Bait Bag. Left to right: Fiona Robins, Claire Donnelly and Courtney Naliboff. Photo courtesy of the band

As I write this, it’s the morning after rioters took over the Capitol building and Washington, D.C., was spun into a kind of chaos that chilled me to the bone and reignited a rage that’s been a cauldron in my belly for the past four years.

In the middle of seeing the insanity unfold on live TV and on my Twitter feed, I knew there was only one thing I was going to write about for this week’s column, and that’s the bold new song “Safe Word” from feminist punk trio Bait Bag.

I discovered the North Haven band two years ago and have been a rabid fan ever since. The band is singer/bassist Courtney Naliboff, singer/guitarist Fiona Robins and drummer Claire Donnelly.

They formed in 2018 and were inspired by the ’90s “riot grrrl” feminist punk movement. Back then, I wasn’t into that kind of music; I was all about Tori Amos and Indigo Girls. While I still love both of those artists, Bait Bag showed me the way into female-powered punk, and I’ve been enjoying schooling myself about the genre.

Like for every other band in Maine, their ability to perform live has been stifled by the pandemic, but they haven’t been idle. In April, they released the song “Rotten Eggs” and made a video using clips from friends and family.

On New Year’s Eve, they resurfaced in a huge way by dropping the single “Safe Word,” and it’s a classic punk tune, clocking in at under two minutes and taking swings at the calamity that was 2020. Naliboff wrote it last spring, aka early pandemic days, and in the handful of days since it’s been out in the world, I’ve adopted it as my theme song. “Safe Word” is a fast, furious and righteous rallying cry. It’s got a huge “if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention” message, and I, for one, am here for it.

Here are a few of the lyrics:

“1920, it would’ve have been enough, it would have been plenty
Every year since 2016, we’ve been asking how the world could be so mean
Can’t spot posting that dumpster fire meme”

And here are a few more:

“I’m down on my knees, I’m begging you sweetly, I’m asking you please
This is my safe word, I’m wondering why
I’m screaming and crying, because I’m not ready to die
Dayenu, it would’ve been enough”

Artwork for Bait Bag’s single “Safe Word.”

I reached out to the band, and the first order of business was finding out what they meant by the term “Dayenu.” They explained that Dayenu is a Hebrew phrase that means “it would have been enough, and that typically it’s used as part of a Passover seder to list all the things that God did for the Israelites.” But here, per the band, it means “enough already.”

While I had their attention, I also asked the band how they were holding up 10-plus months into the pandemic. “We’re OK, the outbreak here was scary but everyone did the right thing and hunkered down and we’re back to zero cases. We’re missing our off-island friends and families though,” said the bandmates. On the hopeful scale, they rated themselves as “medium” because, although they’re happy about the outcome of recent elections, there’s a huge wait-and-see element. “That needs to translate to authentic legislation across the board.”

Bait Bag is playing a virtual show as part of the Maine Women’s Lobby event to kick off the 130th Legislative session on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 6 p.m. It will be happening live on the Maine Women’s Lobby Facebook page.

The band will be playing for about 45 minutes, and the set will surely include “Safe Word.” The event will also feature guest speakers Quinn Gormley from ME Transnet and activist and political organizer Betsy Sweet talking about bills and issues before the Legislature this year. Participants will be able to ask questions and share concerns and hopes. They’ll also be able to virtually cheer on a rip-roaring performance from Bait Bag. I know I will be.

Comments are not available on this story.