I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of live music this year, significantly more than in recent years. 2016 seems to have been the Year of Music because I cannot count the amount of banger singles, album drops, tours and general awesomeness that has been produced by musicians worldwide and just last night I was joking how I’m sending myself bankrupt because every time a new concert is announced I just can’t say no. In the busiest year of my life so far, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time in queues outside venues and sneaking into the house well past midnight – rolling up to placement totally exhausted but elated the following day. Here’s to an equally bountiful 2017.
In particular though, I’m totally buzzed by the music being created by Australian women right now.
I’ve been a self fashioned music person~ since I was all of 14 years old and wore my best skinny jeans to see Fall Out Boy playing at Rod Laver Arena; and proudly profess to have a broad and varied catalogue of artists of whom I consider myself a fan. That said, I’ve often noted in passing that women were very under represented in my collection. Due in part to the pop punk leanings of my formative years, and my aversion to actual pop until I was 19 (yeah I was one of those), I turned a blind eye and said like so many others, “it’s not that I don’t like female music, they’re just not THERE”. But oh boy was I wrong. They’re here.
Not only are ladies gaining a strong foothold in the Aus Music Scene (and in my Spotify rotation) but they are raising the bar and improving the game.
In the last month alone I’ve been witness to killer sets from Alex Lahey, Woodes, Bec Sandridge, Montaigne, Ali Barter, The Jezabels, Bel, Alice Ivy and E^ST, all of whom have surpassed my (pretty high) expectations in terms of live musical prowess, quality of show and general vibes. I’ve also had the good fortune to meet a good portion of these artists after their sets and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I have never felt more appreciated as a music lover. No ego, no pretense, no vibe of wanting to get out of this conversation as soon as possible. Instead, I’ve been able to share (gush) my thanks and well wishes and felt loved in return and in one notable instance, hugged tightly while we both shed a small tear. The same night, I tweeted frantically at an artist to please stick around so I could meet her and she replied “okay!!! Where are you I’ll come find you at the merch desk!”.
Camp Cope and Courtney Barnett are just two examples of artists who have spoken out about the culture of live music which has tended to the violent, drunk, messy and aggressive in recent years (and probably, always). Weekly, new articles supporting this perspective and accompanying movement are published as we’re forced to interrogate ourselves as live music fans. I can’t speak for any experience other than my own but I’ve never felt so positive leaving a venue as I have after seeing any of the aforementioned artists. Maybe I’m comparing these to the heavier concerts I’ve attended in the past but the crowds I’ve experienced have been without violence, aggressive behaviour and provided an all-round better experience.
It’s not just a genre thing though, because I’ve also been at my fair share of concerts of artists across a range of genres, and the crowd vibe is different – somehow competitive and unfriendly as we all stand in a situation which should surely be unifying? As angsty teens we used to talk about how seeing My Chemical Romance perform felt so good because we didn’t feel alone – we felt part of something bigger. Well I’ve found that feeling again. Creating these safe spaces allows young women to find a place that they can go to enjoy their favourite music, dance, sing and not feel judged, harassed or otherwise out of place and wow I didn’t realise I needed it but I really did.
I finally feel a part of music in my city. I do. I feel like that sounds like a weak excuse because I know many women who are an active part of music that doesn’t exclusively feature women and that’s amazing and wonderful but I’ve never quite found my niche there.
Representation matters guys, we knows this, and it warms my heart to see all the young women representing at these shows, potentially being inspired, seeing something they recognise themselves in and going home to create and keep the momentum. These incredible women performing, bring women on tour with them as their supports, who inspire more women to find their voice.