Sometimes you hear about a new band and you just know they’re going to be great. Like when they're named She’s Burgers.
She's Burgers is made up seven girls aged 7 to 10 who write punk songs and, as their music instructor Kat Hansberry put it in a Facebook post announcing a Pride Block Party show in June, they “absolutely SHRED.”
But it’s the poster for that show that really sold me.
You get it, right? I had to know more. So this weekend, I caught a short She’s Burgers set during the Twin Town showcase at the Uptown VFW.
She’s Burgers is Malati Niskode-Dossett (age 10, drums and vocals), Nora Brown (9, drums), Echo Gilbertson (9, vocals), Mirella Ernst (10, vocals), Annika Ackerson (7, vocals), Joey Deshler (9, piano and vocals), and Daphne Thompson (9, guitar). Niskode-Dossett, Gilbertson, and Deshler split songwriting duties (and the incredible poster for their Bryant-Lake Bowl show was designed by Ackerson).
“They’re girl power songs,” Niskode-Dossett tells Racket. “It’s like a feminist thing.”
As for why they write these songs? “We want to!” Deshler says simply. “We have a right to feel strong.”
“It’s hard to put into words just how powerful these girls are,” says Hansberry. “I don't know if they realize how big of a deal what they’re doing is.”
Girls fight off diseases better. They're just as strong as men. “And men are six times more likely to get struck by lightning,” Niskode-Dossett chimes in.
Their three-song Saturday set opened with a contribution from Niskode-Dossett called “This is What a Girl Looks Like.” The chorus, which the girls sing together, gang vocal style, repeats: “I am strong and brave and tough and smart/This is what a girl looks like.”
She wrote it because “It’s true,” she says. “I wanted to characterize what girls can do. How we don’t have to be better than men, but we’re equal. Or better.”
The girls say they draw a lot of their inspiration from school, having felt underestimated by both their teachers and the boys in their classes.
Gilbertson’s song “Animal” followed. “Boys are always like, they ‘run the world,’” she says, emphasizing the point with air quotes. That’s not the case in the animal kingdom—take lionesses, who are the primary hunters and leaders of their pride. “It’s basically about how strong females are,” Gilbertson adds.
“I act like an animal/To me it’s understandable/It just makes me feel radical/Animals are magical.”
She’s Burgers’ three-song set ended with one written by Deshler, “Things That are Unfair,” inspired by the fact that there are fewer opportunities for women in sports than there are for men. “It makes me feel motivated to do something to protest that,” she says.
The song is made up of the kind of cute-but-cutting couplets that are such a staple of riot grrrl—“It’s almost like you’ve never met a girl who’s better”—and the whole thing devolves wonderfully into a whole-band chant of “Where’s my football team? I want a football team!”
“They're intentionally taking up space as girls in a male-dominated space, and they’re sharing their unique perspectives on femininity in an absolutely fearless way,” says Hansberry. “And they’re doing it early enough in their lives that it’s just always going to be normal for them ... they're never going to feel like they have to ask permission to get on stage.”
This fall, She's Burgers will record their first record at Flowers Studio in Minneapolis (which was founded by vocalist Annika Ackerson's father, the late Ed Ackerson). They have a record release tentatively scheduled for November 12 at Can Can Wonderland.
“I really like this band because it’s a strong group of young girls and I really like being part of it,” Deshler says.
Plus, “No offense, but there’s no boys!” Thompson laughs.
"These girls are not afraid to be big, and noisy, and share their opinions, and demand change where they see injustice," Hansberry says. "I wholeheartedly predict that a decade or two from now our stages will have loads more women and gender expansive people on them because of girls like these.”
As for She's Burgers' advice for other young girls who want to start a band?
"Do it," Niskode-Dossett says. "Go for it."
"If you're nervous, put something you believe in into your songs," Deshler adds. "Then you're just saying stuff you believe."