As if to illustrate its dedication to diversity right out of the gate, the current UCSB Arts & Lectures season got off to its twangy start with Charley Crockett, from Texas, then quickly shifted to the Ukrainian sensation DakhaBrakha. Next up, it’s another concert, and another radical shift, as A&L taps the Los Angeles punk-pop scene by bringing the fast-rising young band The Linda Lindas. Saturday’s concert may possibly bring a punkier sound to Campbell Hall than this room has known since Sonic Youth played there in the ‘90s.
Multi-cultural and family tree-rooted, the group — part Asian and part Latinx — is made up of two sisters, a cousin and a best friend, who started out when their age range was between 11 and 17. Mila, Eloise, Lucia, and Bela started out as a cover band from Girlschool L.A., and eventually latched onto the quirky Linda moniker when performing at Save Music in Chinatown benefit events. Formed in 2018, but with its momentum waylaid by the pandemic poltergeist, the group was making the rounds of the L.A. punk circuit, playing alongside such notables as Money Mark, Bleached, Best Coast, Phranc and others.
After releasing its debut EP in 2020, they landed in Amy Poehler’s film Moxie. For a good taste of what The Linda Lindas are about, check in on their breakout hit “Racist, Sexist Boy,” which was performed at the L.A. Public Library initially, but enjoyed a fast-tracking upward mobility thanks to becoming a viral video phenomenon. They struck a mighty and expanding chord with the angry-cheeky anti-racist anthem, written about a classmate whose attitude fits the title. The drummer, dressed in a Bikini Kills t-shirt, explains the background of the song, before the pummeling, yowling punk song is unleashed.
For telling context, though, the punk angst is delivered by young women in fashions, amidst the bookshelves of a library. There’s something semi-innocent beneath the surfaces of their music and collective persona. Comparisons to such acts as Shonen Knife — while repping Riot Grrrl aesthetics — and other feisty female aggregates who have toyed with “girl group” tropes with punk or new wave tendencies come naturally.
For more recent Lindas content, check in with “Growing Up,” the title track of their new album, after being signed by Epitaph Records. The video features the “Lindas” at home, in PJ’s and colorful outfits, jamming on its infectious pop-tarty punk energy in the bedroom and the backyard. Cats also appear, ironically or otherwise. Fittingly, the album title — and the song — tells the tale of this perky-punky unit. The Linda Lindas, four years into their adventure, are growing up in public, expanding their fan base as they go, and rock.