Marina and Lil’ Kim Top the First Night of OUTLOUD Raising Voices Music Festival
LOS ANGELES, CA- Per their website, OUTLOUD Raising Voices Music Festival is “a 3-Day, award-winning LGBTQ+ Music Festival, profiling and celebrating Queer artistry as a kick-off concert to PRIDE Month. This high-energy concert features show-stopping performances from the Raising Voices Main Stage, engaging artist interviews in the OUTLOUD Twitch Lounge, and an exciting outdoor Dance Arena.”
The top billing on the first day of OUTLOUD 2022 in West Hollywood featured performances by LGBTQ favorite Marina, and the Queen-B herself, Lil’ Kim. Derrick and Summer covered as many performances as they could!
Mila Jam started gaining national notoriety when she started posting parody videos of popular videos on Youtube while she was in the national touring company of the stage production of Rent. A vocal advocate for trans issues, she released her 2017 single “Faces” which was accompanied by two videos, one “unofficial” version of which featured a plethora of friends and allies including Angelica Ross, Laverne Cox, Tituss Burgess, among others, lipsynching the lyrics.
With one of the earliest performance times of the day, Mila took the stage with undeniable energy. Her stage theatrics were on full display, packing her short set with choreographed segments with dancers and powerful LGBTQ messaging. During the performance her latest dance-pop single, “DMTA” (an acronym for “dancing my tears away”) she showcased her own slick dance moves. An extremely fun set to start the day of music off right.
Gina Chavez is an award winning, bilingual Latin-folk singer who has been performing music since 2004, and has developed a unique sound which incorporates an amalgam of various musical styles including funk, cumbia, reggaeton, and folk. This was the first time I got some exposure to Gina’s music, but I’ve got to admit that it’s got me hooked… and I don’t speak spanish.
I loved how diverse her short performance was. She spinkled a bunch of musical flavors all throughout her performance. With her strong voice, Gina was able to effortlessly shift from rock vibes to club vibes to traditional vibes all in the space of her 15-20 minute set. I felt the audeince got a solid serving Gina’s repertoire, and I think it really served her well.
In doing more research on Gina, I discovered that she is more than just musician, passionately working humanitarian efforts (like volunteering in a gang-dominated suburb of San Salvador, El Salvador, where she and her partner founded Niñas Arriba, a college fund for young Latinas) and touring as a cultural ambassador with the U.S. State Department. Impressive to say the least.
One of the first acts kicking off the Outloud Raising Voices festival weekend was Cassidy King. Hailing from the Midwest, King is a part of the newest crop of LGBTQIA+ singer/songwriters springing up. Writing about toxic relationships, mental health, and being in the throes of love, King puts her whole heart on display with her music.
She started her set off with some of her strongest singles including: “Wasted”, “Safe Places”, and “Abigail”. King has an impressive knack for writing catchy songs and the ability to provide the vocals to match. During her entire performance, she appeared effortlessly cool and seemed completely at home on the stage. As a queer woman coming from a small conservative town in Ohio to trying to make it in the music scene, King’s journey is the kind that many across the U.S. can relate to and will champion.
Fans of the hit TV show Vampire Diaries will know all about Kat Graham. But as someone who didn’t watch that much TV back in the day, I actually got introduced to Kat Graham through her music back in 2017 when I randomly saw her perform at a showcase at SXSW when she was promoting her album funky, pop album Love Music Funk Magic. Seemingly out of nowhere, at the start of Pride Month, Kat dropped her newest album Long Hot Summer and she celebrated its release with a fully produced performance at Outloud.
In an interview with Loni Love and Jai Rodriguez, Kat explained that the album is about “liberation” and that she is donating the album’s proceeds to GLADD, which fights against LGBTQ+ defamation in entertainment and media. This should come as no surprise to her fans as Kat has actually been on GLADD’s counsel for over a decade.
Kat pulled out all of the stops for her performance. In front of a packed crowd, Kat and her dancers lay the smack down on anybody that doubted Kat could rock a stage being away from the mic for so long. Not only was the performance jam-packed with select numbers from her album, but Kat also gave her fans, and the crowd, something extra when she had ΛLISSΛH and Domino Presley join her on stage for the performance of “Woof” while ALSO having members of the House of Balenciaga dance on stage. An amazing performance that surely could have… and perhaps should have… been on the festival main-stage.
