After a long day of Ladyfesting on Friday (see my coverage of The Shop and Gooski’s), I went back out again on Saturday to catch more music at Cattivo. Both the upstairs and downstairs stages were running, meaning that the music never stopped.
Kicking things off upstairs was traveler Samm Bones. Some of you may be familiar with her, as she lived in the city last year until she got the itch to move on. She alternated between banjo and keyboard for her songs, and took a break in the middle to read a passage from her travel memoir, “Heavy Metal Meditations.”
That title is a fitting description for her music: it really does sound like metal played on a banjo or keys; heavy, aggressive, and dark. Her gritty voice mixed perfectly with the sound to create a haunting effect. In addition to talking about her travels, Samm also spoke a bit before her song “Walking Wreck” about helping those with addiction in the community. You can find Samm’s music and her book on her Bandcamp.
First to grace the downstairs stage was Working Breed. This self-described “art rock quartet” was missing a couple of members and instead performed an acoustic set as a duo. However, if this is what they sounded like with two people, I can’t wait to hear them as a four piece. Vocalist Erika J. C. Laing alternated between the trombone and musical saw (!!!), while being supported on guitar by Mike Dugan.
Even with only two people, their sound was still rich. Erika’s voice was absolutely gorgeous and Mike would join in occasionally to harmonize. And, honestly, itʻs hard to beat a musical saw, especially when used to mimic the sound of a Cicada in the video below. Working Breed’s next show is tomorrow, Friday 6/30 at Olive or Twist. You can check out their EP METHOD:Observation on Bandcamp.
I rushed back upstairs to catch The Telephone Line, a band I had been wanting to see for quite some time. I had heard vocalist Addi Twigg performing with cover band Photo Joe and the Negatives and was absolutely blown away by her voice. I was clearly not the only one: shortly after posting a clip of The Telephone Line on the Punksburgh Instagram account, I received a message from a follower: “Her voice!!! 😍”
So, yeah, Addi is amazing and the rest of the band ain’t shabby either. Their sound is a mix of pop, rock, and soul with a funk vibe thrown in too. The result is absolutely fun and catchy. See The Telephone Line performing next Wednesday 7/5 at Buhl Community Park (by The Childrenʻs Museum) as part of the Solar Concert Series. Make sure you also listen to their album Tied Up.
Iʻll admit it: I had absolutely no idea what to expect from Other Girls. The brainchild of Gene H. Thompson, Other Girls is a mix of performance art and interpretive dance, performed with elaborate fabric sculptures. The result was both intriguing and fascinating. Thereʻs no point in me trying to describe it; just check out the video.
Garter Shake is a relatively new group, having just played their first show in February, but you may have seen its members performing in other local bands such as The Park Plan, LoFi Delphi, Action Camp, The Freshes, and Olympic Village. Their music is incredibly catchy poppy rock and was so much fun. One of my favorites of the night for sure.
Their music fit the theme of Ladyfest perfectly; they performed a new song “Tell Me More” about mansplaining and finished their set with a cover of Tacocat‘s menstruation-themed “Crimson Wave.” [side note: I was not aware of this band and love Garter Shake for introducing them to me]
Going back to genres I’m not super familiar with, producer, rapper, and singer Iris Creamer was up next. Coming all the way from Rhode Island to perform, Creamer put on a hip-hop set that oozed with feminine strength as seen below in “It’s Always Sunny in Vagina.” Another song “Pink Pistol” was about standing up to a man who had wronged her.
Later on in the set Creamer asked for audience participation in a call and response; the crowd was more than happy to comply. Creamer’s voice flowed well with her beats and her lyrics were on point; it was a great performance. You can check out more of Creamer’s music on Soundcloud.
By the time Brazilian Wax took the stage the crowd was really filling in; for good reason, as these ladies absolutely killed it with their riot grrrl punk rock. People were dancing the second the music started; when they broke into “Grrrls to the Front” everyone went insane. A cover of Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon” was received similarly.
In addition to playing, bassist Athena Kazuhiro was responsible for emceeing the evening and can also be credited with starting Ladyfest in Pittsburgh, while guitarist Jen Sabol was one of the organizers of Ladyfest (so much thanks to both of you!). If you haven’t heard Brazilian Wax, check out their albums on Bandcamp.
I headed back downstairs after their performance, sure that nothing could top their act. I was wrong: Blak Rapp Madusa absolutely stunned the audience with her powerful and intense hip-hop set. Not shying away from politics, she frankly addressed social issues such as mass incarceration and racism in the community with her lyrics.
She was also joined by singer Jacquea Mae for some songs, including one based on The Animals’ “Donʻt Let Me Be Misunderstood.” The result was entrancing and filled with emotion; the packed crowd couldn’t get enough. Find Madusa’s music on Soundcloud, and don’t pass up a chance to see her.
Finishing out the evening for me was Murder For Girls. I was already exhausted by this point (so much so that I forgot to take a picture), but they’re always so solid, I just had to stick around. Their set was fantastic as usual and they threw in a handful of new songs, such as “Christina Ricci.” They recorded a new album earlier this year, so be on the lookout for that release; while youʻre waiting, check out their previous album All The Wishes. Murder For Girls’ next show is Saturday, July 15th at the Deutschtown Music Festival. Theyʻll be playing at 9pm at Allegheny City Brewing — donʻt miss it!
Finally, I want to offer my thanks to everyone that was involved in organizing this event. Iʻm sure it was a massive undertaking, but it’s so wonderful to be able to see so many women musicians kicking ass. I also love festivals like this for getting me out of my comfort zone; I go to a ton of shows, but I often end up seeing many of the same bands over and over again. I came away from this weekend with a number of new favorites in genres I donʻt typically get out to see. More importantly, Ladyfest weekend resulted in $3,015 being donated to the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. Itʻs so incredible to see the community coming together for such a wonderful cause. Thanks again to all the organizers, performers, and everyone who came out. See you at a show!