Among a crumbling corner on the edge of Bushwick and tucked into the backyard of a colorful micro performance space called The Silent Barn, teen feminists with flowered headbands tangled in hanging streamers painted their nails and decorated zines in between bands at GRRRL FEST - a day-long event that celebrated women in music and art.
The all-ages gathering attracted festivalgoers from New Jersey and Connecticut, bringing them together for a day of chatting, bonding, relaxing and jamming.
Early in the afternoon, folk bands like Easy Rollers sang ditties with a DIY feel. Half of the instruments were traditional pieces like an acoustic guitar and a harmonica. Then, the band used a makeshift box string instrument and for bass, rope that was strung from a wooden pole and stretched toward and aluminum bottom. Lead singer Hannah Lee Thompson — a college student at SUNY Purchase — had some serious pipes.
Marina Zero followed, dolled up in dramatic eye makeup with a flower pinned to a curly frock. She began her set with feminist poetry and belted out a catalog of songs including an Etta James cover.
Cachabacha played an electric set with guitar that sounded like Real Estate and vocal harmonies that sounded like Tegan and Sara. The band just released an album on Mulberry Records and will move to Brooklyn soon. Cachabacha was an afternoon highlight at GRRRL FEST.
In the early evening, male bands played - Shemp had a raucous energy and Backup Six did a crowd-favorite “Yeah Yeah Yeahs” cover.
A young teen band named Granted brought the house down with some of their original recordings. They owned their awkward teen vibes to play a genuine, unabashed set full of songs about things that matter to teens.
More girl groups played — Shemonster covered PJ Harvey and T-Recstasy played a fun set later in the evening.
The GRRL Fest festivities went to 11 p.m. Several of the advertised bands didn’t show or arrived late, but the event was overall a great day for community fundraising with a higher turnout than the organizers expected. For updates on GRRRL FEST around the world, visit the organization’s Facebook page and website.