The rock band Pink Awful’s next two shows are both benefit concerts. The first is the two-night Marianarchy Winter Ball, the long-running annual charity concert that helps raise medical funds for local musicians. Pink Awful will appear alongside some of the city’s other top rock acts, including Pushbox, Alphabet Cult, Weapons of Mass Creation, and Betty Rocker.
The second is A Night of Solidarity at the Holland Project. This concert was organized in the wake of the election, and the concert organizers hope to provide some solidarity and a sense of community for all the people who, for one reason or another, feel endangered by the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. This includes Latinos, Muslims, LGBT+ and women. Proceeds will be donated to Our Center, a local nonprofit that helps LGBT+ youth.
“Honestly, I think everyone was completely stressed out about the election,” said Emily Dunster, Pink Awful’s bassist. “It’s not just because it’s somebody who’s against my regular beliefs got elected, but because of everything that went along with that. I’m gay, and every cabinet member so far, I think, has been really anti-LGBT. So, I think it’s really important to look at people around you and find faces that are different than yours—backgrounds and everything different from you—and think about how they’re going to be impacted, and help support them.”
At her day job, Dunster works alongside several Trump supporters.
“I know that, despite voting for Trump, they don’t hate me,” she said. “But I don’t know if they thought about what impact that would have on other people. I don’t want to walk around saying, ’Fuck everyone who voted for Trump.’ That doesn’t feel right because I don’t want to alienate people who might be allies.”
“Community is important right now,” said Ashley Costelloe, Pink Awful’s vocalist. “Sharing a space with people and understanding diversity, and people feeling safe and coming together for that. Not just yelling and screaming and being upset, but knowing that other people are on the same page as you.”
Pink Awful’s sound is rooted in now-classic, guitar-oriented ’90s indie rock, bands like the Pixies, Swervedriver, Yo La Tengo and most especially, Sonic Youth. Somewhat surprisingly, given how tight and cohesive the band sounds, Pink Awful came together through a series of Craigslist ads starting last year. In addition to Costelloe and Dunster, the band includes drummer Brendan Dalton, and guitarists Mike Miller and Brennan Paterson.
Miller is the sonic architect who originates most of the song ideas. Paterson is the gearhead who builds his own guitars and coaxes strange sounds and unusual textures from his instruments. The rhythm section of Dunster and Dalton is funkier and bouncier than a lot of rock bands. And whereas a lot of shoegazing indie bands have mumbly singers, Costelloe’s vocals on songs like “Life Rots in Your Hands” and “Your Shoulder” are confident and poised, sometimes a bit like Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney or Mary Timony of Helium.
The band name Pink Awful is taken from a fictional brand of chewing gum in the Soup children’s book series. The group’s sound is thankfully not sickly sweet, but pleasantly sticky.