Photos by Maggie McInerney
Whenever I find myself at a music festival or a bar where bands are playing, I will have my friend by my side one moment…and the next moment a man will have wedged his way in between the two of us. The combination of an eye roll, slight shove, and “um excuse me” will typically result in the reuniting of my friend and I. Giggling but scared and holding onto each other’s arms a little tighter than before, this scenario is all too familiar. These uncomfortable interactions may vary in extremity from one scenario to the next; It can range from a guy dancing too close, to verbal harassment, or even groping, and so on and so forth. It is unfortunate but true when I write that this behavior is almost a given at concerts; expected each and every time in some capacity. Music is a communal experience; a space for friends to come together; to share and bask in the straight up magic of a live event, and for that magic to truly exist, the said space needs to be a safe space. A space where women don’t have to worry about harassment at the bar or on the dance floor. A space where I can dance under a disco ball with my girlfriends and not feel the stinging pain of the male gaze moving it’s way up and down my body; examining my every move. This harassment extends far past my own experience and has tainted or even completely soiled some music fans’ love of experiencing their favorite tunes live.
With that said, I was ecstatic when I learned that ANCHR would be hosting a benefit concert for Our Music, My Body at Sleeping Village, which took place last week on November 27th. If you don’t already know, Our Music, My Body is a non-profit organization that sets out to create and promote “fun and consensual music experiences for all,” as a collaboration between Resilience (formerly RVA) and Between Friends. Sexual harassment in the music scene is ever so present and can get to the point that attending a concert or music festival is dangerous specifically for, but not limited to women, males in the LGBTQ+ community, and music fans who identify as transgender. Walking into Sleeping Village for this event, I was overcome with hugs and greetings from friends all across the music scene. The sense of community at this event pulsed throughout the venue, and I was thrilled to see so many people out supporting such an important cause. This incredible welcoming energy extended to all points of Sleeping Village—from the dance floor, to behind the bar, and to the musicians on stage. I didn’t feel the need to fold my arms and hide myself in the back corner in order to enjoy some tunes; for the first time in a long time I enjoyed some music without feeling the need to physically close myself off from those around me in order to remain safe.
This evening of music started with The Edwards. Their sound made me wish it was summer again with my windows rolled down on the highway, a best bud on either side of me. They would be on the same playlist with some of my favorite Mac DeMarco tracks; with their perfectly smooth and warm tones. Their jams induced a nice groovy sway and head bop; I found myself rolling with the sound rather than fighting against it. After the show I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Murphy, a member of The Edwards. What Chris said about the band perfectly paralleled the event itself: Music based on collaborating; celebrating what each musician has to bring to the table. With three guitars and a trumpet on stage, their sound dived deep into exploring how these very different musicians come together to create a unique and cohesive sound. Be on the lookout for more live performances from The Edwards coming your way in February.
Following The Edwards was Thee Casual Hex accompanied by face paint, some psychedelic realness, and some pretty amazing polka dot garments. The disco ball in Sleeping Village came alive the moment this group stepped onstage. Similar to The Edwards, a diverse group of musicians that meshed perfectly to create a 60’s inspired jamming set. When I spoke to guitarist/vocalist/band member Alice Kraynak after the show, the 60’s glamor the band exuded was made even more apparent. Whether it was Alice’s fur coat, face paint, or polka dot dress I am still unsure, but she emanated the mod style and influence that are clearly at the base of Thee Casual Hex’s sound. The band’s sound perfectly encapsulates psychedelic vibes from the 60’s while still paying tribute to modern psych bands; Remembering the past while celebrating the future. Alice made clear that Thee Casual Hex is so excited to continue making and playing music; be on the lookout for some live shows after the New Year. It’ll be a far out time.
Before the final set of the night, the collaborative project of songwriter and producer Andrew Humphrey, Sun Cop, took the stage and remained just as collaborative onstage as off the stage. Pooky’s Duncan Lee took on double duty and played with Sun Cop, while the evening’s DJ Cadien Lake James also made an appearance to sing a tune with Andrew and the band.
Closing out the evening was the electric Pooky. I have seen the boys of Pooky play a few times now and they never fail to put a smile on my face; red and sweaty from dancing. Their clear bond and enjoyment for the music makes me want to be onstage next to them. With a wide range of tunes, this band can make you want to jump around one second and have you slowly head bopping the next. With a sound that roars, Pooky’s vocals paired with some major shredding will have you immediately searching where they are playing next by the end of their set. A dynamic and truly entertaining group that never fails to amaze, Pooky is a band to keep your eye on in 2019. You can also catch them one last time in 2018; at The SubT on December 20th with Engine Summer, Rainbow James and Rabbit Folk.
All in all, the artists in the Chicago music scene set the stage for how to create a consensual music environment, and each band that performed at this show was a huge reason said space existed. These bands are making it clear that community is at the root of all their work; Respect for the music, respect for other musicians, and most importantly respect for their audiences. I am excited to know that bands such as these work, create, and share music with these ideals at the forefront. May all Chicago bands follow in their footsteps to create live music spaces that are fun, communal, and most importantly: safe!
If you couldn’t make it to the show, but would still like to show your support for Our Music, My Body, you can snag some of their merch here, or donate to either of their parent organizations.
Last but not least, head over to Beyond The Music’s site to vote for your favorite edit by the three featured photographers who covered the showcase: Emma Zanger, Colt Liles, and Maggie McInerney.