Thrash against the patriarchy
Hey, ladies: “Diversity” is definitely a word that defined Sacramento Ladyfest’s second year.
The fest returned for two nights at Cafe Colonial, with 18 artists dishing all manner of sounds, including prog rock, indie, rap, ’80s new wave and, of course, feminist punk. Lots of feminist punk. Bands showed up from as far as Australia, Miami, the Bay Area and Los Angeles to join in the annual dissing of the patriarchy.
And people came. Cafe Colonial saw sizable crowds Friday and near capacity numbers on Saturday, somewhere in the avenue of 60 to 70 people filling every conceivable corner of the place. Both onstage and off, faces representing an array of skin colors, genders, sexualities and ages made the place feel vibrant and welcoming.
Local rapper and deejay duo, Katmonkeys, opened the show with a sound they describe as stream-of-consciousness propaganda. Some takeaways from their set: live free and fuck Donald Trump.
Talks of Spacewalker’s Friday set were heard at the bar the next day. The one-woman-band’s musical monologue required both eyes and ears, her sound a combination of soulful vocal tones over electric jams produced live on her iPad and keys.
While night one’s audience was mostly chilled out, night two’s crowd encouraged friendly violence. Singer Camilamaria Alvarez gave the nonverbal cue during her band Period Bomb’s set, thrashing through the crowd seconds into the first song and opening a large pit.
L.A.’s Trap Girl showed off some of the rudest punk I’ve ever seen, fronted by a brash trans diva who made the stage belong to her and wooed the audience with her poise. Night two closed with the proggy harmonies of Oakland band Queen Crescent, where delightful doom riffs and dueling flute and guitar solos ensued.
Folks looking for a break from the music weren’t short of options. Attendees could get crafty with a button station outside, learn about empathy through the fest’s locally curated zine or make some new friends over Mario Kart.
While Cafe Colonial became a conduit for sick music, Ladyfest also transformed the venue into a safe space. Artists talked about coming out, going to Pride and the Orlando massacre. Keyko Torres, who hosted the fest, warmly reminded everyone that she and the staff were there if they needed anything.
Ladyfest was a defiant celebration of open spaces. If you were there, you saw a large community not only undeterred by mass shooters and intolerance, but moving forward instead. What better way to overcome the sexists than moshing to bands like Destroy Boys?
Summertime return: With tight vocal harmonies and sleigh bells, Sacramento’s Sunmonks perked up a Sunday night crowd inside the spacious and stark Red Museum. The Delta breeze snuck in from an open back door, cooling off the audience as a few danced in sporty sandals. Pink light washed over the band, casting a dynamic silhouette of the drummer’s bouncy ponytail.
After touring the length of the West Coast this past winter, the pop-rock band of soaring melodies and uplifting beats had their first hometown performance since all those travels. The show was more stripped down than their baroque recordings.
Bit by bit, the band is previewing its full-length debut album to its subscriber list, which you probably want to join. On Sunday, they played the title track off their latest two-track EP, Summertime Hi, which dropped in May, with a mysterious and winding intro and a heartwarming chorus. The minimal instrumentation made it clear: This band knows how to write songs with strong backbones.
Local pride swelled in the room, and despite how on-point all the instrumentalists were, they didn’t steal the show from Geoffrey CK and Alexandra Steele. CK bellowed with the rich oakiness of Robin Pecknold, while Steele’s upper registers are crisp and emotionally cutting, like Johanna Söderberg of First Aid Kit. Their harmonies swirled around each other in complex rhythms and melodic twists.
When CK forgot lyrics, he motioned for Steele to come closer. Singing inches apart, the world-class performers were just being themselves in their own backyard.