Earlier today I read this rather excellent article about NME front cover stars, on Annie Gardner’s Hysterical Injury blog. >you can read it here.<
It really made me think. I kind of immediately wanted to defend the NME (god knows why, I fell out of love about a decade ago), yet after reading posts and comments from others, I came to the conclusion that the NME certainly plays it’s part in a larger problem.
I took a look at my own past shows. I haven’t ever consciously booked shows based on the gender of band members. I’ve always based it, either on my love for their music, love for the people in the band or because we’ve had a hot tip that the live show is worth watching. I could see however, that chaps do overwhelmingly outnumber the ladies in terms of live performers. This is in my experience, and is by no means a reflection of how the wider scene really is.
It took me until well into my 9th year to have an all girl line up. (featuring She Makes War, Josie Ghost, lucii Brown and Tamsin Whinton) I distinctly remember at the time that I was applauded for “finally breaking that duck”. I didn’t consciously take any praise, or feel better for it. And nor should I.
Going out of my way to book an all girl show, would of been derogatory. It would be like pointing out the fact that, actually, girls can play music too, or what ever. By drawing attention to it, I feel would have been the wrong way to go about it. The fact the show happened naturally, without any consideration actually fills me with achievement.
I remember that show being fantastic too, because of the acts. Nothing more or less. If bands, regardless of their gender set up, are good enough to perform, I’ve booked them. Looking back we’ve had a regular slew of ladies with guitars / keyboards, bassists what ever.
I’ve recently been talking to someone who has greatly explained feminism to me. I appreciate the argument so much better now. There’s still clearly an issue of gender in music, and the wider publicised media, as highlighted by Annie’s installation.
So, my previous 8 years? Well I’ve done my bit for the opposite sex, if anything really needed doing. Turns out people will always make music, and that’ll include grrls. Whether or not the act makes the front cover of the NME won’t make any of the music less rewarding. The NME is guilty of not promoting and publishing more female acts as it’s cover stars, but I can’t help but feel perhaps they are in turn influenced by major labels and “the man”. We may put a lot of stock in their opinion as they’re front line news, but maybe it’s the majors behind them that are actually culpable?
Here’s a lady in rock, whose live show, really turned me onto her music. Melissa Auf De Maur performed in Hole and Smashing Pumkpins, both I never really bothered with. I loved her first solo record and this single off the subsiquent album. AND I’m pretty sure Melissa made the cover of Rock Sound too. Not well done them, more, they were doing their job, right?
Hysterical Injury played The Bell in Devizes last year, along with Crash & The Coots, featuring female bassists and drummers respectivley. It too was a cool show. I don’t appear to have any more lady head liners this year, but plenty of lady performers on bills. Keep the scene alive. Vote with your Feet. Good music needs to be heard.