Sunday I walked to Lola’s Room and my first-ever Girl Fest NW with a gaggle of friends (3 female, 2 male), and I wondered what the turnout would be like for the female-focused music bill. Since I knew the headliners were promising and well-promoted, I wasn’t too worried. The event ended up having a more than decent male turnout; I feel like the audience ratio was close to equal between the genders. Which isn’t that surprising if you think about it. At first it warmed my heart to see how many men came out to support these female performers. But then really, why wouldn’t they?
The “Free to Form” mannequin series by Lex Casciato was also quite stirring and beautiful. (And this is coming from a person with a slight anxiety about mannequins). Hart & Hare got the show started with a mellow-yet-euphonic set, and then The Last Artful, Dodgr took over.
From Dodgr, I of course enjoyed her energy and deliver, but I also appreciated her candor. A little ways into her set, Dodgr let on that she felt the crowd lacked enthusiasm. “I’m never playing that song ever again,” voiced the EYRST MC.
And she’s not wrong; Often times these mellow (read: high*) Portland crowds need a lot of coaxing out of their shell to actively engage in a live performer’s set. It’s frustrating, and embarrassing, and I wish it would stop. (Welcome to Portland, Dodgr!)
Lots of happy developments from Blossom! First of all, the locks are BOMB. Secondly, there is a super sick nostalgia-inducing 90s beat on the song “My Love’s Coming Atcha.” The track, produced by HOT16 Music, isn’t set to release until summer, but check out this snippet from my Instagram. The melody is infectious. We also got to hear “Sass” straight from the siren’s mouth, and can’t wait for the music video to drop on Wednesday.
It was great to see the ladies rep Portland hip-hop and R&B, because literally…they stole the show. But after going through The Last Artful, Dodgr and half of Blossom’s set, I kind of forgot that the event was founded on a feminist agenda– in a bad way. Luckily, one of Blossom’s “swayers” gave the crowd some context via spoken word.
I loved the messages of strength, confidence, and respect that Janae included in her poem. Relatable, accurate, and sassy AF. It got me to thinking about how sad and messed up it is that female artists need events like this that attempt to level the playing field. Talent, charisma, stage presence, lyricism — you name it. I’ve watched Portland women exude just as much as their male counterparts. Girl Fest NW inspired me to use my voice to promote female professionals and creatives more than I already do. Yes, more of this.
That being said, I’m now a fan of Girl Fest NW and will likely go next year. From what I can tell, Madison Sturdivant has done a great job growing this project. For 2017’s event, I hope Girl Fest will continue to highlight diversity, and also book Mount Joy, my favorite all-Oregon-girl band for the indie-alt slot. (I would describe their music as modern folk for the soulful hipster.)
One day, one of these Cascadia ladies is going to be the one to come up. And I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to say “I was there” and not “I was sleepin.”
Correction: After this post was published, Dodgr clarified that her decision to no longer play a specific song is actually because it won’t be released until later this year. However, while the crowd did liven up considerably after Dodgr took the stage, I still feel Portland crowds need to level-up to the talent.