Live Review: Loud Women Fest at Rich Mix, London

I was very excited to be attending my second year in a row for LOUD WOMEN fest. The festival is organised by the fabulous and multi talented Cassie Fox, who has created something of an LOUD WOMEN empire. As LOUD WOMEN is not just the festival, but also regular gigs around London, Brighton and Hastings, a radio show, and a music zine. There are even LOUD WOMEN chapters in other parts of the world including the USA, Canada and Australia.  The festival this year was it’s 7th one, committed to turning up the volume on women in music. 

If that wasn’t all fantastic enough, LOUD WOMEN is also inclusive, including trans and non binary artists into their events too. One of the things I loved about it last year was the diversity, and welcoming atmosphere. This was very much present this year too, maybe even more so, with a different venue ‘Rich Mix’. The venue is located in Shoreditch. A diverse, creative arts space that has gender neutral toilets, water freely available, accessible and welcoming to all members of the community.

This year I brought along a friend, so we met outside the venue around 2pm, a little after the first band, but prepared for a whole day of music ahead. I only knew a few bands on the line up, but felt excited to discover some new artists. 

The venue set up was over two floors, with one stage upstairs, and one downstairs. The first band we caught were Shallow Honey on the smaller stage upstairs. Their alternative rock was a nice warm up for the day ahead.

As the timings meant performances alternated between stages, we headed downstairs to the larger stage for the next band Vernon Jane from Ireland. This band turned out to be one of my highlights of the day. Singer Emily Jane had such charisma, it was virtually impossible not to love them. So much energy and enthusiasm literally radiated from the stage, and spread like wildfire as Emily stepped off stage into the crowd. The music itself was a mix of ska, emo, pop punk. Emily’s voice was stunning. She also seemed so genuinely happy to be there, the performance was great overall but I’m pretty sure Emily had all our hearts by the end of their set.

It was then back upstairs for Gold Baby. In between acts we had spoken word from Janine Booth  which provided a nice little break between music. Gold Baby played us soft, gentle, delicate indie rock which was very calming after the excitement of Vernon Jane!

Back downstairs again, and the next band were my other highlight of the day- Yakkie. The band are so new, it was their first live show. I already felt like it would be something special, when I noticed Janey Starling was the singer, and Robin Gatt from Petrol Girls were in the band. I was not disappointed- not even a little! Yakkie were like a full blown modern riot grrrl band. The politics, the anger. The passion, the calling women to the front. Every box was ticked and then some. Janey had unbelievable energy. This was a powerful performance that will stick in my mind for a long time. I also loved their punky version of 99 Red Balloons!

Next up was all female band House of Women – a band that played pure rock n roll. Afterwards we experienced some intense atmospheric trip hop stylings from Where We Sleep. We also got to hear a speech about period poverty and shaming from the fantastic charity Bloody Good Period.

By this point of several hours of non stop music, my friend and I were starting to flag, so we did miss a couple of bands. But had a much needed refuel, with delicious vegan food from the Global Fusion Creole Bakery that was on a floor in between the two musical floors.

At that point, the lift decided to break, so now it was a bit of an epic walk up and down stairs to each stage! So initially when we first got upstairs to see The Empty Page, the audience was a bit sparse. This was a band I was a little familiar with, but not ever seen live. I was not disappointed at all and was very glad that the crowd got fuller as the set went on. I loved the passion, the punk/riot grrrl/alternative rock vibe. 

Back all the way down the stairs for Jock, after a speech from Alliance for Choice. I absolutely loved everything about the Belfast band. They are a queer punk band, who were sort of understated in appearance but in sound definitely embodied the riot grrrl style in a big way.

Another little break was needed, so we missed a band but were keen to watch Cassie Fox’s band (I told you she is multitalented)! I, Doris. I saw them at last year’s festival and adored them. This year was no exception, I had really hyped them to my friend and they totally lived up to my hyping. Sparkly, funny, relatable lyrics about the pitfalls and shit you deal with as a woman, and ending with a Bikini Kill cover, what more could you really ask for?

On the other end of the spectrum, the next band were Cowz who were a bit more dance oriented than most of the bands had been up to this point.

Time for another rock n roll comfort break needed- and during this little break, we got to sit and watch some beautiful music from female violin players Vulva Voce. I am not really someone who listens to classical music typically, but their music was calming and gorgeous. I also really love their ethos of performing music composed by women and underrepresented voices beyond the concert hall.

One of the great things about LOUD WOMEN fest really is the diversity of music, as watching The Kut was again the complete opposite of what we had just watched. I had seen a snippet of them live when I saw them supporting Electric Six. But I hadn’t caught all their set that time but this time I did and what a performance! Another band that played with some energy and passion, and really got the audience going. At one point, singer Maha said the set was nearly over, so last chance to dance. She said you’re welcome to get on stage during the song. At first one brave woman got up, then slowly but surely six women got up on the stage with the band, and looked to be having the time of their lives. The energy was insane!

The Kut was the last band we watched, after a hard day of rocking. A few days have passed since I attended LOUD WOMEN fest but I’m still feeling inspired and fired up from it. Everything about this festival you can tell has been really thought about and considered. The bands-that I have to say almost every single one I saw, you could tell really loved to play. There was also an electric energy running through all the music, as an array of emotions including anger and passion were channelled in such a powerful, deep way. But it wasn’t just the bands. It was the talks from important campaign groups, the spoken word poetry, the inclusivity, the vegan and gluten free food, the drumming from Samba Sisters Collective, and most of all the welcoming. 

I cannot speak highly enough of Cassie and all the LOUD WOMEN team. They are a true inspiration and I always look forward to attending any gigs organised by them. LOUD WOMEN is a non profit DIY collective who give their profits to the bands they put on and send any additional money to charities like Women’s Aid If you would like to support LOUD WOMEN to keep on doing the good work they are doing- you can buy music and merchandise from their Bandcamp

The next gigs LOUD WOMEN have coming up are:

4th OctoberComic Sans + Bareface + Tydl at the Pipeline, Brighton

5th October- Estelle Mey + Everyday Saints + Bellza at The Piper, Hastings

14th October- The LOUD WOMEN 9th Birthday PartyHagar the Womb + MAITA + I, Doris + The Baby Seals + The Red Stains + Twat Union at The Hope and Anchor, London

15th October- Pryma + Midwich Cuckoos + JoJo & The Teeth + The Calaveras + Morgana at The Lady Luck, Canterbury

Visit Eventbrite for tickets 

Follow LOUD WOMEN- Facebook/Instagram/Twitter

Article by Hayley Foster da Silva

Photographs by Hayley Foster da Silva and Meo Violetta

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