WASI’s EP Release Party At The Hi Hat, Friday May 12th 2017
This week, the LGBTQ community was hit by some awful news coming from one of their upcoming heroes, and we learnt that beloved band PWR BTTM may not be a hero after all. The members of the band are in hot water and they are now drowning after a number of sexual assault accusations have definitively tarnished their queer-glam reputation… The band T-Rextasy dropped out of their upcoming tour with them, they have cancelled their album launch party in New York, and they even have been dropped by their management on Friday, … Their label Polyvinyl is now offering refunds to people who had already purchased the record… Finding a hero is not easy, and you may be going through a lot of disappointing experiences.
I was reading about this let-down story before going to WASI’s EP release party at the Hi Hat, the riot pop duo are openly gay, and are using their music and songs to help raise awareness for feminism and gay rights. They have played feminist and LGBTQ events throughout the west coast, and I even attended their music event last year at the Smell, Women Fuck Shit Up Fest, a (gay) female empowering 2-day festival … WASI had a party last night at the HI Hat to celebrate their new EP, which was released on May 9th. This is what the band had to say about it: ‘The songs on this EP touches on our finding the power within ourselves. It touches base on our past as kids feeling lost in tender times to the power we find in our activism and community.’ It’s true that they directly addresses their activism in their songs, like during the funny and powerful ‘Pussy Grabs Back’ which screams ‘The world is just afraid of a different kind of change/a woman on a throne/a female kinda game.’ If the LGBTQ community is still in search of a hero after the PWR BTTM debacle, they should not look any further.
As any release party, the lineup was dense and diverse and the very young band Blushh opened the night. Fronted by the charming Shab Ferdowsi, their wide-eyed garage songs had a few punk accelerations, but they overall sounded very catchy and poppy with Shab’s dreamy vocals, whose high-energy high-octave ooo-ooos had some Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino’s accents.
Goon, the next band, had very interesting soundscapes, extra-layered, going from morose to grungy, I even thought they had obvious Nirvana-esque riffs during some of their stormy songs. I liked the way they were occupying the stage, sweeping the space musically and physically as guitarists and bassists were engaged into epic sonic fights. They describe themselves as ‘soul searching, planet hopping, comfort cultivating good time music’, and I found their set rather captivating with an appropriate song for the night called ‘Gay Rage’, and another one ‘Green Peppers’, which, according to what I have read, is curiously an ode to Taylor Swift?
WASI shifted the mood to an upbeat, fun and very riotous party. Fronted by Merilou Salazar and Jessie Meehan, their catchy pop songs were played with the most laid back attitude you can imagine, mixed with a very high-energy buoyancy, which barely went down during their set because of Merilou Salazar’s restless jumping and bouncing. Backed by a full band, the two women shared the vocal harmonies as well as an enthusiasm for potential sing-alongs. The band hit hard on drums, bass and keys, they bounced fast, and this often resulted into a super fun dance party even though the melancholia was surfacing when they sang during their opening song, ‘Floor Talk’: ‘Lights goes on and we’re dancing alone/till we grow up and don’t dance anymore/Life goes on and we’re dancing along /Till we grow up and don’t dance anymore’
Their catchy pop hooks were delivered with a chaotic and liberating punk dance with an hip hop hybridization at time, especially during their most die-hard disco dancefloor, the infectious ‘Can’t Dance’. Most of the songs sprawled with a heartfelt vibe, and this couldn’t be more true during a coming-out new song ‘Pseudo Halo’, and its hooky chorus – ‘I’ve been looking for a place to get out, get out, get out /you outsider’ – which I am sure resonated among the crowd.
After an acoustic interlude on the beach for ‘Beach Nights’, they resumed the riot and the party with balloons, fun and funk. Merilou Salazar and Jessie Meehan are two energetic frontwomen, who used their physical differences to fuel the party, if Salazar ended up parading on someone’s shoulders at one point, Meehan screamed on stage through a megaphone.
‘Coup’ is a great title for an EP which is supposed to empower people, these girls want to take over the world, and a coup has to inspire everyone, especially when it comes from underdogs fighting in a world too reluctant at accepting differences. On Friday night, WASI looked more like a community than an ordinary band, everyone was looking at the world through the band’s honest pop-synth eyes while engaging in a unstoppable riot.
Maddie Ross closed the night just after WASI’s tempest of fun, and she brought a somewhat darker mood to the stage. She delivered a very emotional and passionate performance, as there was something very cathartic in her music. I can understand why she was declared ‘the best DIY rock star you have never heard’ by Billboard magazine, the best queer DIY rock star, obviously!