By pure coincidence, I found myself in the middle of Western Bulldogs heartlands on the night of their grand final victory.
But not for this reason. You wouldn’t have been able to guess it, but Footscray’s Reverence Hotel was playing host to not only a bunch of rowdy fans in their front bar, but was also low-key hosting Australia’s largest female-fronted music festival in its backrooms. The dichotomy could not be starker or strangely comical (although, hey, the Bulldogs do have a female team playing the first official AFL women’s league next year).
So this Saturday night, alongside the celebration of an over 60-year premiership drought being broken, female musicians were also taking the spotlight. Melbourne – a lover of music and AFL alike.
At just over a year old, Sad Grrrls Club, and Sad Grrrls Fest, is a sign of these times. Inspired by other feminist movements Riot Grrrl, Sad Girls y Que and Sad Girl Theory, Sad Grrrls Club is a DIY record label that brings non-male music industry professionals together, in order to promote gender diversity.
In other words, it’s great.
With a pretty spectacular lineup at this year’s Sad Grrrls Fest, it’s a reminder of how lucky we are to have a thriving female music scene in Australia.
2016’s breakthrough act Camp Cope draw the largest crowd of the day. Georgia Maq’s meek interaction with the crowd was no match for her powerhouse voice. Camp Cope’s introspective lyrics and despondent melodies really find a home with their target audience, demonstrated by what seemed like the entire crowd singing along to every one of their songs.
Jess Ribeiro played a banter-heavy, informal set with her band, with her fuzzy indie rock delivering yet another genre to the day. But it was headline act Jaala that really made a statement. By this time of the night, people were lounging on the floor by the front of the stage, but Jaala’s set was no less tight and solid. The quirk factor was also high, from singer Cosima’s (also from Manglewurzel) hair to her outfit to her voice itself. How drummer Maria Moles manages to keep up with all those crazy rhythmic changes is beyond me. Jaala’s music keeps you on your toes, and the sporadic nature of it is a challenge that pays off.
Festivals can occasionally be scary, pretentious, disgusting…and numerous other unappealing qualities. But, as to be expected, the crowd and the staff at Sad Grrrls oozed friendliness and openness. Stay with me here, but in a way, a festival toilet kinda encapsulates a festival itself. Sad Grrrls’ bathrooms had similarly welcoming signage. With no typical male/female indication, they instead stated, “These toilets don’t have urinals, use whichever bathroom makes you feel comfortable”. Sums it up.