The annual noise-fest that is Liverpool’s FestEvol has reared its head once again this year; this time in its new home of the Invisible Wind Factory.
I’ve been to quite a few FestEvol gigs in the past and while there are usually quite a few good bands this year stood out due to its incredibly strong line up of all-female/female-fronted bands.
I still question – should we even be talking in terms of ‘female bands’ these days? Is it an unhelpful label to perpetuate or is it a positive thing that might help encourage more women into music? I’m not sure. But I found this line-up so exciting and refreshing after many years of going to male-band-dominated festivals and gigs, that I’m not going to worry about that for now and just shout about it!
What was so awesome was not just the absolute blast of colour and charisma that my favourite bands of the night brought, but also the inspiring – and at times visceral – lyrics that laced some of their songs. Bands like Anteros, The Orielles and The Big Moon were more of the ‘good times’ variety of band – singing about everything from being drunk on love, to making bad decisions and even the Tarantino film, ‘Death Proof’. But it was PINS and Dream Wife in particular that made you feel like they were striving to get a message across… a message about what it’s like being female in 2017.
These bands are bringing their voices (and ours) into the mainstream and it never sounded sweeter.
My top five inspiring female-fronted bands…
Deep vocals, gloriously sloppy guitars and Hawaiian shirts – what’s not to love about The Big Moon? Single ‘Sucker’ tells a tale of trying to break free from a bad relationship and getting pulled back in – their lyrically wry take on it and the earworm chorus makes it near impossible to resist. Great slacker sounds from a band clearly having the time of their lives on stage.
Hearing a band speak back to you about feelings and experiences you’ve had yourself can be powerful enough to give you chills and this was the case with Dream Wife when their spiky and relentless single ‘Somebody’ kicked in. Acting like a riot grrrrl t-shirt slogan but in music form, singer Rakel uses plastic pop vocals to bring home their razor sharp message: “I am not my body – I am somebody”. Word.
You can tell that they want to defy expectations: “The crowd expects one thing and then we flip the script. We enjoy showing the different faces of a woman.” (Grapevine interview).
They list their role models as Debbie Harry (“She plays with the fantasy of the female image and is the perfect mythological pop icon”), Grimes (“A daring, modern pop artist”) and Kathleen Hanna (“Inspirational DIY queen”). (The Guardian).
They even reference the Spice Girls (“I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want”) in their most visceral song, ‘FUU’ – but that one is more for over-18’s!
The FestEvol crowd were left in no doubt as to what Dream Wife really really want and that’s to be heard and to amplify their experiences, so that the rest of us can say “Yes, that’s me too.”
PINS announce one of their songs as being for “…all the girls in the audience tonight”. They ask them to come forward and for the rest to “…let them through!” Fat power chords blast out as ‘Girls Like Us’ drifts over a sea of damp, multi-coloured hair as many pairs of Vans start to pogo along. I’ve found it’s rare to get that kind of atmosphere outside of female-focused festivals, like LadyFest. Driving, Velvet Underground-like guitars brings in ‘All Hail’ with singer Faith telling us ‘I’ve got a vision, if it’s cool with you. I’m a modern woman, in a modern world’ – let’s hope their vision of a modern woman gets them even more attention.
This band is no nonsense. They are the best kind of power trio – direct and LOUD. Guitarist Henry is totally consumed by his own guitar sound (in a good way!) while singer/bassist Esmé and drummer Sidonie keep everything anchored down with rhythm and guts. Closing single ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’ swerves wildly from swirling 60s psych to The Clash-like tightness and back again – taking us all on a frenetic journey with them. Inspired by Tarantino’s ‘Death Proof’, the band “…like the way it subverted the conventions of Hollywood films. Women get their comeuppance on the male protagonists.” (The Guardian)
No nonsense indeed.
Play it loud: Sugar Tastes Like Salt
Anteros brought a little glamour to the rough and ready outdoor stage at FestEvol and made the most of the tiny stage with their brash, disco-infused sound. Lazy comparisons could be made to Blondie, but I like to think they are less self-conscious than that. I’d class them as a guilty pleasure, with songs like ‘The Beat’ giving us a fun, floor-filling anthem dedicated to being independent – but with a touch of glitter.
Download: The Beat
Written by Lisa Jones