ST. PETERSBURG — It’s a Saturday night at The Bends in August, the kind where you could not cram one more sweaty body in the back of the bar. Everyone has shown up early, craning for a glimpse of Spoiled Rat. Until a few songs in, when bassist Summer Strickland decides to come to them.
Summer, 23, has hovered toward the back of the stage until now, plunking away on her synthesizer or strumming a bass covered in glow-in-the-dark stars. But there’s this move she likes to do where she swaps her instrument for a microphone and gets up real close.
An arm’s length away, an auburn-haired woman hollers and claps. Summer’s mom, Stacey. After a few more songs, it’ll be her turn to get onstage with her own punk band. But for now, she’s basking in her daughter’s performance, ready for what’s about to come. After all, Stacey practically made up this move a little under two decades ago.
She whoops extra loud as Summer pushes into the center of the crowd.
“Very, scary, Bloody Mary,” Summer chants, inches away from the wall of faces.
“Ve-ry! Sca-ry! BLOODY MARY!”
Then she hunches over and lets out a bloodcurdling scream.
A ‘Hated Youth’ finds love
This is a story about two women, but it starts with a guy named Gary.
Stacey’s husband. Summer’s dad.
Gary Strickland, now 57, spent the later part of his childhood in Tallahassee, the son of a divorced mom who sang and wrote Christian songs. Painfully shy, he found meaning in music, too — first, in the radio stations that soothed him after his parents’ split, and then as a teenage singer in a hardcore punk band called Hated Youth.
Gary had a double-pierced left ear and was known to sport “a mohawk here and there.” For a few years in the 1980s, Hated Youth performed with both Florida bands like Roach Motel and nationally touring hardcore icons like Minor Threat. Shy guy Gary found himself thrashing and bellowing to release his fury.
After enlisting in the Navy, he joined a string of bands, touring in Asia and recording in Europe. But by the late ‘90s, Gary found himself broke in England, waiting for his next royalty check.
It had been a decade since he’d been home to Tallahassee. When he returned, he met Stacey.
“It was like coming into contact with a long-lost friend,” he said. “We had been to the same gigs.”
As a Tally teen, Stacey had rocked blue hair at Monday night punk shows. When she met Gary years later, she had two kids from a previous relationship and plans to move to Clearwater with her mom.
Gary took a Greyhound bus every weekend to see her. He soon found himself with a job at Countryside Hospital, a home with Stacey that he stuffed with instruments, and a baby girl. Summer.
Summer remembers that she wasn’t allowed to watch R-rated movies, but music was never restricted. Stacey and Gary played their favorite artists constantly: Blondie and Madonna. Joan Jett and the B-52s. People to look up to.
By the time Summer was 7, she was enrolled in music lessons. It started with piano, then she asked to learn guitar.
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“I was like, ‘I don’t want to play ‘Hot Cross Buns,’” Summer said. “‘I want to play Depeche Mode.’”
‘Like getting hit by shrapnel’
On a Saturday night in 2006, Stacey decided she’d had enough of just going to see other people’s shows.
One night at a party at a friend’s apartment, as she sat with her family friends smoking cigarettes, she decided: “We’re going to start a band!”
Teenage family friends Molly Baker and Mandy Quinn would play drums and guitar. Molly’s sister Emi, then in her 20s, would hop on bass. Stacey, who self-identifies, then and now, as “29 forever,” would sing. No one wanted to book a band with their original band name, the Hot Pink Drag Queens, so they settled for Doll Parts.
They practiced almost nightly in the Strickland family’s Florida room, Stacey so bashful that she had to sing facing away from her bandmates. Compared to Gary, who seemed to always be in a new band and had recorded several albums, their aspirations seemed modest. Just one show, they promised themselves.
That first gig was at Tampa’s Pegasus Lounge, a skeevy biker bar known for projecting porn films during karaoke nights.
“I remember being completely terrified,” Stacey said. “Gary said as soon as he saw us play, he was like, ‘They’re going to be busy.’”
Someone asked if Doll Parts could open a show in two weeks at the Emerald Bar in St. Pete. Before the year was over, Doll Parts was added onto a gig at the old State Theatre as local support for the Lower Class Brats and punk legends the Circle Jerks.
“We played, and Keith, who’s the lead singer of the Circle Jerks and had his own radio station and record label in California, was like, ‘I need you to give me a record because I’m gonna go home and spin you… so people can hear about you guys,’” Molly remembered. “It just was surreal.”
Doll Parts learned how to stuff over a dozen tunes in a 30-minute set, short bursts of fast power chords and firecracker drums and rage. Stacey’s signature move: grabbing the mic and marching into the audience, spitting words right into their faces. Stacey nearly always ended the set with a song that borrowed an old Hated Youth lyric.
“My name is God,” she roared. “F--k you!”
