I haven’t posted in a while, especially about music. I keep waiting for the right day, and since I pretend that I am not superstitious, today seems perfect. It’s Friday the 13th. (and it’s October)
For the last several months I have been receiving press emails about the female-led band Barb Wire Dolls. I went to the Tuesday show in San Francisco hoping that the band would be decent. I went to the Sacramento show the next day, because they were better than decent. (Most of) these photos are from the Sacramento show.
Last month I photographed “YES”, a band that was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. When I was younger, YES was one of my favorite bands. Their recent performance was excellent, but they lacked a new band’s hunger.
The Rock & Roll Class of 2018 Nominees have been announced since I photographed YES. The list underscores something that I continually questioned during the two days that I photographed Barb Wire Dolls.
Why aren’t women equal partners in the history of Rock & Roll?
I am hopeful that bands like Barb Wire Dolls are part of a larger societal change. It was clear from watching the Barb Wire Dolls that this band had enough energy and talent to become successful. Their music is not Top 40, so they will not be “popular,” but they can be influential.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame represents the older generations, but a small club welcomes the next generation (or in the Barb Wire Dolls case, the “Street Generation”). In those small clubs, it is possible to see a young woman with a strong voice lead a crowd of men. The new generation might be influenced by old “hair bands,” but there is a new style…
At least we can hope.
Oct 17th: I have continued organizing my photos and words past Friday the 13th when I originally posted. In addition to my thoughts about women and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I have been considering the impact of the Harvey Weinstein story. It feels as if we are undergoing a societal shift, but I wonder if we will ever know the long term consequences.
When I first saw Barb Wire Dolls take the stage at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco, I felt as though I were seeing something from a good Quentin Tarantino movie. The Barb Wire Dolls were fiercely loud and simultaneously layered. I hoped that Tarantino would create a movie or role for the band until I remembered his connection to Weinstein… and then I wondered how much Tarantino knew. How much did they all know?
During the last week, I have not heard enough commentators question Weinstein’s allies. We know that some women signed Non Disclosure Agreements, but many other people who worked in the entertainment industry did not sign NDA’s. They knew and said nothing.
My comments might seem irrelevant when discussing the future of a female-led rock band, and I hope these issues have nothing to do with the lack of women in Rock & Roll. However, it seems that some men have used their position to limit women to use their voices… and the band I saw last week is not afraid to use their voice.