One of my favorite performances at Outloud was by Shea Diamond. I was absolutely feeling Shea and everything that she was about. Her blues rock-infused music was so powerful to me and her voice just oozed a powerful fierceness. When she introduced her song “American Pie” and earnestly asked for just a small piece of it, I really felt what she asking for was some American Dignity, and that really resonated with me.
I was also impacted by some of the serious messaging she delivered during her performance. Had she not pointed it out, I would not have noticed that on the train of her dress, she had stitched the names of transgender people who had been killed in recent years. She emphasized that all of the women who had been killed were not to be forgotten as they are all part of the narrative and history of transgender rights.
Closing out her set, the performed a joyful cover of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”, and had a bunch of her friends join her on stage including the popular Los Angeles DJ/Artist Mike Taylor and rising star Marieme
It’s amazing how Ylona Garcia’s career has taken off in the past year. I got my first look at Ylona (or “YLo” for short) when she first came to Los Angeles to perform for 88Rising’s “Head In The Clouds” fest. Since then, she’s been steadily dropping singles that have been really broadening her audience. Her single “Entertain Me” has amassed almost 20 million streams on Spotify, and her new single “Vibin” already (as of July 2nd) has over 1.4 million streams on Youtube. That’s pretty amazing numbers.
Her performance at Outloud was just as fun, and perhaps even more impressive that, her 88Rising performance. At only 20 years old, You can tell that she’s evolving in all facets of her artistry, and with her live performance, she added additional flare with dancers and staged choreography. Seeing her take these small steps to up her game is impressive enough, and I still think that as long as she keeps dropping more quality bangers, her potential is limitless.
One of the most hyped artists of the evening was without a doubt Slayyyter. Although she has only been releasing music for four years, Slayyyter’s grimy electro-pop sound quickly gained an online fandom due largely to Soundcloud and Twitter. Within this short time frame, she’s already managed to collaborate with established artists like Big Freedia, Charlie XCX, Pussy Riot, and Rebecca Black. Slayyyter sold out her first tour in June 2019, all without ever having performed live before. Her provocative lyrics, Myspace-era image, and no-bullshit attitude are why fans were clamoring to get a spot against the railing for her set.
Slayyyter opened with one of her best collaborations, “Stupid Boy” featuring New Orleans’ own, Big Freedia. Backed by only a DJ, she easily got the crowd dancing as she bounced all over the stage. Slayyyter ended her set with her two biggest singles to date, “Daddy AF” and “Mine”. These songs helped cement her as one of pop’s newest vixens and “Mine” was even hand-selected by Lady Gaga herself to include in her “Women of Choice” playlist for Apple Music. Slayyyter is on the warpath to take her rightful crown as electro pop’s newest reigning ruler and we all were lucky to witness her rise in person.
The last time I got to personally see CupcakKe perform, it was only a 5 minute performance at Yola Dia back in 2019. Thankfully, she didn’t miss any flights this time around and got to give a full set at Outloud Fest…. and she fully delivered. If you know about CupcakKe and her music, you knew what to expect, and the crowd ate it all up. She performed her seminal hits, “Duck Duck Goose” and “Deepthroat”, which had the audience all rapping along with her and every single hypersexual lyric. I still get a kick watching the expressions on the faces of those people who don’t know about her music and listen to her lyrics for the first time.
CupcakKe is from Chicago, she gave her city some additional shine when she invited the Chicago duo Freaky Boiz up to the stage to perform a couple of songs with her, including their collaboration “Richer Than”.
One of the headliners of Friday night was the Queen Bee herself, Lil’ Kim. Hailed as one of the greatest female rappers of all time and as someone who helped break down barriers for women in music, Lil’ Kim is undoubtedly a living legend. She has long been an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community and even used to work with the grandfather of ballroom, Hector Xtravaganza, on her iconic colorful fur coats. Lil’ Kim has historically been very vocal about the influence and inspiration the LGBTQIA+ community has given her and has never shied away from giving the community their flowers.
