Fem Fest, a free, student-only event is centered around intersectional feminism and features eight female-fronted acts across punk, indie, and hip-hop, including underground local bands, touring acts and influential punk rock pioneers. On Saturday, March 31, from noon to 7pm, the University of Redlands will be holding a feminist music and arts festival.
The university’s own Cosmic Cactus and Hoity-Toity will be opening the event, the former consisting entirely of University of Redlands students. Cosmic Cactus (Daria Pikulina ‘21, Anyela Guzman ‘20, Maya Carrillo ‘21, Karen Mendoza ‘21) formed in the Bekins Jam Room in January, bonding over a shared love for X-Ray Spex, The Red Pears, Frankie Cosmos and Dead Kennedys. The band has become a new favorite of the Johnston community since their debut appearance at last month’s 909 & Heartbreak event in Holt basement and their performance at Brand’s (the new project of ex-Hockey vocalist and Johnston alumni Ben Wyeth) debut show.
Redlands-based bubblegum-punks Hoity-Toity (Shelby Muniz, Aria Hurtado, Kelsey Caselden, Tana Snyder) also performed at 909 & Heartbreak, marking their first on-campus performance, but Hoity-Toity has been around since 2014, when their lead vocalist Shelby Muniz was just thirteen years old, with bassist Tana Snyder and guitarist Aria Hurtado joining in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Since then, the all-girl rockers have graced the stage at the Pomona Fairplex for the 2016 Vans Warped Tour (at which they released their debut self-titled EP) and the LA County Fair, as well as performing three times at the House of Blues. Their music draws from 70’s punk, 80’s new wave, 90’s alternative rock and modern indie pop. Hoity-Toity’s EP is available on all major music platforms.
Queer Punk trio The Groans (Annie Padilla, Dewie Hernandez, Orion Mecozzi) write powerful and relevant songs both personal and political, dealing with such topics as self-acceptance, sexual harassment, police brutality and why dogs don’t deserve to have nightmares. The band is notably charitable, donating proceeds from their music to causes such as BFF Pet Rescue, House of Ruth, Dogs Without Borders and Black Lives Matter. These sparkly punks have released 2 EPs, both available on major platforms.
Ontario’s Ariel View (Harmonie Martinez, Heaven Martinez, Nadine Parra, Miranda Viramontes) is another local favorite for their catchy, upbeat indie-surf pop sound. The all-girl foursome are a powerhouse, bringing their groovy, beachy vibes onto stages and dancefloors all around Southern California.
The Aquadolls (Melissa Brooks, Bella Devroede), formed in 2012 by lead vocalist Melissa Brooks, have made quite a name for themselves. The psychedelic surf-punk duo have co-headlined a tour with SWMRS and shared the stage with the likes of Kate Nash, The Raveonettes, The Growlers and Weezer. From humble beginnings in Brooks’ bedroom, The Aquadolls have now released an EP and an album on SoCal indie label, Burger Records. The group have traveled the country and show no sign of stopping their garage pop crusade.
East LA-born Alicia Armendariz, better known as Alice Bag, is no ordinary rock singer, in 1977 the chicana punk icon co-founded the Bags, one of the first bands to emerge from the L.A. punk scene alongside the likes of Black Flag, The Germs and The Go-Go’s. She was one of the first and most influential women in punk rock and has been delivering her feminist ferocity on stages worldwide for over 40 years. She is also an activist, a painter, and the author of two books (Violence Girl: East L.A. Rage to Hollywood Stage: A Chicana Punk Story and Pipe Bomb for the Soul) and a journal (“Work that Hoe: Tilling the Soil of Punk Feminism”). In 2016, she released her self-titled debut solo album on Don Giovanni Records. On March 23 of this year, she followed up with “Blueprint,” collaborating with riot grrrl legends Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, The Julie Ruin) and Alison Wolfe (Bratmobile, Cold Cold Hearts, Partyline, Cool Moms, Sex Stains, Ex Stains) on her songs “Turn It Up” and “77,” the latter of which has a music video that also features Shirley Manson of Garbage and Seth Bogart of Hunx and His Punx.
Alison Wolfe’s latest project, Ex Stains (Allison Wolfe, Gregg Foreman, Pachy Garcia, David Orlando), will also appear at Fem Fest. Their lead vocalist, Alison Wolfe, is best known for her work in Bratmobile. The band began in 1991 as an offshoot of hers and her former bandmate Molly Newman’s zine, Girl Germs, which was one of the first zines to feature African-American rappers alongside predominantly-white punks. Through D.I.Y. music and zines, Bratmobile kickstarted the “riot grrrl” feminist punk movement along with bands like Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Excuse 17 and Heavens to Betsy. Wolfe herself has written for the Washington Post, and even adapted a punk-themed romance manga called Nana to English. She also initiated the creation of another feminist music and arts festival, Ladyfest, along with Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney (ex-Heavens to Betsy). Since it’s start in Olympia in 2000, Ladyfest has spread worldwide to every continent but Antartica. Though Ex Stains have yet to release a record, Wolfe’s most recent album is Sex Stains’ eponymous 2016 debut, released on Don Giovanni Records.
Headlining the festival is yet another Don Giovanni signed artist, New York rapper-producer Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo, better known as Sammus. Named for the iconic Metroid heroine Samus Aran, Sammus often references video games and nerd culture in her song and album titles, such as the albums M’Other Brain and Another M (both Metroid references) and the songs “Time Crisis” and “Smash Bruhs.” Some have described her music as “nerdcore,” but as explored in her song “Mighty Morphing,” Sammus is not an artist who can fit under one label. Never allowing her identity to be stripped of its complexity, Sammus is quite vocal about her early alternative rock influences, even paying homage to Alanis Morrisette in Mighty Morphing’s music video. Her lyrics tackle themes of body positivity, sexuality, mental health and identity.
Fem Fest’s lineup lives up to the festival’s message of intersectional female empowerment, showcasing talented women of many kinds, with multiple LGBTQ+ women and women of color in the spotlight. The festival will also feature visual art and written works submitted by students and booths from Petite Mademoiselle and Red Door Vintage.