“Seeing a Doll Parts show is like getting hit by shrapnel. It’s like someone shot a cannon in my face,” said family friend and Molly’s uncle, Mike McFarland. “It’s exhausting. It’s deafening. That’s what punk is. That’s what Stacey loves.”
Stacey’s aggressive performance style wasn’t just some act. Though Doll Parts quickly grew a devoted fan base — with the ability to pack a room whether they opened or headlined — they faced plenty of misogyny from the macho punks in town.
Guys in the audience screamed out, “Josie and the Pussycats!” One time, a band on the same bill got everyone in the crowd to sit down and cross their arms during Doll Parts’ set.
Doll Parts hurled obscenities at slow-clapping men until they backed down. They wrote songs about the haters, Stacey howling: “Talking s--t/ Don’t know when to quit.”
“We watched a lot of people go outside during our set, and that’s tough to deal with,” Molly said. “Until, you know, they heard us and you watched them walk back in.”
Summer sat in during band practices in the family Florida room. As she filled out multiplication tables from the couch, earplugs in, she watched her mother turn into someone else.
“I could see my mom act, you know, crazy and loud and aggressive, which I never saw. She’s so anxiety-ridden,” Summer said. “I was always like, ‘Wow, my mom can do that.’
“It definitely was subconsciously going into my bloodstream, I’m sure, because I am how I am now.”
Mother and daughter, Jekyll and Hyde
As the years went by, the Doll Parts lineup shifted. Eventually, they slipped into hiatus.
They still played the occasional pop-up show. But new jobs, babies and side projects consumed the band members. They all remained a family, sharing holidays and birthdays at Stacey’s house.
In the meantime, Summer grew up. At 17, she found work at a St. Pete record store and started her first band, Book Club. When she flew to England in 2019 for a USF journalism program, Gary dropped her off. He bought her a cheap acoustic guitar so she wouldn’t be homesick.
“I would play every day for those five months that I was away,” Summer said. “I had so many feelings I had never experienced before… so I was just going to write music.”
The work paid off when Summer got back. Some cool girls who had seen her play in Book Club were looking for a bassist for their St. Pete punk band. The music was heavy, but the lyrics were tender.
Stacey told her: Have fun. But don’t expect to make money or travel in a tour bus.
She wanted to be both supportive and practical. Then came the first Spoiled Rat show in 2022.
Gary and Stacey knew that Summer was going to band practice every week. They had heard her soft indie songs in Book Club. Neither could believe that quiet and polite Summer, the daughter who never cusses, was up in the crowd’s faces, screeching.
Spoiled Rat’s lead singer even threw in the old Hated Youth/ Doll Parts battle cry: “My name is God! F--k you!”
Gary teared up. Stacey took back the warning to Summer. Her daughter, she decided, was going to be famous.
“When she has the confidence to scream when she does her Bloody Mary thing — I mean, really it almost makes me want to cry,” Stacey said.
Mom and dad weren’t the only ones surprised by Summer’s performance.
“I didn’t know she could yell. I didn’t know she could even talk loud,” said McFarland, who has known Summer since she was a day old. “I know she’s taken after her mother and is following in her footsteps. Both of them, it’s Jekyll and Hyde. And they can just turn it on when they get on stage and when they get off stage…they’re back to their regular self.”
It’s been a little over a year since Spoiled Rat’s debut show. They’ve put some music on Spotify and become regular features at dive bars and DIY shows mostly around Florida. The scene is much more welcoming than it was in those early Doll Parts days — for the most part.
“There’s people that go to Spoiled Rat shows where they’re amazed that women can play music. And that women can be loud, and that women can be aggressive or angry,” Summer said. “And I’m just like, ‘Do you guys not know that women have feelings?’”
The more Spoiled Rat played, the more Stacey got excited. It had been years since Doll Parts consistently played gigs.
If she brought the band back, she thought, then she could play shows with Summer.
We’re a happy family
At The Bends that Saturday in August, Stacey has transformed.
This is no longer the doting mom and wife, a professional manager at her medical staffing company. This is a furious punk rock queen, stalking across her stage with a slow march and a mouth full of f-bombs. She is snarling, growling, chanting: “Die! Die! Die!”
The first show back for Doll Parts was earlier this spring. They played a concert, of course, with Spoiled Rat. For one chaotic song, both bands shared the stage. Mother and daughter leaned in face to face, screaming lyrics in unison.
Tucked in the middle of the crowd at The Bends, Gary smiles and mouths the words. His eyes are on his wife, but he’s also trying not to get sucked into the mosh pit behind him. Summer and her boyfriend cackle as they hop and shove to the beat. As the song smashes to a halt, a wave of guitar fuzz announces the next.
Seeing their fury and their joy, it’s hard to believe Doll Parts took a break at all. It’s easy to see where Summer gets it from. Why Stacey returned to her place behind the mic.
Punk rock runs in the family.