Written by Live Nation Staff • Photography by Michael Amico, Live Nation • February 3, 2017
A weekend filled with feminism, fun and women-fronted bands is one we could relive repeteadly. Girlschool LA is the mind-child of The Airborne Toxic Event guitarist Anna Bullbrock. The event spans three days containing panels, performances, djs and a whole lot of girl power.
Starting off the weekend with Kona, it was clear she not only had the control of a traditional lead singer, but the attitude as well. Kona’s set was a beautiful display of welcome and empowerment. Dedicating a song to her girlfriend — who she refused to name because “she gets enough attention” — Kona was as charismatic as she is talented.
Kicking her set off with a bang, Luna Shadows was just a silhouette engulfed by moody red light as she hit her tom-toms to begin the rad drum loop that leads into “Hallelujah California." Going through her Summertime EP, the rising pop star sang with an aura of reverie. Reverb-heavy vocals and some live synth action propelled the dreamy mood even further. Luna also debuted a new song of hers that she chose to premiere at the event because it was “fitting.” Singing, “I could be the one,” the indie artist fed us some more of her electro-pop goodness that we're excited to hear more of.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening for us was the performance of teenage rockband The Regrettes. Comprised of a girl guitarist, bassist and lead singer, it was love at first sight with the four piece of pure rock’n’roll. Each dressed in the style of a different decade, the girls would have made Joan Jett herself proud. Their pure unadulterated rock sound has you saying, “yes, welcome back.” We promise, they’re that good. Check out a snippet of the incredibly talented rock band below.
To close out the first night, the bird and the bee's Inara George and her female backing band delivered a light, fun set led by George’s soft vocals. Though their sound leans mostly into the pop realm, the jazz influence gives it a bit of a kick. “I decided to wear all pink, cause I don’t own a pussy cat, so I decided to be one,” she started off. They played through songs like “Polite Dance Song,” and our personal favorite, their cover of the BeeGee’s “How Deep Is Your Love.”
If The Regrettes are the hard-hitting rock band of Girlschool LA, Winter definitely takes the cake for that firmly soft-spoken dream pop act on the lineup. Our entire Saturday was made watching lead singer Sasmira Winter dominate a crowd with the band's iridescent nature, achieving the goal of immersing us into a different world.
Francisca Valenzuela approached the stage dressed in a stunning red and black shawl that cascaded down to her feet as she sat at the keyboards for an acoustic set. The Chilean singer dressed up her piano-only performance with her own personal flavor by creating a clap-like beat with her heels on the floor. Valenzuela’s vocals were hauntingly beautiful, with the emotional commitment to back the powerful messages behind her music. She explained her song “Salvador” to the audience, which was dedicated to late Chilean president Salvador Allende, the first socialist to be voted into office through a democratic election. When she sang “Catedral,” Francisca briefly touched on the issue of non-legalized abortion that plagues her home country due to Catholic traditions. Eventually joined by two other powerhouse vocalists, Francisca’s performance left us feeling empowered and emotional.
Deap Vally stole the show on Saturday night with their big, arena-worthy sound and their grunge approach to rock music. Outspoken and dripping with attitude, the duo played some older hits from Sistrionix like one of our favorites, “Walk of Shame,” and mixed in a few of their new songs off of Femejism like “Teenage Queen.” Julie was in her element on the drums, while Lindsey killed it on the guitar, making for a powerful duo on stage. Often compared to the Black Keys and the White Stripes, Deap Vally’s music emanates just enough grit to keep your attention while sending a message that screams “we do what we want."
Sundays are often bittersweet, but this one was the perfect end to a perfect weekend. We kicked off our evening seeing our love Caroline Smith, the embodiment of what bold feminism on stage can look like. Commanding a band of men while not censoring herself made Caroline’s already exceptional performance that much more enjoyable. She premiered a new song that night in which she dedicated to an ex-boyfriend in a very loving way. But it wasn’t just the feminism, it was Caroline’s talent and positivity that had us enthralled. She was effortlessly cheerful and ready to take on whatever was next.
Rituals of Mine are an intensely dedicated group comprised of two percussionists and a lead singer. While a lot of their set was performance and interpretive based, the messages they send are loud and clear. They are there, they are loud and they are talented. Fully dedicated to the #girlstothefront movement, they use their music to truly speak to their crowds in ways that inspire and promote young women to create any type of music they want.
Headliner Chelsea Wolfe packed the biggest room in the Bootleg Theater to a very ecstatic crowd. Performers, panelists and fans all gathered together to see Chelsea’s fierce set. Much like Rituals of Mine, Chelsea Wolfe used her music to truly magnify her message. Having minimal —if any— spoken words in between her ethereal and haunting performance, she uses her music as her medium to speak to her fans. It’s a magnificent experience to see a woman with such a command of her crowd. Taken aback by the sheer grace of her performance, the weekend managed to end on an ever higher note than it began.
Other new bands you need to check out from this year’s lineup: Xo Boyfriend, Ex Sage, The Wild Reeds, and Lipherma.
Girlschool LA was a weekend filled with learning opportunites, great performances and a lot of girl power. We're excited we got to go, and excited to see it push more boundaries next year.