Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Live Music Review and a Discussion on Women in Heavy Music


     So usually in this area I basically just say in different words the description I posted on Youtube. This time however, I wanted to take a minute to discuss in a little more depth some of the statements I made in the video.

     This is NOT anti-female. This is not even anti-FEMINIST. Though my feelings on such things are no secret. This is not even intended to be overly political. This is simply a statement of my opinion on the state of women in music. More specifically, women in HEAVY music.

     If the liberal narrative is to be believed, then women have a pretty tough go of things when it comes to work to start off. They make less than men, its harder for them to get gainful employment, yada yada yada. In the music industry, it being so patriarchal and all, that is true ten times over. Women are often relegated to simply being eye candy, and their opinions are not listened to nor taken seriously.

     If you want to follow something a little more logical, the music industry is still something of a "boy's club." Just the shear numbers involved, no gender politics to account for, there are tremendously more men than women making a living in the music industry as a whole. Looking into the heavy music side of things, the ratio drops even more significantly. Possibly the nature of heavy music being a bit more aggressive has something to do with the cro-mag sensibilities that most men harbor, which makes it more appealing to the male gender. By that nature there are fewer females than males that tend to make aggressive music.

     Taking all of that into consideration (even some of the less tongue-in-cheek statements in the paragraph about liberal ideologies), those women who do make it in this crazy business often times are still seen as secondary musicians, or even gimmicks in some cases. Speaking from personal experience and from anecdotal accounts relayed to me through the years, men in power in the music industry rarely take women seriously. Women in heavy bands, for a long time, were limited to background positions. Keyboard player was a big assignment for females in heavy bands for quite some time. Then there was an insurgence of female fronted bands, with an occasional all female band. These vocalists were/are viewed as "cute" or the like, and the statement "aww that's nice, she thinks she can sing in a metal band" or something equally as dismissive, was used to describe females in bands at shows.

     All of this is the reason it maddens me when a female in a band plays into the hand of those who dismiss her. It is one thing to use your sexuality as an expression of power. It is a whole other thing to flash your tits on stage while saying fuck about 1000 times in your opening song.

     As I said in the video, I love quite a few bands with female members. Usually the fact that they are women is irrelevant to the music. It is more of an ingredient into the flavor they bring to the music.

     The performance put on by Knee High Fox at the Herman's Hideaway show on January third this year, and I can only assume all previous and future performances based on the way they conducted themselves that night, was poor. That statement is based on the poor lyrical content and pandering performance of their vocalist.

     She did all of the things one would expect a female in a heavy band would do while trying to be sexy. If a female is simply confident in her sexuality she doesn't have to try, sexy just happens. When a woman tries too hard, or a man for that matter, it exposes their insecurities. Thereby making for a less entertaining performance for those watching. Her attempt at sexy strutting across the stage, and gyration of the hips, all fell flat as a sad attempt to win over a crowd that was clearly there to see the nights headliners, Orgy and her boyfriend's band Powerman 5000 (more on that in a sec). As stated earlier, too, when the strutting and gyrating didn't work as expected she flashed her black bra which she was wearing under her "Goth Spice" t-shirt. (You know how I know she isn't goth?...) All of this would be almost excusable if she were talented. Almost.
     The saddest part of all this isn't the sad visuals, but the dying feline-esque vocal performance. The screeching banshee performance was far from enjoyable. I am one who enjoys harsh music, so I am no stranger to the musical theory of purposeful abrasiveness, but there is a definite sense that the abrasiveness in her vocal performance was not intended. Sure a scream to some is purposefully abrasive, but in this  genre of music it is not new ground. Being as such there are techniques to do it properly to enhance the performance and not injure the performer in the process, none of which seemed to be heeded. There was a feeling that someone along the line said, "Cool it's a girl who can scream, let's hire her!" "Is she any good?" "Dude what part of 'girl who can scream' don't you understand?"

     And then to add insult to injury, we come to the lyrical content. We have established the fact that this vocalist is a woman, and she is in a hard rock band. Both of which are achievements in and of themselves in this industry. We have also covered her insecurities surfacing in the form of misplaced sexuality. It seems those insecurities also surface in the form of the need to be "edgy and dark" when writing lyrics. The first song was the only song I really bothered to pay anything resembling close attention to the lyrics of this band. after about the 53rd "fuck" I tuned out the words coming from the stage as much as possible. Fred Durst once did this same thing on the opening track of the third Limp Bizkit album. When you are treading the same lyrical ground as Fred Durst, your "edgy and dark" credibility goes right out the window. It is not SHOCKING that you are a woman on stage and saying "fuck" repeatedly, with seemingly no actual point other than to be shocking. We are living in an age, by and large, beyond shock. Wendy O. Williams she's not.

     That should be enough. This piece would end there, if only there wasn't another layer of insult to this. Now mediocre bands go on national tours all the time. Bands who are more worried about their image than their sound do too. Shit, often times these bands are the ones who make it big in the cultural conversation. So that is no surprise nor insult. The insult comes in the form of Ms. Connolly's beau; none other than Mr. Powerman 5000 himself, Spider One. It seems highly coincidental that the two of them are shacking up and her mediocre band is on the same bill as his above average band. Perhaps they weren't a thing until the tour. I will conceit that. But still strangely coincidental. And if it did happen that Knee High Fox only got on the tour because of her relationship with spider, is THAT not an insult to the foundations of feminism?

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