Punk rock and punk fashion started flirting with tribalism from the get go. Punk was the sound of the new, it was hard and heavy, yet the feelings it stirred were utterly primal.
Punk took Glam’s lumpy rhythms and turned them into a wild, driving jungle beat suiting both the mood and the times.
Later down the line the war-painted Ants called themselves the Kings of the Wild Frontier, and Annabella Lwin led a minor charge from the riverbank; Go Wild in the Country was all jungle drums and excited whoops, but this isn’t the tribalism we mean.
Whatever it was, that punk was triggering in the girls in the late 1970s, at its root was the sort of unspoken battle cry that turned out to be more profound than either the music, the fashion or the concerned parents could even comprehend.
This call to arms, this call to join in, was made in a language that was so primal, so deeply rooted in something from history, that to follow it felt more like instinct.
Raised on a diet of mainstream tastes and High Street looks, punk came thundering in like a juggernaut with no brakes. For girls especially, music went from the glib and the contrived strains of the Bay City Rollers, straight into the noisy, genuine, free-for-all that arrived with the rise of Punk in the late 1970s.
The Slits understood this as well as anyone, they were young enough to feel it like we did. They understood its power and its pull, and they understood that being a virtuoso musician was not going to get the job done. If The Slits had had a hit record earlier, then it would have been them carrying the flag, but as it was, leading the charge of this new girl tribalism was the Ice Queen herself.
Although one of the last of the early Punk bands to be signed to a major label, Siouxsie and the Banshees had the advantage by immediately having hit singles that would put them on national television. Siouxsie in her distinctive array of outfits almost single-handedly took the new girl tribalism to the masses. She was for some, the first taste of something darker, something stronger, something far more potent. A marked departure from all the smiling girls in floaty dresses and flicked hair that had come before, Siouxsie became our first high profile translator of this new language; one made up of rage, confidence and a lot of style.
With song lyrics charged with tales of madness and other worlds, Siouxsie stabbed at our curiosity, took us to unchartered places and became one of the major figureheads of this, our new tribe.
With all the poise of a bird of prey towering over her audience ready to swoop, Siouxsie upped the game as far as girls were concerned. She was there to be copied, her look could be tried on for size and the power of her stance was there to inspire.
Siouxsie read the new situation with ease, she was so effortlessly fluent in it, and generous enough to share it around.