I was expecting punk rock, I was expecting mosh pits, I was expecting politics. I wasn’t expecting the grand unveiling of an underground I never knew existed and a swirling mass of gender fluidity.
I arrived just as Art Trip and the Static Sound kicked off the festival. Aces. Nothing could have set the scene better than the lead singer, piercings coating her face, screaming, “I want to kill your negative energy!”, except maybe when she ran through the crowd forcing the front row to join her in singing ‘Feminine Hygiene’.
Everything here is about messing up any assumptions of gender, what a band should look like, or indeed sing about. I’m ready.
Jemma Freeman (Jemma Freeman and the Cosmic Something) took to the stage in full-blown drag, facial hair included. They make quite a sight, leaping across the stage as ‘Someone Else To Blame’ fills the room. Being lucky enough to catch up with Jemma after the show I asked if the drag was usual “It’s a recent thing but it’s becoming more common,” they said. Let’s hope so.
Many bands used their platform to raise awareness for issues close to their hearts. Irish rockers Sister Ghost deserve mention for, not only a brilliant set but also for talking about the Irish abortion ban and all the work Alliance for Choice are doing to fight back. Some issues we may not be as clued up on here in England, I know I wasn’t. Then there were the more in your face acts, the acts who want to cause discomfort to make their point, act like Zand, who took to the stage in a mask scrawled with “”You asked for it”, “Bitch”, “Whore” to name a few.
From the moment they came to the stage Zand instilled a sense of paranoia, a sense of unease and, most of all, that are pissed about patriarchy. It’s a sentiment expressed by many bands certainly, and many of them got their points across and gave me something to think about but Zand was the first one to drive the point home like a juggernaut. When they finished the set with ‘Boys Like U’ I was left knowing that something is deeply wrong and that mindset permeated the rest of the festival, ameliorating the experience as I felt more able to tap into the more serious points made.
The Baby Seals, hilarious as well as musical. What else could one expect with song titles like ‘Vibrator’? “We all took a month to research for this song… It was tough.” and ‘Yawn Porn’, “We all know how it’s going to end, he’s gonna come on her face! Why not an elbow or a foot? Just change it up a bit!”. Even their fundraising for Bloody Good Period, a charity that provides period supplies to those who can’t afford them such as asylum seekers and refugees, struck a chord with me and I’ve never had a period in my life! If you want to help then buy their song, Period Drama, as all the proceeds go to Bloody Good Period!
It was at about this point the news dropped that headliners, Petrol Girls, were unable to make it but disappointment was short-lived, as Pussyliquor took to the stage in a blaze of energy, stirring up the greatest mosh pit yet as they shouted out the lyrics to ‘Pretty Good For a Girl!’
When the live music was over and done with a DJ took over for the after party. I, unfortunately, had to leave without having time to sample it so, in lieu of a finale here are some quotes which best sum up the whole event…
“Just say VAGINA!” Art Trip and the Static Sound
“We hope Weinstein rots in jail.” Drunken Butterfly
“This is a song about being queer in Summer… And now I guess about being queer in Autumn.” Wolfgirl
“Coming on stage in drag is a good way of feeling empowered. Jeff has more fans than Jemma, I’m jealous.” Jemma Freeman
“Look what my vagina made, I’m like Picasso!” The Baby Seals
“The world is pretty fucked up, I don’t know if you’ve noticed? What we need is more empathy. If someone is giving you shit call them out on it but remember, inside every person is a brain and they have their own shit going on.”
It wouldn’t be right to leave without mentioning the woman responsible for the whole event, Cassie Fox…
“7 inches of purple beauty!” Cassie Fox (organiser) Loud Women
I’ll see you next year.
Feature pic: Art Trip and the Static Sound, Melodie Holliday photographed @ Loud Women by James Hamick 2018 66james99.blogspot.com