The Linda Lindas perform at Campbell Hall on October 15, 2022 | Credit: David Bazemore Photo

The terms “wholesome” and “punk rock” don’t normally cross paths, but on Saturday night, they not only met but became BFFs when the Linda Lindas took the stage.

Young fans were out in force — like, the under-10 crowd — many already sporting Linda Lindas merch, at this UCSB Arts & Lectures concert, presented in association with Girls Rock Santa Barbara.

The band members, Bela Salazar, Lucia de la Garza, Eloise Wong, and Mila de la Garza — two sisters, one cousin, and a close friend who range in age from 18 to 12 — have been playing together since 2018. They once opened for Riot Grrrl legends Bikini Kill at a reunion show at the Hollywood Palladium.

The band’s been on an upward trajectory: appearing in the 2021 film Moxie, directed by Amy Poehler; and going very viral in September 2021, when the Linda Lindas performed a set featuring their song “Racist, Sexist Boy” at the Los Angeles Public Library. The result was an expedited deal with Epitaph Records — their debut album, Growing Up, is now available.

The Linda Lindas perform at Campbell Hall on October 15, 2022 | Credit: David Bazemore

At Campbell Hall, their tight, shade-over-an-hour show had no intermission, the 20-song set taking the audience on an uninterrupted thrill ride of raw guitar riffs and infectious punk-pop melodies backed by solid musicianship. With the natural energy of youth, they also seem to have absorbed the mojo of old-school punk bands, leaping in the air then melting down to the stage, never ceasing the ferocity of the beat. 

In delightful contrast, between-song patter included a description of their day in Santa Barbara, eating ice cream and pasta and enjoying the sights — and one member’s admission that she finished her English essay but hadn’t proofread it yet.

The whole band writes and sings their songs, taking turns at lead vocals throughout the show. The Linda Lindas tackle weighty topics such as racism, sexism, and identity. They proudly announced before their song “Vote” that Salazar is now 18 and can vote, and they implored the audience to do so for those not yet able. They also sing about friendship, growing up, and cats. Salazar’s two cats each have their own songs: “Monica” and “Nino.”

By their last number, the anthem “Rebel Girl,” kids and adults were up in the aisles, joyfully dancing. It was truly inspiring to see the young ones exposed to the example of kids not much older than themselves playing professionally, and so skillfully.

Takeaway from this thoroughly enjoyable evening with the Linda Lindas? Girls do indeed rock.

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