Last Friday was host to the Ladyfest IE concert at the Blood Orange Infoshop. The sheer volume generated from the event showed the artistic aspirations that Riverside possesses, and certainly ran contrary to the generalized claim that Riverside has nothing to offer. They also made rent, so it was a happy ending for everybody!
According to their website, Ladyfest is a grassroots, do-it-yourself, feminist and queer festival that is celebrated around the world. It often consists of concerts, workshops, vendors, speakers and poetry readings, and they have a tendency to directly connect with their fans in the very communities that festivals are held. This entertainment is worth the time for UCR students who feel as though Riverside never offers enough for them — the down-to-Earth standing of the festival is the type of exciting and in-your-face fun that detractors are missing.
It was appropriate for the night’s music to match the anti-establishment nature of the event. The band Frisco Dykes perfectly went along with that vibe in their five-person band. It was difficult to tell where one song ended and another began, and I could only keep track of their sets via chord changes, which did make a difference. And no matter how loud their vocalist sang, her voice was simply outdone by the rest of her bandmates (their sound might’ve been further amplified by placing their drummer in the corner of the room, where the drums’ acoustics are even stronger). But even so, the loud, raw, bare noise was just what the event needed.
A few of the other bands there were able to produce as much sound as Frisco Dykes with less members and more avant-garde. Bad Bikini was an example of this, with the band only consisting of two members — a guitarist/vocalist and a drummer — yet they mixed a simplified, punk-rock attitude with infectious rockabilly beats into their songs. They got most of the audience to bob their heads in unison with the beat. A few even started dancing when the vocalist, concerned that nodding heads weren’t enough, proclaimed “Come on guys, it’s ok if you dance!” I never would have thought that aggressive power chords and ‘50s-era swing beats could work together, yet Bad Bikini made it work.
Alone was another one of the groups playing at the Ladyfest concert. Alone was similar to Bad Bikini in that they only had two members. However, it could be argued that Alone was even more experimental in that their vocalist played on an amplified acoustic guitar and their drummer played on an incomplete kit: She only had a snare drum, a tom and a ride cymbal, and she usually hit her drum heads with mallets, which are preferable for “Spaceballs”-esque drum rolls. While Bad Bikini lacked the thick, round sound of a bass, Alone didn’t even have the solid, head-banging drum pattern that is essential to the in-your-face style of punk rock. However, they still produced a rather unique sound. Their vocalist’s guitar always created loud feedback (even after he joked “that last song was supposed to be an acoustic ballad”), and the dissonance between the edgy guitar riffs and the soft, understated drum hits created a feeling that was like the overarching atmosphere for the entire Ladyfest concert — that despite all the hatred and unnecessary ruckus occupying the world, there’s still a time and place for peace.
The Ladyfest concert organized by the Blood Orange Infoshop was another great opportunity for Riverside citizens and students to witness the amazing music created by the underground artists that live among us. And the fact that they were able to make their rent goes to show that a Cinderella ending doesn’t just belong to fiction.