The Babes All Rock Fest took on a full day of kick-ass female-fronted musical projects at Baby’s All Right on Sunday that started in the afternoon and rocked into the early morn. This was a first (and hopefully not last) music festival designed to shine a light on the music being created by women in NYC, and every band on the lineup was led by female-identifying individuals, while 50% of proceeds from the event was donated to the Mount Sinai SAVI Program, which aids survivors of sexual assault, along with 100% of proceeds of the awesomely stacked raffle. That goodie table was stocked like an awesome axe donated by Guitar Center (along with lessons), treats from Suffragette City, a volunteer run community organization and an annual print zine a magazine promoting the creative and intellectual ideas of strong and outspoken self-identified women, along stuff from many bands and artists who were dropping off prize goods throughout the day for stuffed raffle bags. The whole awesome event was put together by Ana Becker (guitarist of Fruit and Flowers) and Tim Race (of the band Big Bliss) and their promotional company Hi Tide, along with lots of logistical and organizational assistance from many extremely thoughtful and heartfelt souls, along with Tell All Your Friends PR, and even Bust and NYLON magazines.
The day started off with Brooklyn’s fully nuclear-warhead, the raw and dirty rockers Treads, who were a big kick in the ass before your first cup of coffee, and was enough to wake you up out of an elephant tranquilizer coma sans-caffeine. The wickedly sloshed band is fronted by the immensely charismatic Emily Madge, who has transferred the project from its previous incarnation of Whiskey Bitches, and is now full-on 1000 proof high-octane rocket fuel. They have a new release in the works, so don’t miss it, as if you possibly could ignore these killers. Next was the Brooklyn quintet Ex-Girlfriends, the local supergroup co-fronted by Sharkmuffin’s Tarra Thiessen and Side Bitch’s Heather Cousins. These bad-asses play lewd, grimy, and sludgy punk that bring on hallucinations of L7, The Donnas, and the Runaways, which is a party that by no means should you avoid, despite the many threats of bodily harm.
Then there is one of my very favorite local bands by the name of Fruit & Flowers. Although I have been following them for years, this years’ new EP Drug Tax has definitely cast a new spell over me. They are a bewitching brew of different elements and genres, from the undulating and enchanting harmonies of 60’s girl groups and bluegrass country hoedowns to sandy and sun-bleached surf rock reverbed charges. This is certainly a band that will entrance, entice, and most of all, rock your world. Then there was Espejismo who are an extensively expansive and exotic mixture of the funky, sensual, artsy, darkly intense, and sweetly inspirational elements. There’s a feeling of smoky lounge-acts slickly slithering over big grand pianos, hot and sweaty techno dance parties, and even fist pumping mosh pits, all of which are impressive mixtures indeed.
Following all that there was Debbie Downer who also bathe in 60’s girl group harmonies and hazy reverb-soaked guitars, while also throwing serious shade at melancholy expectations and the ridiculousness of life and reminds me a lot of bands like Bleached and Best Coast. Their new EP You Know You’re Wrong kicks all sorts of ass and is not at all the bummer their name might suggest. Afterwards, there was some synthier zones explored with Verdigrls, which takes on electro chamber pop that mixes electronic beats and organic elements like violin solos. Formerly known as the band Velveteen, Connecticut’s chamber sisters Anna and Catherine Wolk bring a wistful and ghostly harmony to some darkly personal songs.
After some chilling, it was time to turn up the volume to 1000 for the big and booming power shot that is the Big Quiet. I am a huge fan of this power trio and they never fail to make you wanna stage dive into the rowdiest crowd of punks possible. Likewise, there was another local power trio bruiser that I’ve been following for years by the name of A Deer A Horse, and these shredders turned out to be the surprise standout of the whole rockin’ day. They too have a new EP, and the dark stomp of Backswimmer is hard not to snap a neck head-banging to.
Closing out the night was PRIMA, a very arty, brilliant, and ever-evolving project of the multi-disciplined artist Rose Blanshei. This set was not as rocking as I had expected, instead, it took its ambient time to build and swell to ethereal heights until crashing down on you like a mountain collapsing onto your soul. Rose is captivating and magnificent, and, once again, I can’t help but highly suggest her new EP Performance as once of the best of the year. After the raffle, the party continued into the wee hours of the morning with a dance fest by the very eccentric Combo Chimbita who fuse many forms of Caribbean musical styles from afro-latinx, cumbia, salsa, to classic reggae. As tired as I was at this point, I found it all but impossible to resist dancing my ass off to these renegades of awesome.
At a time when our country and society is finally seeming to address the age-old denigration, subjugation, and horrible abuse of the female gender, and women are now finding the strength and support to stand up against abuse, it is really gratifying to see a show devoted to the ideals of female empowerment in yet another industry and artistic dominated by men, as rock has been a male dominated world for much of its entire existence. The event raised $1800 for SAVI, with the raffle alone raising $450, which is not a shabby haul for any charity performance, and incredibly impressive given the size of the venue and this being the first year of the event. Along with all the money raised, and given the truly awesome giving spirit, happy vibes, and the downright killer lineup, I’d be extremely surprised if this doesn’t become an annual event that rocks as much as it gives.
Article: Dean Keim