October began with the mass killing in Las Vegas. On of the best editorials we saw about it was this:
Concert security is one of my soapboxes. It is the constant struggle of keeping audience members safe without infringing on their rights. Las Vegas took it to another level with the shooter being no where near the venue. It presents a scary new step in terror. We mourn the victims in Las Vegas and hope that this will finally be the last event of its kind.
On an entirely different note, October had us in shows where we couldn’t see the artist. The biggest were Frankie Rose and Hundred Waters. Both decided that a smoke machine is better than a live performance. Hundred Waters was moved from a bigger venue. We heard the crew checked the smoke machine at sound check. They obviously didn’t care that the smoke completely obscured the band. You were lucky to see shadows.
Frankie Rose was a similar situation. Not only did she have a smoke machine going, she also asked that the lights be turned down when she got on stage. She was a black shadow on stage.
Both shows emphasized for us how visual a concert is. As an artist on stage you have a presence to deliver your message. If you hide behind smoke and shadows, you are telling your audience you don’t “want” to see them. On stage you are the master. It is both frightening & empowering to do a live show. The reason you are on stage (and above everyone else) is because you’ve earned it. You’ve proven you can play and perform. I’ve seen shows with amazing light shows that work to amplify the performance. Both of these shows I left early. There was no show to the show only shadows and smoke. Please let your audience see how good you are.
In August we caught the band Scars That Heal in Time. Kayla Smith was wearing a t-shirt that said “NOT THE MERCH GIRL” that had been made by her mother. To me it was an instant recognition of what happens every day. I’ve heard it from tour managers, and artists. They come to a venue and the expectation is that they are “friends of the band”, “groupies”, “the merch girl”, etc….not the band itself. I’ve been hearing stories for years and seeing a band blatantly point it out was wonderful. Personally I think Scars That Heal in Time should have that t-shirt in it’s merch. I know many artists who would wear that shirt.
I view the non recognition of the band “being” the band as sexism pure and simple. No man loading in gear is viewed the same way. A band deserves basic respect when loading in and through the night. If they are professional, the venue should be professional with them. If not, well…those are other stories. Women lugging in their own equipment are not viewed the same way. In some ways it is almost puritan based where a woman isn’t “expected” to do that. It’s 2017. Women are doing more than they were ever “expected” to do. They aren’t “just” the merch girl. They are the band that will kick your ass.
Aisha Badru – She released the single “Mind On Fire” this summer. It is part of the full length album she will be releasing soon as a follow up to her 2015 Vacancy EP. This New York singer songwriter is touring now. https://aishabadru.com/
Zolita’s video is one of empowerment and sisterhoord and reflects the world of post the Womens’ March with the lyrics, “My Body, My Choice, My Rights and My Voice.” Zolita is the not the first artist to “fight like a girl.” We were quickly reminded of others including: