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September 16, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Kathleen Hanna’s The Julie Ruin at Neumos a sort of homecoming | Concert review

The Julie Ruin

NYC’s The Julie Ruin — with Kathleen Hanna, at center — played Seattle Sunday. Photo by Aliya Naumoff.

You might guess there’s not a lot of crossover between Seahawks followers and Kathleen Hanna fans — and you’d be right.

“Go Mariners!” the 45-year-old singer teased Sunday, as her new five-person squad, The Julie Ruin, took the stage at Neumos to roars of affirmation minutes after the Seattle footballers closed out an early-season win against San Francisco.

Reviews of T.J.R.’s recent debut LP, “Run Fast” — the former Bikini Kill and Le Tigre frontwoman’s first in nine years — have been mixed.

Some have hailed its 13 rapid-fire, New Wave-flavored pop offerings as a return to form for the punk heroine, with others calling it too little too late.

The New York-based band’s hourlong set Sunday supported both opinions. Lead single “Oh Come On” is a bona-fide anthem, a spiritual cousin to B.K.’s “Rebel Girl” and L.T.’s “Deceptacon.” The monster-ballad title track, however, was more sappy than sassy; the rap-inflected “Girls Like Us,” harsh and unintelligible.

Long-haired, bearded keyboardist Kenny Mellman’s backup vocals — goofy interjections reminiscent of Fred Schneider’s in the B-52s — were incongruous, as was the band’s onstage makeup. Flanking the animated Mellman and Hanna, guitarist Sara Landeau, bassist Kathi Wilcox and drummer Carmine Covelli looked comparatively stiff.

Yet for Hanna’s diehards, seeing her at all — she recently revealed she’s been battling Lyme disease, but is in remission, thankfully — seemed to far outweigh the set’s aesthetic imperfections.

Between songs, she hit all the right notes, saluting the underagers in the balcony and referring to Olympia — where B.K. helped kickstart the riot-grrrl movement of the early 1990s — as her “true hometown.”

Back then, Hanna’s confrontational stage presence was the stuff of legend. Sunday, though, she was all casual fun — gyrating and fist-pumping, Caffé Vita to-go cup in hand, having a blast. The front of the room — a mass of asymmetrical haircuts, oversized glasses and moth-eaten sweaters — matched her move-for-move, all night long.

Openers La Sera, from Los Angeles, put a summery spin on the hyper-melodic Wipers-meets-Shangri-Las sound singer-bassist Katy Goodman’s primary project, Vivian Girls, perfected on 2009’s “Everything Goes Wrong.”

Performing songs off her forthcoming third album for Seattle indie Hardly Art, the statuesque redhead proved a capable and charming bandleader. It could be said, however, that Goodman’s four-piece group — albeit solid — played it a little too safe.

Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: Kathleen Hanna, New York, Olympia


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