A Brief and Incomplete Guide to Queercore

If you're just tuning in to queer punk and its offshoots, here are a few key bands to get you started.

Feature by Nine | 06 Jan 2008

Team Dresch
Formed in Oregon in the nineties, Team Dresch described their sound as "lesbionic punk rock" – word is that the term 'lesbionic' was in fact coined by the judge who reckoned guitarist/vocalist Jody essentially invited her own assault when she was queer-bashed after a show in Portland. They were angry and funny and catchy. They also reformed in 2004, although their reunion shows haven't made it beyond the States as yet. But they're still inciting inspiration, revolution and crushes among dykes the world over, and their members have gone on to various projects, including The Butchies and the now-defunct Mr Lady Records (who put out Le Tigre's first two albums).

Pansy Division
The first Pansy Division album I picked up, Wish I'd Taken Pictures, combines sexually explicit pop-punk with safer sex references and resources for queer youth. Although Dick of Death is, as background music, the song most likely to stop visitors in their tracks, my personal favourite might be Sidewalk Sale, as it describes so well the assembly of desperate leftovers you find hovering outside the club after closing time. ("Don't want to go home alone, but how low will you go? Self-respect is about to fail, feeling pathetic at the sidewalk sale.") Formed in 1991, they're still going strong.

Tribe 8
Putting the riot in riot grrrl, this all-dyke band played explosive shows, and had a focus on queer, transgender, multiracial and working class visibility. The award-winning Tribe 8 documentary, Rise Above, captures the live experience – with founder Lynn Breedlove frequently topless and wearing a strap-on – as well as the band's humour and politics. Nowadays, they play once in a blue moon, with Breedlove focusing on various other projects, such as homohop, radio shows, and the novel and film Godspeed.

Sister George
One of the first queercore bands hailing from the UK, Sister George's album Drag King featured the message F**K YOUR HEALTHY GAY LIFESTYLE! on the back cover. Along with 100 x No!, their mocking cover of Tom Robinson's (Sing if You're) Glad to be Gay – featuring a sample of Aileen Wuornos explaining "We kill in self-defence" - this more than set the scene. Let's Breed similarly took the piss out of the hetero mainstream. Sister George didn't last very long, but they made an exciting impact on queers in the British indie/punk scene.

Limp Wrist
Los Crudos were best-known for the furious, 37-second We're That Spic Band, so when vocalist Martin Sorrondeguy went on to form queercore band Limp Wrist, their signature tune I Love Hardcore Boys, I Love Boys Hardcore was a logical progression. Defiantly against assimilation, typical lyrics attack homophobic punks, closeted conservatives and image-obsessed queers. The band members live on opposing coasts of the USA, so they rarely get together to play shows, but all the same they've managed an impressive discography.

Jayne County
A couple of years after forming Wayne County and the Electric Chairs in 1977, Wayne transitioned to Jayne, but continued to fuck shit up like she'd always done. Song titles like Cream in My Jeans, Toilet Love, Fuck Off and Everyone's an Asshole But Me reveal an unmistakably snotty seventies punk attitude. She's also appeared in numerous films, plays and musicals, and published the autobiography Man Enough to be a Woman. And she's still around, these days largely taking aim at the Bush administration.

See also:
The Butchies, Fifth Column, Gay For Johnny Depp, Gayrilla Biscuits, God Is My Co-Pilot, The Gossip, The Hidden Cameras, Huggy Bear, Le Tigre, Lesbians On Ecstasy, The Third Sex