Girlpool to Bring Female Voices to ’Sco

Sophie Kemp

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“I thought I found myself today/ No one noticed / Things are ok,” are the opening lyrics to punk rock band Girlpool’s song “Ideal World” from its eponymous new album, which explores intimate experiences of girlhood: an existence that is often messy and terrifying but also beautiful. Started in 2013 by guitarist Cleo Tucker and bassist Harmony Tividad, Girlpool will make its ’Sco debut this Friday, Oct. 9, with an opener by fivepiece New York riot grrrl act T-Rextasy. The double bill is indicative of an increased effort by concert organizers to sign non-cisgender, non-male bands to play at the ’Sco. At present, conventional male artists who frequently bring expensive noise-distorting equipment to the stage continually dominate the venue. Just this week, a total of four almost entirely all-male acts dominated bills: Ought is an all-male band, while Lower Dens and Pleasure Leftists have only one non-male-identifying member. T-Rextasy and Girlpool will hopefully bring a needed change of pace.

In the song “Chinatown,” Girlpool explores themes of self-doubt, loves past and present and mortality with lines like, “If I loved myself, would I take it the wrong way?” Its first LP, Before the World Was Big, is filled with tracks that question the audacity of youth and what being a woman means. Before the World Was Big has received positive critical reception on music sites like Pitchfork and Rolling Stone.

Girlpool’s appearance is timely, coming not long after the release of the group’s second EP Ideal World, released on Wichita Recordings — the same label to which Waxahatchee and Cloud Nothings are signed. Tucker and Tividad, both vocalists, are known for crafting intimate and relatable lyrics, which makes sense given that they are college-aged.

Girlpool is one of the first shows College sophomore Lyris Schulman has booked, and it’s one of the acts she says she is most excited about. A member of Oberlin’s Concert Board, the organization responsible for bringing artists to the ’Sco, Schulman also performs vocals and writes songs for T-Rextasy. Schulman contacted Girlpool over the summer with fellow Concert Board member and College senior Ivan Krasnov, and the band accepted. “I feel really proud,” Schulman said. “I think they’re really refreshing from the bands that come here; I think they’re more emotional than what we see. I like that they’re not dudes, and I can relate to their experiences.”

Annie Fidoten (bass), Schulman (vocals), Vera Kahn (guitar), Ebun Nazon-Power (drums) and Lena Abraham (guitar) — the members of T-Rextasy — met while in high school in New York City and shared a desire to make music in a male-dominated scene. College sophomore Moira Peterson recalls seeing the band play in Brooklyn. She said she was in awe of Schulman’s stage presence and thought the sight of a female drummer was rare and exciting. T-Rextasy went on to play some of the biggest DIY venues in the city, including Citi Field, ABC No Rio and Silent Barn.

Fidoten said that she is proud of a lot of the shows T-Rextasy has played. “Last year, we got to be a part of Grrrl Fest, which is this amazing music festival all about empowering musicians and performers,” she said. Fidoten’s songs will be featured on the band’s upcoming album, which is scheduled to come out sometime this winter.

T-Rextasy’s recent success is unsurprising. The band’s lyrics are emotional but often hilarious. In the song “I Wanna Be A Punk Rocker,” the lyrics lament marrying a man named David Cohen and having a future on the Upper East Side. Much of the DIY scene is populated by low-energy acts, but T-Rextasy’s music is meant for dancing. With two acts so driven by female experience, it is difficult to imagine any other alternative.

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