Girls with Guns

At Club 340 on Saturday, October 29

A suspiciously happy man-sheep, an anatomically correct Lara Croft, a bumbling-but-lucid Hunter S. Thompson, and a gaggle of vampires and vampiras gathered at Club 340 on Saturday night for a punk-rock fundraiser. As part of the second annual Girls With Guns benefit, four female-fronted local acts-the Jaded Jinas, Betty Kracker, Victorian Pork, and DuVallstar-and 30 of their friends tested the limits of the venue's sound system while raising money for the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre.

Apocalyptic fem-punk openers the Jaded Jinas-self-professed "cunts" whose music is "sexy, vicious grungery"-waited until after the Canucks lost before screaming, swearing, and slamming their way through a 45-minute set. Highlights included an After School Special boxed set's worth of high-school stories from frontwoman Mizz Karage Jina.

By the time impressive SoCal-hardcore-meets-Brit-pop rockers Betty Kracker set up and sound-checked, the regulars were slumped over in their seats and the majority of the sparse crowd had taken up residency in the Plexiglas cancer cage. With drummer Shannon and guitarist Nevada taking turns on the vocals, Betty Kracker expertly fused elements of the Pixies, Violent Femmes, Sonic Youth, and Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet to create an energized, politically charged sound that left this reviewer excitedly wondering where the band would be playing next.

The most anticipated act of the night was father-daughter outfit Victorian Pork. Originally formed in 1977, this band has seen a long cast of important punkers pass through its ranks, including future members of Social Distortion, D.O.A., and the Subhumans. For this show, bassist Tony Bardach (most famous as a member of the Pointed Sticks) dressed as Joseph Stalin, while his 21-year-old daughter, singer-guitarist LX, was a prom queen in a pink sequined mini-dress and dollar-store crown. The group opened with LX draped in a B.C. flag, carrying on an Olde English shtick about royalty and sovereignty in a horrendous British accent that eventually lured the smokers out of their display case. With a Ramones-like intensity, the four-foot-nothing frontwaif oscillated seamlessly between appearing dazed and confused, possessed and perturbed, darling and demure. Victorian Pork was the only band that commanded the attention of the entire audience-save for the aforementioned regulars, who remained slouched and drooling throughout the set of explosive two-minute punk songs.

As the last act on the bill, ex-Bif Naked guitarist Siobhan Duvall's new punk-rock-power-pop outfit DuVall?star was shortchanged. The I'm-with-the-band/I'm-in-a-band crowd had thinned to a handful of revellers slipping and sliding around the beer-soaked hardwood floor. Judging by some of the elaborate costumes on view earlier in the evening, it seems the Girls With Guns benefit was but a punk-rock pit stop for those en route to other Halloween fetes.