Bob Oram reports on a hugely successful festival of female music “We are family,” sing the joyous 40-strong all-women LIPS choir and their excellent band as they kick off proceedings at the Loud Women Fest at T.Chances in north London. Looking and sounding stunning, that sentiment of solidarity sums up what follows in this one-dayer rammed with 25 stand-out female solo artists and groups.
Dolls' blistering drum-and-guitar grunge punk and strong tunes sound incredible and Jade and Bel should be enormous stars, while Argonaut's spacey, riff-laden set showcases Lorna’s awesome vocals on both old and really strong new tunes.
This is Viva Zapata's second-to-last ever gig and it's an emotional farewell to their spiky and spirited feminist post-punk sounds, hard-hitting political punksters Fight Rosa Fight are infectious and deliver a thrilling set, while Petrol Girls live up to their incendiary name.This is jaw-droppingly good post-hardcore and vocalist Ren Aldridge is electric. Singing about consent she is totally breathless at the end as she screams :“Touch me again and I’ll fucking kill you.” I believe her.
Dream Nails are blessed with musical talent and Anya’s guitar playing is the perfect foil for Janey’s piercing vocals. The excellent rhythm section give their songs a catchy, danceable vibe and they play perfect homage to Bikini Kill with their standout cover of Rebel Girl. The Franklys excel live and their fast-paced garage rock with heavy overtones showcases some strong tunes and lyrics. Fierce Panda stars Desperate Journalist beguile with a great guitar set that is perfect for Jo Bevan’s lovely voice.
The Wimmim’s Institute never fail to deliver and their catchy tunes, laced with wicked humour and righteous fury, showcase a wealth of riot grrrl talent and feminist musicianship. Elsewhere, electro-acoustic duo Greenness from Brighton are a revelation, with Cess’s awesome voice superbly complemented by Graham’s distinctive guitar work. As ever Grace Petrie brings banter, charisma and passion into a show infused with a political message through great songs and Maddy Carty's beautiful voice delivers her classic numbers in a relaxed and joyful set.
The incredible Lilith Ai is a London singer-songwriter who, if this this showcase set is anything to go by, should be massive. Her raw, intimate vocals and guitar reveal a talent that has to be seen now. Likewise the incredible Madame So, a French-born Cameroonian whose band blasts out original, edgy and intelligent indie pop.
An audience member stops in their tracks when they hear Nia Wyn. Her voice has an effortless intensity and combined with her guitar creates a totally unique sound. The Ethical Debating Society take no prisoners with an intense set of raw beauty and power and Fightmilk thrill as Lily sweats and swears her way through a glorious set of loud punky pop. The huge talent that is Louise Distras is exceptional solo but, playing with her excellent band, the power and intensity of her personal and political songs has an even greater impact.
An extraordinary day. The organisers' imaginative promotion of women's music deserves ongoing support for what's an incredibly good value for money day – and night — out.