Girlschool Is More Than Just Music; It’s Messages And Meaning REVIEW+PHOTOS: GIRLSCHOOL LA 2018
LOS ANGELES, CA- From February 2nd through 4th, the Bootleg Theatre hosted Girlschool’s annual weekend-long event which is described as a “music and ideas festival with a mission: to celebrate, connect, and lift women-identified artists, leaders, and voices.” Though I was unable to attend the first day of festivities (which was highlighted by a keynote conversation between Carrie Brownstein and Morgan Parker and featured a performance by Kristin Kontrol that had both Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno and Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen step up to do surprise performances), I was able to attend events and performances on Saturday and Sunday.
What was once a festival that focused primarily on music, the current state of social inequities and gender politics has urged the festival over the years to focus on activism and provide a platform for voices to speak openly about social-justice issues that weigh heavily on the general consciousness.
When I arrived at the Bootleg on Saturday, a panel (Whitney Bell, Ashlee Marie Preston and Vera Papisova) discussed the meaning of activism and the steps one can take to be an effective activist. They took questions from the crowd ranging from tokenism to the effects of social media on causes, thoughtfully answering questions using examples from their own life experiences to illustrate and drive home their points. Audience members were fixated on the speakers, in awe not only of their stories but also in the strength it took to openly speak upon such tough topics. Ultimately, the speakers collectively urged the audience to stay focused on their respective objectives, and to proactively do things within their power without having to wait for anybody else to start the motor.
There were other substantive discussions like the panel on “Immigration and Creativity” on Sunday, but panels and presentation’s weren’t just limited to serious topics. There was a songwriting session held by the recording artist Muna, and a “Talking Circle” hosted by Stronger, but perhaps my favorite presentation was the “Sunday School Reading” curated by Jack Jones Literary Arts, where prose and poetry was read from the journals of female writers. Having studied poetry in college, I’m particularly fond of the art form and being able to listen to various women recall specific emotions and experiences with their own words was particularly intimate and beautiful.
There were also several interactive art installations and a handful of vendors that rounded out the atmosphere of the festival. While clearly the musical offerings were the ultimate highlights of the weekend, I found that the essence of the festival wouldn’t have been complete without the various panels, conversations and presentations about what is wrong, what needs to change and what can be done.
And though it’s called Girlschool, I really felt that the overall message and tone of the event was truly all-inclusive. It was a festival that focused on being individual, being strong in the self, and speaking your truth to power. And that message, is something that anybody can get behind.
BELOW ARE LINKS TO THE MUSICAL ACTS WE WERE ABLE TO CATCH AT GIRLSCHOOL 2018. CLICK ON THROUGH TO CHECK IT ALL OUT!
February 3, 2018
February 4, 2018
Derrick K. Lee is a music attorney, blogger, concert photographer and co-owner of Blurred Culture. He goes to a lot of shows and sometimes he writes good. Music is his boo.
All photos are edited with iPhoto. Lightroom edits can be made upon request. For prints and/or approvals for special uses of any photo taken by Derrick, please contact him directly.