Babes in Toyland: Minneapolis Megastars Reincarnated

Darragh Cutter

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May 21, 2015
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Babes in Toyland are expected to reunite in early Spring, rebirthing the iconic grunge rock sound of the 90’s. (Southern Records)

Babes in Toyland, one of the most iconic grunge/punk bands of all time, is back together, and now the whole music community is on edge to see what happens next. They have officially announced a reunion, as well as some new material on the way. Alright, I know that it’s not the 1990’s anymore. I know that Kool-Aid stained hair is no longer in style, and that flannel-wearing, ripped-jeans-stunting, grunge rockers no longer roam the streets, but it’s still a major deal. They are possibly some of the most forgotten rock stars of the 90’s, but in their day, there was no one that shined brighter

They were the biggest all-girl band to hit the music scene in the late 90’s, but they didn’t play like girls. In fact, they made the boys run home with their tails between their legs. Every time someone listens to Babes, they feel like it’s back in the prime time of the 90’s grunge scene. Now, to be fair, I do have a bias. My mom was backstage at a Babes’ concert when she went into labor with me, and the whole band dropped the set to come to the hospital, but that doesn’t change the fact that these three ladies can rock.

They had it all: the hardcore sound, the punch lyrics, the crazy grunge look. Lori Barbero, the long time drummer for the band, had the hard hitting drums that started the band out in a perfect punk fashion. Kat Bjelland, the singer and guitarist, had the vocal range to amaze, and she could go from one end to the other in a heartbeat, and if listeners didn’t like it, she always seemed ready to use her guitar to rearrange their faces. Is that a little over the top aggressive? Maybe, but to play in the boys club, these women couldn’t take anything for granted. Then there was Maureen Herman, the bassist who brought the whole act together, and man could she play. Punk rock bands needed a good bassist to set and keep the rhythm, and Maureen could do it better than just about anyone.

At the end of the 90’s, Babes fell apart. Lori started to produce local music, and eventually took her talents south for warmer weather, but she still comes back to see the city she made such an impact on, and to enjoy the music. Kat left the limelight in the early 2000’s, but she never stopped making music, which is her first love. Maureen hit rock bottom at the end of the the band’s life, but has since cleaned up and become a writer and a women’s activist, all while juggling being a mom. They’ve all come a long ways from their 90’s punk rocker selves, but one thing stands true: Babes in Toyland shook the music scene up, and made sure everyone knew that girls could play as hard as any boys in the business. They broke down social stigmas, and took the grunge world by force, and now they’re back for more. There is no official word on when they will play their first show, but the speculation points towards reunion shows as early as next spring.