Written by Hannah Fleming
Above: Hannah Mohan of And the Kids.
There was minimal dancing at Ra Ra Riot, And the Kids, and PWR BTTM’s Denver show. This was probably because it was Monday, and the crowd of middle-aged men had missed the millennial memo: Ra Ra Riot is no longer relevant after eighth grade.
And the Kids was a few songs into their set before bassist Taliana Katz posed the question on all the touring bands’ brains: “Just trying to gauge, how many people here are high?”
A few stragglers raised their hands. One dude in a polo shirt turned to his friend and said, “I wish.”
Even if the Bluebird didn’t provide the vibes, And the Kids were vibrant onstage. They are “the new kids” so to speak in the indie pop scene, a quirky all-girl trio formed in North Hampton by guitarist and singer Hannah Mohan, drummer Rebecca Lasaponaro, and keyboardist Megan Miller. Katz has stepped in for Miller because Mohan and Lasaponaro were her counselors at a girls’ rock camp, and because Miller is Canadian and currently not allowed in the country.
“I lost a little spirit when Megan left so I haven’t been wearing as much glitter, but it’s in my heart,” says Mohan. She’s standing next to a bus stop, though she has plainly told the buses she’s not going for a ride. With short-cropped bangs and bouncy platform sneakers, she looks like the kind of whimsical musician who just might.
Mohan and Lasaponaro started writing songs in middle school. Shortly thereafter, the band became “And the pirates and the kids,” which they later decided was confusing.
“We started playing in this practice studio that was way too huge for us to just be practicing in it, so we had shows there too—we called it Jampony studio,” says Mohan. “So we had a bunch of local bands come and then a bunch of out-of-town bands come, and then we decided to start playing bars and pizza joints.”
“We actually used to busk a lot,” Lasaponaro adds.
Occasionally, and accidentally, they wrote Sheryl Crow songs.
“We realized it was ‘I’m gonna soak up the sun,’” says Mohan.
“Same chords, same melody,” says Lasaponaro.
In February of last year, And the Kids released their first full-length album Turn to Each Other, which feels like a celebration of just that—each other. The album is layered with harmonies and eclectic melodies that speak to the general anxiety of being a woman, being a weird woman, being a queer woman. On “Cats are Born,” Mohan croons: “Sometimes I’m a monster in the closet, closet/ We cannot change the name that our fathers give to us.”
Mohan, Lasaponaro and Katz also can’t change the fact that in this world of misogynistic man-shredders, “woman” will always be a prefix to “musician.” Lasaponaro puts it this way: “We had some guy come up to us at the show yesterday and be like ‘you guys played such a great show, I wasn’t expecting it you know, because of all this.’” She gestures under her boobs.
“And you’re like ‘WHAT all of THIS’,” says Mohan, pretending to play with hers.
“He was like ‘high five me!’” said Lasaponaro.
The appropriate response, according to Mohan, is to throw a water bottle in his face, which she actually did with a bouncer at a show in New York. She was outside the venue deflating their inflatable deer (found in the woods of Washington, now a kind of band mascot) when the inevitable occurred.
“He was sexualizing it like ‘get it get it’ and I was like how dare he sexualize what I’m doing, I’m living my life—how dare he make it a sexual fantasy for himself, you know?” says Mohan. “So I was like ‘fuck right off’ and I threw my water at him.”
When it comes to developing more confidence onstage, And the Kids appears to embrace drumming faces and pre-show power stances.
Katz turns to Lasaponaro. “What I’ve noticed is that your eyes roll back in your head when we play ‘Cats are Born,’ but only for that song,” she says.
“I was too scared to really get into the music, but now I just kind of let whatever happen.”
“I should do this power thing before I get onstage. One way to get confidence is to make your body bigger.” Mohan strikes something similar to a power pose.
If they could tour with any one band, they say it would be Oberhoffer—on a larger scale, it’s the ethereal femme fatale St. Vincent. Whoever they tour with would be difficult to match with their brand of “indie pop,” which, as Mohan says, “you have to mash a bunch of things together to achieve.”
“I thought we were our own genre?” Katz asks.
Returning to watch Ra Ra Riot sing a song about a bouncy castle, it’s difficult not to feel like you’re having an existential crisis—which may or may not be resolved with songs like “Secret Makeout Factory,” where Mohan sings “I’ve been a little anxious/ For my life life life/ For my whole damn life.” At least she’s learning to take her own advice.
“Block out anybody that is judging you because life is way too short not to do what you want to do just because people are watching,” Mohan says. “People look at me and are like ‘Wow, she’s really being herself’ but a lot of the time I feel like ‘Wow, I could be even more myself.’”