The Linda Lindas are young, spunky and ready to put any “Racist, Sexist Boy” in his place.
Dressed in quilt-patched, DIY ensembles, they ignited the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival with their infectious, uninhibited zeal. Screaming into the microphones and skipping down the walkway, they polished their punk with youthful exuberance, proving themselves the vanguard of riot grrrl for the next generation.
Following their ebullient performance, Lucia de la Garza, Mila de la Garza, Eloise Wong and Bela Salazar made their way to the media tent for an interview with The Daily Californian, chatting about everything from festival food to the lasting appeal of punk.
“What matters in punk is not how perfectly you play your instrument or how perfectly you play your song,” Lucia said. “It’s how much fun you’re having and the energy that you want to bring.”
“As long as you’re doing something you feel matters, it’s all cool,” Wong agreed.
The Linda Lindas may be young, ranging from 12 to 17 years old, but the tight-knit group has already made a meaningful mark on the music scene. Since achieving internet virality for their performance of “Racist, Sexist Boy” at the Los Angeles Public Library in 2021, they have gone on to perform at Mosswood Meltdown and open for the likes of Jawbreaker and Japanese Breakfast. Still, they found the festival exciting, offering everything from long churro lines to a highly anticipated Green Day performance.
“It’s so cool playing at festivals. It’s a different experience just because you get to see people that might not have known who you were before,” Lucia said. “That stage was huge. Honestly, that’s probably the biggest stage we’ve ever played on.”
“Tonite” by The Go-Go’s has long been a staple in The Linda Lindas’ live performances, and the band recently released a studio recording of the song back in July. During their Outside Lands set, they upped the excitement by bringing out Gina Schock, drummer of The Go-Go’s, for a surprise performance. Even as the sun blazed overhead, the girls enthusiastically sang about ruling the night, paying homage to their musical matriarchs in the process.
“Gina’s so cool. And so are all of The Go-Go’s. They’re amazing,” Lucia said. “We’ve listened to them since we were very little, like growing up. So it’s so awesome to get to meet her and have her play a song with us.”
This is not the first time The Linda Lindas have worked closely with their musical influences. After seeing a video of the girls covering “Rebel Girl,” riot grrrl mainstay Kathleen Hanna asked them to open for Bikini Kill in 2019.
“That was just the strangest thing but also the most incredible thing, because we probably would not be here or be at this level without (Hanna) or all the work she’s done in the past few decades,” Lucia said. “It’s so weird to imagine what our lives would be like without her.”
As much as their music draws upon the style pioneered by Hanna and Shock, The Linda Lindas add a youthful, modern flair. In their debut album Growing Up, they playfully and honestly explore their individual experiences coming of age in and out of the spotlight. On album standout “Nino,” Salazar sings about her “savage cat” of the same name, gritty guitars and graceful harmonies layering over her commanding alto.
“I have two cats. And I wrote songs about both of them, because they’re both really interesting characters,” Salazar said. “I wrote ‘Monica’ first and then when I would play the song on guitar my other cat Nino would get really angry, like he’d start meowing and get really mad that I didn’t have a song. So then I made a song for him. And he was purring, like literally purring when I wrote the song.”
From the pencil-sketched, cat-like portraits of the girls projected on the stage to the painted whiskers on Wong’s cheeks, cats remain ubiquitous in the work of The Linda Lindas. Why?
“We just like cats,” Eloise shrugged. Lucia agreed that “they’re pretty punk.”
Through it all, The Linda Lindas succeed in bringing riot grrrl to new audiences. The genre doesn’t stop with Le Tigre and Sleater-Kinney — it’s constantly reinventing itself and finding its way to the next generation. So, when Amy Poehler released “Moxie,” a film about a teenage girl who creates a feminist zine to fight against sexism at her high school, Poehler naturally lined The Linda Lindas up for a feature.
“That was the first time we ever properly recorded in a studio with the four of us, so that was an honor,” Mila said. “We played ‘Rebel Girl,’ and we also played ‘Big Mouth’ by The Muffs, so that was cool to get to play those songs for that movie.”
Whether they’re screaming at the public library or singing about their cats, The Linda Lindas know what makes punk punk. If those girls think they’re the queens of the neighborhood, it’s because they are.