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Women Fuck Shit Up Fest At The Smell, Saturday February 27th 2016 Reviewed

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Batwings Catwings

 

Women Fuck Shit Up Fest, a 2-day music festival at the Smell had for mission to empower women and give them a safe place to create music… does this ring a bell? I am thinking about you Kesha! But I was certainly not in the same world, I was in the punk/noise/experimental world in a DIY all-age venue, for two days of ‘art, poetry, music and feminism’ to benefit Girls Rock Camp Alliance.

More than 20 more or less underground bands performed on Saturday and Sunday evenings, and they were either all-female bands or at least fronted by a woman, and can I say I was quite impressed by the diversity offered? It was not only a punk show, it was an all-genre show, with even spoken words and a real freedom of expression going in all directions.

I arrived when the very young girls of Facing Reality were starting the evening with covers of famous songs, a few originals and I should mention a trumpet. Except for a few punk bullet songs,

Violent Vickie was not violent at all. as she sang with ethereal vocals over recordings of pulsating synth and slow beats during most of her set. Her electronic karaoke with synthetic drops had a rather melancholic to a more aggressive tone with industrial or dark new wave vibe.

The Derolinas were playing their first show ever, with a true punk rock aggression, demonstrating that the punk spirit is well alive among young women… they covered ‘99 Luftballons’, a nice touch when you know this song was released in 1983, a time when these girls were not even projects.

The Unending Thread played a disconcerting and experimental set on a dissonant note, sometimes jazz-oriented with Mike-Watt-style punk escapes and even some funk in the wah-wah pedal. They only had one woman, and she was singing with a very sweet voice contrasting with their breaking apart melodies.

Pink girl Plasmic played alone in the dark behind her keyboard and her disco lights. She had this all-pink school-girl look and a very big Cindy Lauper-ish voice, going into bravado operatic howls over her feisty semi-creepy, semi-pop compositions.

If there was a band to fuck shit up, it was Cunthaus. The four women were quite a scene, in pure aggression mode, bringing back memories of riot grrrl with a complete in-your-face style. Everything about these women was screaming ‘screw anything in the norm’ with an over-the-top attitude and a massive energy as they even started a scary pit in this small place. I can’t really tell what they were talking about but they said their songs were about crushes?

Le Ra, a south-of-the-border band, brought bongo drums and an exotic touch to their garage-y rock. They played in complete darkness, with a moniker evoking the sun god, but they conquered the crowd with a sexy dark-synth slow-burner and so much fuzz I thought they could have been signed by Burger Records.

Cutesy Storeetellers had catchy tempos and the female quartet played their dance-y garage-y pop songs, bringing up a new musical genre called punkpopabilly-taco-core.

There was a brief spoken words/poetry time with Ilana Regalado, then Ramonda Hammer brought back the energy to the roof with their layered pop-grunge and intense stage moves.

It was back to punk anthem revival with Batwings Catwings, and a furious set dominated by their frontwoman and violent throbbing lights. In rebellion-surging mode, she was jumping, screaming and haranguing the crowd over the band’s hardcore punk melodies.

Allison Weiss was last, but despite the late hour, she played an electrifying and dynamic set with punchy pop-punk songs, the right amount of screams and plenty of hooks. Her style got even bolder and more free when she put her guitar down and sang her last song, shaking up the audience, which let itself carried away.

But why do we need such a fest with female bands, I told myself when I left the Smell? Could it be because big festivals like Coachella and other Bonnaroos don’t give them the opportunity they deserve? Co-founder Mayra Cortex explained to the LA Weekly the fest was to foster a safe, welcoming space for women to play music but also ‘to show the side of women [who] destroy and fuck shit up. Other music festivals were featuring female artists, but female artists that do what? We wanted to go for a concept that defied softness.’ And I agree, it’s rare to see this type of bold and aggressive acts at music festivals, just because women, who can truly fuck shit up, are disturbing and never represent the image expected from females. Time to change this, even if it’s done in this small smelly place downtown LA!

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Allison Weiss

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Cunthaus

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Plasmic

 

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Ramonda Hammer

 

More pictures of the fest here.




1 Comment

  1. Dick Destiny on March 2, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Good photos!

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