems, we tried to put as many obstacles in front of scalpers as we could and are trying to figure out a better solution going forward.’
The Banned Bots
These virtual ticket scalping bots are a huge issue, and continue to harm fans despite bans on them.
‘Sophisticated internet software known as bots race through ticket sellers’ online ordering forms and buy hundreds of tickets well before human eyes even reach a captcha. Those tickets then get resold with a serious markup,’ Pew reports.
‘One broker used bots to buy 30,000 “Hamilton” tickets over 20 months — vacuuming up as much as 40 percent of available seats for some performances — according to a lawsuit by Ticketmaster. During Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway run, tickets with a $75 face value were selling for $1,400 on StubHub.’
As a fan of concerts and shows, I really hope bands like Bikini Kill will figure out other ways of selling tickets in the future. Ideally, it would be great to be able to buy them from the artist’s website directly and avoid big companies like Ticketmaster altogether.