Fun Fun Fun Fest Live Shot: the Julie Ruin

Kathleen Hanna’s New Wave B-52’s

Fun Fun Fun Fest Live Shot: the Julie Ruin
by Shelley Hiam

Fantastic, seeing Kathleen Hanna and Kathi Wilcox together again on a stage. Admittedly, some of us got nostalgic for Bikini Kill at Austin’s long-gone Cavity Club while watching the bandmates’ new group, the Julie Ruin, on Sunday. Both those entities were a long time ago.

As opposed to Bikini Kill’s full bore, hammer-and-tongs punk rock, the Julie Ruin arrives very New Wave. More specifically, they’ve distilled the best elements of the B-52's and made ’em rock much harder.

Hanna remains an engaging, endearing presence onstage. Her singing sounds rounder and fuller than on the Julie Ruin’s debut full-length, Run Fast. And this band sports some potential hits, including “Oh Come On” and “Ha Ha Ha,” filled with crunchy guitar, Eighties-rific synths, and tons of drive.

Yet if the Julie Ruin has an Achilles heel, it’s keyboardist Kenny Mellman. His playing’s a fine, essential element, but his “background vocals” are jarring at best, as if he’s intentionally trying to sound like a guy who can’t sing. And at least at this show, his vocals were way too high in the mix. Louder, even, than Kathleen Hanna’s.

Loud sour notes aside, the Julie Ruin are good enough to search out their CD. That would also mean avoiding the most boring audience all weekend. I wanted to set a few shirts on fire just to make it more fun. The Julie Ruin must have wondered who emptied the city morgue, for all the action there.

For more Fun Fun Fun Fest coverage, see For photo galleries from the fest, see

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Fun Fun Fun Fest
Fun Fun Fun Comedy: Your Lineup Is...
Fun Fun Fun Comedy: Your Lineup Is...
For the 10th fest, "FFF" can stand for "familiar funny folk"

Robert Faires, July 28, 2015

Fun Fun Fun Live Shot: Wiz Khalifa
Fun Fun Fun Live Shot: Wiz Khalifa
Trust your mofo MC

Nina Hernandez, Nov. 10, 2014

More the Julie Ruin
Fun Fun Fun Fest Femmes
Fun Fun Fun Fest Femmes
The other “F” word at Auditorium Shores

Abby Johnston, Nov. 7, 2013

Fun Fun Fun Fest Lineup Revealed
Fun Fun Fun Fest Lineup Revealed
November 8-10 festival washes 86 acts onto Auditorium Shores

Chase Hoffberger, July 9, 2013

More by Tim Stegall
Austin Punk Chronicles:
Austin Punk Chronicles: "Hard, Fast & Unapologetic" – Raul's Shifts Into Fourth Gear
In the wake of the one-night debut of the Skunks and the Violators, Austin punk begins in earnest in Chapter 5, Part 2 of the "Austin Punk Chronicles"

Aug. 12, 2022

Austin Punk Chronicles: The Shock of the New – The Violators and the Skunks Invade Raul's
Austin Punk Chronicles: The Shock of the New – The Violators and the Skunks Invade Raul's
14 days after the Sex Pistols break up and mainstream media declares punk dead, Austin's scene begins at a Tejano bar on the Drag in Chapter 5, Part 1 of the "Austin Punk Chronicles"

Aug. 5, 2022


Fun Fun Fun Fest, the Julie Ruin, Fun Fun Fun Fest 2013, Kathleen Hanna, Kathi Wilcox, Bikini Kill, Kenny Mellman

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle