FemFest V in your faces
By: Katei Cranford
FemFest is back with a new round of lady-led bands looking to raise money and awareness against sexual assault and domestic violence on Dec. 8 at Southside Beer Garden and Monstercade in Winston-Salem.
GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS! So the showbill goes. But they aren’t here for your gaze, rather for the cash and a good cause with proceeds going directly to the local women’s shelter via Winston-Salem Family Services.
The line-up features local and touring acts, each with a strong female presence, ranging from a series of singer-songwriters at Southside Beer Garden to psych bands all the way from Florida at Monstercade.
“It’s so great that bands from other states are eager to headline a public resistance against domestic violence and sexual assault,” said FemFest founder Bryn Fox.
“So much has changed culturally in the last five years that I’ve second-guessed the event name fearing it wouldn’t be thought of as non-all inclusive,“ Fox noted of the bill and general atmosphere regarding the topic.
The landscape and conversations surrounding sexual assault have indeed changed since the first FemFest in 2014.
“I’ve chosen to continue to use FemFest, though, because it started as a small showcase of music as an outlet for women who were otherwise trapped in fear, and I’m proud of every evolving step since then,” she said.
“We’re extremely proud to host such an important cause, and welcome all of those who support victims’ rights,” said Carlos Bocanegra, owner and operator of Monstercade.
“Bryn has done an amazing job with putting FemFest together all these years, which is a testament to her beautiful heart,” he added. “The voices of the abused and disenfranchised can once again be empowered with this event.”
Fox reciprocated the appreciation. “The entire staff at Monstercade has been like family to me over the past few years, and they’ve proved to be the most admirable venue by hosting this year,” she said.
Earlier plans hinted at a bigger blowout at The Ramkat, but FemFest V will see more intimate stages split amongst two venues with a singer-songwriter series at Southside Beer Garden starting at 3:30 p.m. A genre-bending bill kicks off at 3 p.m. with Damiyana at Monstercade.
“As I’m currently coming to terms with my own personal history as a victim of sexual assault, performing at FemFest is perfect timing for me,” said Damiyana, an Earth-inspired performer who melds music and design.
“I’ll be premiering some new material at this show that puts me outside of my comfort zone, but in a way that I think will be formative for my own process of healing,” she added, “I hope it will do the same for others!”
Stevie, a three-piece band with members who’ve been involved with each FemFest thus far, feels a similar calling. “We need to protect each other and uplift brave survivors who’ve made the choice to leave dangerous and abusive relationships,” they said.
For Stevie, “FemFest is one way for us to use our limited platform to give back to our community.”
“It’s a celebration of friendship and music where we get to raise our collective voice that demands we draw attention to continued injustices and horrors of domestic violence and abuse,” they said.
“We also get to trade tips on fashion, gear and compliment each other. It’s about empowerment, music and solidarity. FemFest is our favorite time of year.”
On lighter notes, FemFest is gals getting together for a good time and a good cause.
“We can’t wait to be surrounded by all this fierce femme energy,” said BANGZZ, a Durham punk duo. “We’re so proud to stand next to these musicians and to combine our powers to empower others.”
Reese McHenry, a vocal powerhouse from the Triangle echoed the excitement, “this is the fifth anniversary of this seriously important work, and we’re all honored to be a part of it!”
As for bands from the road, the Florida-based Pleasures crafted a tour around making an appearance. “We’re looking forward to it very much and stoked that our tour buddies CHEW got a slot too,” said member Katherine Kelly.
CHEW, a band of psychedelic craziness from Atlanta, beckoned crowds to “come play bbs,” and reinforced the earliness of their 5 p.m. slot.
At the end of the day, Fox is most proud of any voices that “finally feel heard.”
Hear them for yourself at FemFest V at Southside Beer Garden (2108 S. Broad St.) and Monstercade (204 W. Acadia Ave.) on Saturday in Winston-Salem.
Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd who enjoys seeing her friends come home for the holidays and the shows that happen as a result. She also hosts the Tuesday Tour Report, a radio show that runs like a mixtape of bands playing NC the following week, 5-7 p.m. on WUAG 103.1 FM.