Girlschool 2018 At The Bootleg, Sunday February 4th 2018
Sunday was a bit quieter at Girlschool – despite the bomb that was Leikeli47— but still very interesting and super eclectic. If the festival promotes bands from all over the place, two local heroes (to me) brought the Bootleg to their knees, Lauren Ruth Ward, fresh from her month-long residency at the Echo, and Moon Honey, who also had a residency last year.
After a songwriting workshop by Muna, another panel with Eve Barlow, Francisca Valenzuela, Raye Zaragoza about immigration and creativity, and poetry curated by Jack Jones Literary arts, the glittery synth dream pop of Polartropica took the Cherry stage, with a frontgirl looking like a sparkling queen under the spotlights, and I am not just saying this because they covered Sparks’ This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both of Us’. Their epic Electro-Synth GlitterPop, as they call it, was looking good with their cosmic silver outfits, and their bubblegum style was in complete opposition with the next act, Chelsea Jade and her more stripped down approach. With her Tilda Swinton look, she was filling the room with her sensual dream pop surrounded by a vague R&B vibe, hard beats, ethereal vocals, two back up singers and weird dance moves… Leikeli 47 arrived on stage with a mask that she kept the entire time, and immediately conquered the crowd with her funny rap songs. Her flow and infectious tempo were so good, that they made everyone dance and move as soon as she started… Even without understanding everything of what she was saying, she hit the stage like a thunder, and her very upbeat performance may have stolen the night, but I could also tell you that Jay Z recently put her infectiously twerking anthem ‘Fuck the Summer Up’ at the top of his Tidal playlist.
Low Leaf calmed down the night with their smooth jazz-infused spacey songs, and a very eclectic set of instruments, including an electric harp and a flute on stage. They were flirting at times with folk songs, Bossa Nova, while drawing their most obvious inspiration from jazz.
Lauren Ruth Ward’s set was a hit, this woman has just an amazing grace when she is on stage. As usual, she interpreted her catchy songs with an extraordinary passion and her very personal and powerful howl, fragile and strong at the same time, which sort of reminds me of Fiona Apple’s. She has been compared to Janis Joplin, Florence Welch, Courtney Barnett, so Lauren is about to become a big star, there’s no doubt about it, she is taking the world by storm and nobody can stop her – she even has an upcoming show at the legendary Troubadour. On stage, she wanted to reach everybody’s soul and arm, with a stomping heart-ravaging performance, and honestly it was difficult to resist to such charm.
Moon Honey was another delicacy of the evening, weird and dreamy, rocking out in their colorful soundscapes, haunted by Jessica Ramsey’s Kate Bush-esque operatic vocals and animated by Andrew Martin’s rock bravado guitar. I have already attempted to describe their inventive songs, her vibrating powerhouse high-octave howls, their delicate multi-influenced chaos, abruptly shifting from freaky pop to some heavy hitting rock or even funky phrases, but basically, Moon Honey has to be experienced live, as they want to sell us a dream-house all wrapped up within an amped-up rock sound.
Girlschool, even on a school night, had even more to offer with Soccer Mommy, a much more low-key act which is currently on the rise with her ‘sad girl music’ reputation. The music was certainly mournful and sang with a true melancholia, while I was looking at Best Coast’s Bobb Bruno watching her entire performance at the corner of the stage.
Two rising stars ended the long weekend of music, Bosco, a dreamy R&B singer from Atlanta, and Jay Som, led by Melina Duterte and her emotional vocals above a shoegazing music with unexpected detours.
In three days, Girlschool had surely a lot to offer, it was a celebration of women’s talents from all horizons, a testimony of the diversity of the female soundscapes, with plenty to discover and appreciate. After this 3-day weekend, the festival is certainly a force to reckon with, although I am not sure how they will be able to outdo this year’s excellent line up for their next edition.