Grrrl, Inturrupted

It’s Ladies First This Season

Boy bands are so over. And I'm not just talking about pop tarts like 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. I'm talking about boy punk bands, boy metal bands, boy ska bands, boy indie bands, boy hip-hop crews, boy DJ teams, and boy conceptual art-rock collectives. Snooze. Bo-ring. So last century. This fall, it's all about the pussy. Hot, tight, sweaty, wailing, sighing, singing, rapping, swearing, testifying, bottom-heavy, guitar-slinging, amp-clipping, beat-keeping, balls-to-the-wall pussy. That's right; our city's about to be overrun by girl musicians, so trash those silly old prejudices and get ready to pump up the volume.

Things start off with a bang this very weekend when "Ladyfest East" (September 6-9, various venues), a four-day nonprofit rock 'n' roll ('n' art, 'n' politics) estrogenanza, invades downtown Manhattan. The last—for now—of four successful Ladyfests that have shaken things up the world over in the past year, this event showcases primarily local and East Coast sisters. Highlights include Ari Up (Brownies, September 8), former lead singers of punk foremothers the Slits; Sarah Jones (Knitting Factory, September 7), the vocalist-performance artist whose song "Your Revolution," a feminist attack on hip-hop misogyny, was recently censored on college radio by the FCC, sparking the latest free-speech crusade; underground hip-hop collective the Anomalies (Knitting Factory, September 8); hardcore duo the Haggard (Knitting Factory, September 8); and multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Marilyn McNeal (CB's Gallery, September 6). Inspiration is expected to strike with a series of workshops on topics such as starting your own record label, pirate radio station, zine, or Web site; becoming a DJ; learning to play an instrument; and writing songs.

As if all that wasn't exhausting enough, less than a week after Ladyfest comes the annual scenester endurance test (and meat market) known as the CMJ Music Marathon (September 13-16, various venues). Thedouble-X chromosomes are out in full force this year as usual, offering further evidence toward my not-so-groundbreaking theory that college-radio nerds get turned on by foxes with guitars. Were said nerds to actually listen to said foxes' music, they'd find that Stereo Total (Knitting Factory, September 14) and Aterciopelados (Roxy, September, 13) play joyful pop-rock so buoyant that it doesn't matter if you don't understand the language they're singing in. They would also discover that Japanese trio eX-Girl's lyrics about froggies and fairies make no sense in any language, and neither does their beautifully damaged psychedelic noise, but as soon as Kirilo, Fuzuki, and Chihiro hit the Knitting Factory stage on September 14 in their handmade dresses and rubber wigs, it will all come together seamlessly. Skinny white butts get kicked by the commanding presences of genre-bending MC Princess Superstar (Makor, September 15) and heavy-metal toughies Bottom (Continental, September 14), while the high-energy hooks of Ultrababyfat (Continental, September 15) lure those reluctant booties out onto the dancefloor. But when dreamy sonic hypnotists Slumber Party share a bill with loud, fast, fun labelmates the Bangs (who play at Brownies for Ladyfest on September 8) at the girl-positive record label Kill Rock Stars' showcase at North Six in Brooklyn on September 15, the love should be flowing so freely everybody will forget about trying to get into everybody else's pants.

Japanese trio Ex-Girl take over the Knitting Factory.
courtesy Fly PR
Japanese trio Ex-Girl take over the Knitting Factory.

Ain't nobody mortal gonna get in the pants of the three big-name cult goddesses coming to town for some of the hottest tickets this season (and, no, I don't mean Destiny's Child at the Michael Jackson tribute concert, although good luck gettin' some of that). If you missed force of nature PJ Harvey at the Hammerstein ballroom last week, don't worry: Two of her soul sisters will be along shortly. Björk kicks off her American tour in support of her latest oddball masterpiece Vespertine on October 4 and 5 at Radio City. Hopefully the walls of this hallowed venue won't melt from the power of the Icelandic pixie genius's spine-tingling voice. And if the rumors are true, when Tori Amos takes over the Beacon Theater on October 9, she'll be solo at the piano in New York for the first time in seven years. (Thank goodness, those Full Band Big Rock Tori tours kind of blew.)

If you consider PJ, Björk, and Tori to be too "mainstream"—or you just didn't snag tickets fast enough—there are plenty of alternative divas to choose from. Garage rock queen Holly Golightly plays once during CMJ with the Fleshtones (CBGB, September 15) and again at the Mercury Lounge on September 29. Avant-gardemother Laurie Anderson weirds out Town Hall on September 19-20; former Letters to Cleo frontwoman (and the voice behind the Josie and the Pussycats movie soundtrack!!) Kay Hanley meows at the Mercury Lounge on September 20; and Vee, the female half of the quarreling r&b couple Koffee Brown, dukes it out with partner Fonz at the Beacon Theater on September 8, which is also where Cape Verdean morna singer Césaria Évora appears on November 9. And don't forget about the "Sisters in the Spirit Festival" (Madison Square Garden, October 6), featuring Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams, Shirley Caesar, and Virtue, whose electrifying voices will probably be able to be heard all the way in Queens, if not up to high heaven.

Praise the Lord, bring on the pussy!

September 7 and 10

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