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Thirty-five years of wiggin’ out

Girl Trouble celebrates a milestone by splitting up -- and reuniting

Can you think of a band more synonymous with Tacoma than Girl Trouble? Photo credit: Tim Olsen

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Thinking about what bands are completely synonymous with Tacoma, I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better answer than Girl Trouble. The band mixes garage rock with ‘50s rock, a detached cool and an impeccable showmanship, and an abiding love for the City of Destiny that has made them Tacoma's greatest mascots for the past 35 years -- a milestone that Girl Trouble will be celebrating this Saturday with an intriguingly tongue-in-cheek concept of a show at Alma Mater's Fawcett Hall.

Dubbed the "Break Up or Make Up" show, the event will feature each band member performing with their own one-off Girl Trouble "tribute bands."

"This is an idea we've batted around for a few years now," says Girl Trouble Drummer Bon Von Wheelie. "We always get these ideas when we are practicing. Sometimes we do them (like playing the acoustic set during the Sub Pop 20 show outside the venue), and sometimes they stay in the practice shed. We were talking about how some of these older bands will split apart and different members will form their own ‘bands.' They usually have one member of the band and new members who had nothing to do with the original, will name themselves something similar, and then play the songs of the original band. Lots of them were coming to the casinos a few years ago. We just started talking about how it would be entertaining if we tried that out."

The four tribute bands -- including Dale Phillips' Girl Trouble Revival, Von Wheelie's Express, KP's GT, and Kahuna's All-Girl Tribute to Girl Trouble, all featuring Tacoma music dignitaries -- will each open the show, each band playing three Girl Trouble originals and one cover. Afterwards, if the fates align, Girl Trouble will reunite onstage for a headlining performance. As far as anniversary shows go, this one will play like the fusing of two alternate timelines of where Girl Trouble could've ended up: standing strong together or muddling through without each other.

"When I think of how long 35 years are, that seems like a really long time," says Von Wheelie. "But I remember that first show (Battle of the Bands at Ft. Steilacoom Community College) like it was yesterday. If I just think about that first show, it doesn't really seem like that long, but then when I think of all the stuff in between, it's a little shocking. When we started, I figured if we could play a few shows and maybe open for the U-Men, we would be a huge success. I never expected to make any records, or get any kind of press, or (and this is the big one for me) tour to anywhere! So, this has exceeded my limited expectations by quite a bit."

As for the possibility of Girl Trouble wrapping it up any time soon, Von Wheelie's assured response should come as no surprise.

"With Girl Trouble, we just keep chugging along, and as long as we are having fun, that's all we need," says Von Wheelie. "I gauge how it's going by band practice. Are we still laughing at practice? Since we are, Girl Trouble is still on the right track. Everything else is just gravy."

GIRL TROUBLE'S 35th ANNIVERSARY, Saturday, 8 p.m., Fawcett Hall at Alma Mater, 1322 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, $10, 253.302.3926,


Also at Alma Mater's Fawcett Hall venue, the night before is a concert in honor of International Womxn's Day. The show will feature the stomping rock of Thunderpussy, the earthy alt-soul of Whitney Mongé, the blues-flecked crooning of Stephanie Anne Johnson, and the passionate R&B of Jordani, among others. Proceeds from the event will be going to vital nonprofits Planned Parenthood, YWCA Pierce County, and Rainy City Rock Camp for Girls. I can't think of a better way to spend a Friday than by supporting great causes by taking in a night of awesome music.

WOMXN'S DAY, w/ Thunderpussy, Whitney Mongé, Stephanie Anne Johnson, Jordani, more TBA, 7 p.m., Friday, Fawcett Hall at Alma Mater, 1322 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, 253.302.3926,

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