We’ve been on it many times in the last few years and frankly it bears repeating; there are still not enough non-male artists being booked for festival lineups. When 25% is the median percentage for the major international players and our own heavyweights, it comes as no surprise that more and more unimpressed local music lovers are taking it upon themselves to create their own events with amazing all non-male lineups. We’ve already had some damn fine one day festivals in Melbourne this year with the likes of YWCA’s fundraising mammoth Rack Off! Fest and the celebration of Trans and Gender Non Conforming artists with Euphorian Dreams and April’s Transgenre – and now we’ve got this year’s instalment of Sad Grrrls Fest to look forward to.
What started last year as a two day celebration of non-male acts in Sydney with the likes of Stellar Addiction, Missing Children and Being Jane Lane Sad Grrrls Fest has expanded to two weekends in 2016. Taking place in both Melbourne and Sydney, each event boasts its own locally minded lineup already highlighting the wide scope of varied non-male talent within these two cities alone.
Jaala, Jess Ribeiro and Camp Cope will headline the Melbourne festival at The Reverence Hotel on Saturday October 1st, while Le Pie, Coda Conduct and Twin Caverns will lead the day in Sydney at The Factory Floor the following weekend.
Event organiser and founder of Sad Grrrls Club, the DIY record label and booking agency behind the festival, Rachel Maria Cox recently penned an article on F is for Feminism on the reasons why feminist music events are necessary. One of the most obvious and discussed reasons is the need to increase the exposure and booking opportunities for non-male acts within an industry that regularly peddles much of the same. But it’s also about the audience, providing not only safe live environments but also to give them inspiring performers that they can relate to.
“Lack of diversity in all kinds of media is most visible to those who are not represented, because when we watch people perform, we look for things we can relate to and people like us. If you are, say, a young girl with an interest in hardcore and metal music, for example, you will very quickly notice a lack of women in bands of those genres. If you can’t find people like you in the community, you internalise the notion that you don’t belong in that community. And if you’re never seeing women on the stage, you accept that women don’t belong in bands.”
As I said when touching on this same idea when discussing Soundwave and its inability to book anything outside the same bands every few years, when you constantly exclude women and non-binary acts in favour of the same old stuff, your telling your non-male audience members that they aren’t worth the inclusion. You are depriving those audience members of feeling like there is a place for them and it’s the same for any genre of music. Continue to heavily exclude or downplay the achievements of women and non-binary musicians and you will create an environment where people only expect to see men, because that’s all they’ve ever seen.
And while it stings a little to realise we still have to highlight the fact that Sad Grrrls Fest and others of the like are ‘Feminist’ shows (because we’re always calling all male bands ‘boy bands’ aren’t we) it’s also comforting and exciting to see so many of these celebrations coming forward with such enthusiasm and determination. With the discussion of gender equality within the music community so prominent these days, to see such amazing and diverse musical acts come together like this makes me even more excited for what the future can hold.
UPDATE: The Sad Grrrls Fest line up has expanded with the addition of Melbourne artist Alex Lahey and Adelaide’s Rin McArdie to the Melbourne instalment of the festival at The Reverence Hotel on October 1st. Lahey will be taking the place of DJ and producer Beatrice, who has withdrawn from the festival due to being accepted into the Red Bull Music Academy in Canada. The festival has also opened applications for local small business to hold market stall at the festival.
MORE UPDATES: Sad Grrrls Fest 2016 have got the details on the curated market stalls that will be lining the walls for this year’s events. In Melbourne, stalls will be held by LISTEN, Girls Rock! Melbourne, Jewellery by Snacks, Prani and Crafts & Rec, zines by Orenda Magazine and Sensitive Adult Daily and artworks for sale by Draw by Four. In Sydney Crafts & Rec will be joined by Cat and The Crow, Stern Face, zines by Subbed In and jewellery by Haus Of Dizzy.
Not only that but the festival has also announced a special sideshow event in Newcastle on October 6th featuring Sydney’s BANDINTEXAS and local bands Hey Lady!, Jen Buxton & The Slaughterhouse Five, Codi Kaye and Aitah. It’s also free!
Sad Grrrls Fest Newcastle Sideshow
Thursday October 6th at The Hamilton Station Hotel, Islington
Jen Buxton &The Slaughterhouse Five
Sad Grrrls Fest Melbourne
Saturday October 1st at The Reverence Hotel Footscray
Sad Grrrls Fest Sydney
Saturday October 8th at The Factory Floor Marrickville