Appearing on stage in true Lil’ Kim form, she wore a skin-tight black body suit and a bright pink feathered piece that lined her collar. Standing at just under 5 feet, she may be small in stature but she is certainly not small in attitude. For the entirety of the forty-minute set, she gave the crowd the fierce energy that she is known for. Between the live band, numerous dancers, and breaks to talk to the crowd, the show didn’t feel like a festival set; it felt more like a slightly shortened tour performance. At one point, the House of Marc Jacobs made an appearance and Lil’ Kim announced that she was dubbed the legendary ballroom house’s mother by the designer himself.
You don’t need to be a super fan to know almost all the songs in a Lil’ Kim set. Performing over 13 songs, she gave her fans exactly what they had been waiting for. Her classics like “How Many Licks”, “Jump Off”, “Lady Marmalade”, and “Get Money” got the crowd screaming the lyrics and getting down no matter where they were. All in all, Lil’ Kim delivered what the crowd was craving and then some. Her performance surely silenced any doubters and proved that she’s still the Queen Bee.
On the Unity stage, EDM wunderkind Moore Kismet performed a magical bass-heavy set for what they excitedly proclaimed was their first pride ever. At only 17 years old, Kismet is a non-binary DJ & producer who recently had the distinct honor of becoming the youngest person to ever perform at EDM’s most well-known festival, the Electric Daisy Carnival. They originally garnered attention after being a finalist in A-Trak’s Goldie Awards beat battle in 2019 at 14 years old. Kismet has most recently been given the Brownies & Lemonade endorsement, as they have performed at numerous B&L events within the last few years.
Although their album doesn’t come out until June 24th, Kismet dropped several teasers like their new single “Wasteland”. Although they were spinning high above the crowd, you could clearly see Kismet’s glowing smile and radiating energy from across the dance floor. This combined with their carefully crafted set of bass-heavy beats made for a truly memorable set that rounded out the night of festivities. After making Billboard’s 21 Under 21 list two years in a row now, it’s safe to say that the new generation of EDM is in good hands with Moore Kismet.
Marina released her fifth studio album, and last for Atlantic Records, Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land on June 11, 2021, but she wasn’t able to tour in support of it until this year due to Covid restrictions/limitations. She used Outloud as an opportunity to share that album’s music with the city of Los Angeles.
Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land received positive reviews all around. There’s a real power in the album’s music which really hits on some strong social messages while couched in the fun, electronic quirkiness that Marina’s fans loved from the start. Marina only performed a handful of tracks from her new album (the titled track, “Venus Fly Trap”, “Purge The Poison” and “Man’s World”) which were all strategically placed towards the start of her set, and opted to entertain her fans with basically a “best of” performance consisting of her greatest hits. “Bubblegum Bitch”, “Oh No!”, “How To Be Heartbreaker”, she performed them all. By the time, she performed her closer “Primadonna”, you could see the look of satisfaction in all of her fan’s eyes.
As the final performance on the main stage of Day 1 for Outloud, there really couldn’t have been a better closer than Marina. She’s never pandered to the LGBTQ community (in fact, she’s openly criticized those who have), yet she’s probably got one of the strongest LGBTQ fan bases in the world. Her quirky indie-pop expressed through fierce lyricism and unapologetic IDAF expression speaks towards much of what the community represents, and that doesn’t need any pandering at all.
Closing out the Unity stage for Day 1 was the Femme House founder LP Giobbi. Dubbed the queen of piano house, LP Giobbi frequently incorporates her training as a jazz pianist into her live performance by playing the keyboard intermittently throughout. With singles like “Say a Little Prayer” & “Sinner”, it’s undeniable that her musicianship and production abilities are top-notch. The words Femme House were constantly appearing across the screens, referring to her nonprofit of the same name which provides the tools for women and LGBTQIA+ people to enter the music scene. Launched in 2019, Femme House offers workshops, scholarship programs, mentorships, and more. She even hosted free production workshops on every date of her recent headlining tour.
LP Giobbi is a true embodiment of the word entrepreneur; she’s a non-profit founder, producer, performer, streamer, educator, music director, and the list goes on and on. LP Giobbi’s blending of endless house tunes into a high-energy set perfectly wrapped up the first day with a lively party on the dancefloor.