LOUD WOMEN describe themselves as “a DIY collective that champions women in music by hosting live events that are fun, friendly and frickin awesome”. The gigs were launched in October 2015 by Cassie Fox, of The Wimmins’ Institute and Thee Faction, as part of the ‘We Shall Overcome’ weekend of anti-austerity gigs staged all over the UK.
She says, “I looked at the list of gigs – hundreds of them – all starring men with guitars, male DJs, male organisers, and I thought I’d try putting on a women-led live music night at the Silver Bullet in Finsbury Park. I was bouyed up from having organised a big show (with Thee Faction), at Union Chapel, a fundraiser for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign, which raised nearly £10,000. The first LOUD WOMEN night was a massive hit! The place was packed from the start, we raised loads of money for our chosen charity (Women’s Aid), and some awesome, unknown bands got a platform.”
Most notably, this was Dream Nails’ first ever gig, a band involved with feminist direct action groups. Without even a demo to their name they were booked by Cassie, as the bill’s opener, and delivered an infectious Ramones meets Bikini Kill for the 21st Century. News of this fire, feminism and fun travelled fast: since then they’ve released an EP, ‘DIY’, live shows are always sold out, and they’ve secured a slot at this year’s Glastonbury.
“That’s what LW is all about: putting talented and committed women on stages who might otherwise have struggled to get heard.”
Anya of Dream Nails describes LOUD WOMEN as “our fairy punkmothers”.
Since that first gig, LOUD WOMEN have showcased 42 women-led acts via 17 shows, and raised nearly £1,000 for Women’s Aid, through a regular raffle (prizes often include rare records and books). Shows are mostly in London, where Cassie Fox is based, but not exclusively so: recent dates included cracking events at Newport and Brighton.
In February, the LOUD WOMEN eZine was launched to over 1,000 subscribers, featuring news, interviews, videos and music reviews. A festival is planned for September. Bob Oram wrote in The Morning Star that “Loud Women will undoubtedly be the beacon for all the best new female talent in 2016”.
Tegan Christmas, of The Ethical Debating Society, says LOUD WOMEN are the “Best shows in London for grrrl fronted guitar action! Inclusive, friendly and inspiring.”
Angela Martin of Bugeye says, “Awesome crowds, amazing bands and one of the most supportive promoters you’re likely to meet.”
Artist Diane Goldie describes the nights as “Real feminism and sisterhood in action with a rrriotous score”
Behind the scenes is a group known as ‘Team LOUD WOMEN’ – a group of musicians, gig-goers, music journalists and writers, willing to support Loud Women, as and when required in areas such as marketing, writing for the E-zine, organisation, door duty, stage managing, social media, design. Women who join the Loud Women team are committed to DIY music, and want to support Cassie’s vision and share their experience or knowledge, others want to work or study in a particular field, a feasible very part time internship.
What type of bands is Loud Women looking for?
“Officially, the genres we put on are punk, pop and indie,” says Cassie. “But in practice it’s just ‘stuff that I like’. And, to be fair, that seems to be working pretty well for us so far! My favourite bands are those who have something to say for themselves, but want us all to have a good time while they’re doing that. That’s the kind of atmosphere we love at LW shows: one minute we’ll have tears in our eyes because someone on stage has just been so open and honest about something that’s hurt them, the next we’re down the front jumping about with our friends, laughing while we’re dancing and singing along to some badass music.”
LOUD WOMEN also host regular all-ages matinee gigs, the first, at the Lexington, Islington and the next on 18th June at the Half Moon, Putney, with acts such as Piney Gir and The Priscillas providing entertainment for grown ups and kiddies alike. Children are encouraged to take part in music making and bands adapt their set for the mixed audience. There is face painting for children and the usual raffle. Parents need to provide their own ear-plugs or headphones for children but the sound level is not as high as a normal live show.
Highlight of the LOUD WOMEN calendar this year is their first all-day festival – Saturday 3rd September at the 700 capacity venue T.Chances in Tottenham. 25 acts will appear across two stages (with no slot clashes), in a line-up that mixes established artists, such as Desperate Journalist, Louise Distras and Grace Petrie, hot new stars like Vodun and Dolls, and DIY favourites such as The Ethical Debating Society, Petrol Girls and Dream Nails. There will be stalls, zines, clothing, poetry and speakers. The event is all-ages until 7pm, then the louder bands get going until 2am.
This article, by Ngaire Ruth, was published in The Morning Star newspaper, June 2016, and is reproduced here with permission, cheers!
ABOUT NGAIRE RUTH
Ngaire Ruth wrote for Melody Maker for 15 years, as well as presenting Transmission TV, in the ‘80s and ‘90s. More recently, she’s moved into online journalism as Live Editor for thegirlsare.com, and continutes to freelance and teach at UCA.