Feminist Friday showcases female-fronted rock from across New York state

Jessica Posner, a Syracuse University professor and "riot-grrl" singer, hosts a feminist rock showcase to counteract a local music scene dominated by men.

Indie music, cheap beers and interesting conversation makes for a usual Friday night at Spark Contemporary Art Space. This past Oct. 2, feminist punks clad in floral prints, combat boots and bandanas screamed, crooned, strummed and shredded raw emotion, angst and revolution in front of a rowdy crowd nodding and moshing along.

This was Feminist Friday, hosted by Jessica Posner, an adjunct professor in the School of Art and department of Transmedia at Syracuse University and the lead singer of Malvinas, a folk punk band dedicated to political activist Malvina Reynolds.

“It feels good to play music with good friends of mine,” said Posner, who created Feminist Friday as a means of showcasing female-fronted bands from New York State. The Oct. 2 show featuring The Nudes (Syracuse), Malvinas (Syracuse), Green Dreams (Rochester), and Worriers (Brooklyn). Charging $7 to $10 on a sliding scale, Spark was filled with a diverse crowd.

“Lauren and Lou [of Worriers] are very good friends of mine and they were on tour," Posner said. “I heard they were coming this way and we wanted to have a show together.”

So Posner teamed up with Trevor Parlo Clement, a local punk show promoter and put together Feminist Friday. Upon entry, copies of Clement’s zine “How To Book And Promote A DIY Show For Dummies” were available, and posters for ths show by local illustrator and Clement’s partner Cara Luddy were sold for $5 each.

A number of Syracuse University students involved in the Syracuse feminist community were present at the show, which gained publicity through Facebook.

“I normally stop by Spark pretty often, I like going to the shows here,” said psychology senior Breanna Dickson. “This is actually one of the times I’ve ever seen female-fronted bands here so I thought I’d check it out.”

Among other chatting guests waiting for the show, those in attendance were able to find Worriers, Malvinas and Green Dreams gear, everything from t-shirts to pins to vinyls sold.

“We have a lot of really talented friends who make a lot of really cool art,” said Jesse Amesmith, Green Dreams’ lead vocalist and guitarist.

Amesmith had a close friend design the artwork for an LP as well as t-shirts. When Amesmith isn’t rocking out with Green Dreams, she is working on her upcoming yoga studio, YogaVibe585, back in Rochester, New York.

The Nudes, a lo-fi indie rock foursome, opened up the show with a soft number, playing a full set with strong vocals and plenty of guitar switching. Having played all over Syracuse, including at the most recent Ladyfest, the group is nearly a household name in the local indie music scene.

Malvinas, a "riot-grrl" band started by Jessica Posner and her partner Joanna Spitzner, followed, mixing the work of Malvina Reynolds, a blues singer and social justice activist from the 1960’s and 70’s, with modern art rock, the seven-piece provided an atypical sound with revolutionary lyrics.

“We really loved [Reynold’s] music and her message,” Posner said. “So we invited a group of our friends to start a riot-grrl band based her music and music from the labor movement.”

Green Dreams’ outer-space themed punk rock seemed to take the audience into another world, where there’s only playful moshing, good vibes, and self-love. The trio put on a high-energy performance, leaving Jesse Amesmith on the ground and gasping for air once it ended.

Worriers’ epic finale had the crowd singing along and swaying. The foursome is currently touring across New York state.

As the audience filtered out of Spark, many stopped and signed their names and email addresses for more information regarding future Feminist Fridays.

“I think there’s a pretty vibrant music scene here in Syracuse but I feel it’s mostly dominated by men,” Posner said. “This is a really nice opportunity for people here in Syracuse to come out and experience an evening where it’s feminists performing in public together and friends performing together in public.”

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