Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Conversations at rock shows

I got chatting to a girl in the ladies toilets at the Trail Of The Dead/Rival Schools/Japanese Voyeurs gig last night (lets call her J). She was a photographer, and I'd offered to use some of her pictures for a review I was thinking of writing on the show. She gave me her business card and I walked away happy, thinking I'd made a handy girl-girl business/work connect.

I was up at the front for most of the show, and noticed an influx of photographers when Rival Schools came on. Out of the 8 or so snappers clicking away, at least 7 were women. J was one of them. I remember thinking it was good to see so many laydeez up at the front working a rock show (though the sound engineer was, rather predictably, a dude), and then immediately followed this up with "but it would be even more rad to see more women headlining stages at rock shows". I told J this when I bumped into her later at the merch desk. Below is roughly how the exchange went:

J: "Oh. (Screws up her face). I don't really dig women in rock"
Me: "Umm. Huh?"
J: "Yeah, its not a gender thing. Its just about pitch"
Me: "Pitch?"
J: "Yeah. They always sing way too high; I don't like it. Its just my preference"
Me: "Really? So what about people like Tairie B?"
J: "Who?"
Me: "Or Angela Gossow? Patti Smith? Mia Zapata?"
J: "Oh, I don't really know those people"
Me: "The all have pretty low growls, not high pitched at all"
J: "Yeah, I don't really know them"
Me: "OH"

Maybe it was all the Tuborg (or just the sheer shock of hearing such unexpectedly ignorant bullshit, from a woman) but I wilted. How do you even begin to reeducate people who think like this? I tried to recommend some of the rad and fierce female bands and artists and singers who have shaped, subverted, challenged and innovated rock - in all its various forms, communities and spheres - but by that point she'd sensed the major flaw in her attitude and had decided blank, stubborn retreat was the safest option. I felt a real, crushing dismay.  Major love though to the woman who stopped me as I was walking back from the bar to tell me how rad it was to see someone wearing an L7 t shirt. Yeeaah.

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