Femme Wave feminist arts festival at Broken City, Nite Owl and Palomino

Monday 30th, November 2015 / 20:03
By Michael Grondin, Nivedita Iyer, Christine Leonard and Gareth Watkins

Full disclosure: Femme Wave feminist arts festival co-founder Hayley Muir is BeatRoute print production staff.

November 26-28, 2015


November 26, 2015

The Wrong Kind of Girls pair music and comedy to outrageous effect at Broken City.  Photo: Michael Grondin

The Wrong Kind of Girls pair music and comedy to outrageous effect at Broken City.
Photo: Michael Grondin

Broken City on a Thursday night is supposed to be a few tables of post-work drinkers, not a hundred-plus hooting and hollering feminists. But right now is the crest of Femme Wave, a long weekend showcasing feminist arts and artists, the first of its kind in this city. (GW)

Through laughter, four local comediennes Adora Nwofor, Amy Bugg, Gina Freeman and Patricia Cochlan gave a truthful, sometimes painful, but all the while, a very funny account of what their daily lives in Calgary are like, with a very strict no-heckling policy in place.

Using their individual voices, they made it evident that though many of us have the same goal, we all see things a little differently.

Demonstrating lesbian sex acts with Barbie dolls was the unique and weird three-piece The Wrong Kind of Girls, whose absurdly adorable ukulele strumming and funny story telling was quite interesting, to say the least. (MG)

The night’s two musical acts are in a similar wheelhouse and share a bassist. Sleepkit are psych-rock one minute, slightly chillwave the next, Bauhaus-gone-disco the minute after that. If it sounds hectic, it isn’t. For all the random stabs at the keyboard it’s calm, measured and controlled. Ghostkeeper (because both these bands have to have awesome names) sound like Portishead if they grew up in Northern Alberta, and they even play a saw. A saw. Femme Wave was off to a good start. (GW)

November 27, 2015

The Hermitess bring pagan fried harmonies to Nite Owl. Photo: Colin Gallant

The Hermitess bring pagan fried harmonies to Nite Owl.
Photo: Colin Gallant

A crowd that grew in complement and volume was in attendance at Friday’s Femme Wave musical revue, which was comprised of a quickly rotating roster of female artists who took to the stage in 20-minute intervals throughout the evening. The cozy, underground, library-themed nook at the Nite Owl provided a warm and inviting atmosphere for the variety of performers, who ranged in styles from country to rap and from neo-classical abstract to medieval reverie. Emily Triggs’ wide-open country forays had real legs. Running through the prairies with a voice as big as the sky, she set the standard high for the acts to come. FOONYAP auditioned for the part of soundtrack to Peter Greenaway’s next epic. Her haunting voice and calculated manipulations of violin and Mandobird electric mandolin and evocative wails captivated the room.

The sweet homestead lilt of Shaye Zadraveck’s electro-uke set was an adorable and touching affair. “Blue Moon”, the Midnight Cowboy classic “Everybody’s Talkin’” and “Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian” would make her most welcome at any luau. Do you like honey brown ales and long drives through the countryside with your best friend and your dog? Do you like life? Then you’ll probably agree that Mariel Buckley is as solid as folk-rock songsters come. Her competence and ease make even, superstar festival co-organizer and diva in her own right, Kenna Burima jealous. For some, plaid flannel is a safe-space. For others, it takes the thrumming strings of a massive harp and two harmonizing handmaidens to get the mojo flowing. Such is the case with the magical Dark Age-era troubadours in The Hermitess. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

By now the audience from Femme Wave’s Film event had arrived and the punk show upstairs was rumbling like thunder from above. The majority of the crowd may have been female downstairs, but not overwhelmingly so. And, there were no eggshells to be walked upon; simply an environment of respect. Think of it as exposure for persons who are marginalized and can have difficulty finding an appropriate forum for their particular form of artistic expression. After being to an endless litany of rock shows where male artists and audience members were in the vast majority, it wasn’t so terrible to be surrounded by women for a change. (CL)

November 28, 2015

Wares confronts the audience with emotional fervor at The Palomino. Photo: Michael Grondin

Wares confronts the audience with emotional fervor at The Palomino.
Photo: Michael Grondin

To cap off Calgary’s first feminist arts festival, The Palomino featured eight bands playing staggered sets on both floors of the raucous venue. Upon arrival, the place was already bustling with the crowd reverberating from the collective high of what had been a well attended and successful inaugural year filled with art, music and comedy. So naturally saving the best for last, the perfect way to see it go was with Femme Wave’s Fun House.

Edmonton-based acts provided some particular highlights, including the palpable passion seething from Cassia Hardy of Wares as well as Marlaena Moore’s engaging, every-girl musings. Later on Calgary punk outfit Blü Shorts’ frantic convulsions simply electrified, and finally the much-adored buzzing punks of Fist City seized the Fun House and brought Femme Wave to a crashing end. Tying the whole thing together in femme-fashion was an installation of a giant (and I mean giant!) fabric vulva thanks to the sewing work of Jessica Barabas.

What was most interesting—and something the festival organizers noted themselves—was that the shows drew a crowd made up of a lot of unfamiliar faces. Femme Wave’s gender-inclusive ethos has clearly resonated with more than just the usual show goers, and it was refreshing to witness a new demographic being enticed to take part. Overall, the Fun House was a killer wrap-up to a festival that has big things in store for Calgary if its christening year is any indication. I think I speak for most when I say that Femme Wave has been a most welcome addition. (NI)

See the complete collection of Femme Wave live photos on our Facebook page.

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