Dec. 2, 2004
by BOB DORAN
QUEERCORE BLITZ, A PUNK MUSIC TOUR NAMED BY FOUNDER AND organizer Anna Jacobson-Leong for its fast barrage of concerts -- seven West Coast shows in nine days -- hits the Alibi in Arcata on Monday night.
Leong talked with the Journal from her home in New York City last week about punk music and about queers quelling the pressures to fit in and act nice with the straight masses.
"Whether it's conscious or not, a move toward assimilation and acceptance is natural, but at the same time, those of us on this tour and the queer punk community very much feel like we're not gonna dress in khakis and go to our banking jobs," Leong said. "We don't feel good about working in jobs that aren't good for the community or the environment. We feel strongly about our political values and I think that we put our political beliefs before social acceptance."
Queercore music focuses on gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender-queer rights with a punk rock sound and delivery -- which in general terms is usually fast and very loud. But even within the outpunk sub-genre there is a diversity of sound, something Leong considered when booking bands for the tour.
The four bands that will play the Alibi can appeal to hardened punk aficionados as well as those who prefer the easier-listening end of the punk spectrum. The lineup includes Dominatrix [lower photo], a feminist four-piece hardcore punk band from Brazil; Jack Queen, queer quartet from Portland with a Northwest riot grrl sound; The Dead Betties, super loud queer boy band from New York City; and Triple Crème [upper photo], punk-pop/alternative rockers, also queer, and also from the Big Apple.
Part of Leong's drive to get Queercore Blitz rolling was to see bands that wouldn't normally play on the same ticket in venues that were all-ages (the Alibi is the lone 21+ plus club on the lineup), and to host a tour rather than a festival -- in a sense bringing the music to the people, rather than making the concertgoers travel to a weekend-long music festival campout.
Brazilian band Dominatrix was started by sisters Elisa and Isabella Garguillo in 1995 when the girls were teenagers. Three self-released albums and two international tours later, the group has new members, including the replacement of Isabella with bassist Mayra Vescovi, and a more developed message.
"Our message is basically feminist," said Elisa Garguillo. "It's about queer politics, gender issues. We talk about how we should get free, stand up for our rights, say what we want to say and do whatever we want to do."
While the queer and feminist punk scene is beginning to gain steam in Sao Paulo -- Dominatrix' home base and the largest city in South America -- Elisa said that the road to punk stardom has not been an easy one, particularly with her family.
"They have no idea what feminism is, they don't have a clue. So it was really difficult for my sister and I because they thought it was some rebelling shit that would go away in a few years," Elisa said. The Latin sexism added to the difficulty. "The machismo is horrible because it's so condescending. Sexism is a really aggressive way to function here," she said.
Fighting fire with fire seemed the best way for the band to deal with discrimination. Leong described Dominatrix' music as in-your-face, political and energetic.
"I would call them hardcore; they're melodic, but it's angry, and they have a very explosive live act where they really jump right into the crowd. Anyone who likes hardcore punk would definitely love them," Leong said.
When we caught up with Triple Crème drummer Tiffany Wolf at her Brooklyn apartment last week she said the weather there was similar to what she remembered of Humboldt County -- 50 degrees and drizzling. Before moving to New York, Wolf studied political science at Humboldt State in the mid-`90s and upon graduation wanted to move to "the exact opposite of Humboldt County." New York was the obvious choice. Soon thereafter Triple Crème formed and has been together for seven years. Of all the bands on the tour, the NYC foursome has the most "mainstream" sound, which has been likened to alternative acts like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and PJ Harvey.
The pop-punk label doesn't seem to bother Wolf.
"Pop has bad implications and I don't think it needs to. So there's Britney Spears pop -- yuck. But then there's music out there that's considered pop because it's on the Top 40 that is really decent, like Modest Mouse. I'm really enjoying some of that right now. So I think that the positive aspect of pop is that it is more accessible for people."
The Queercore Blitz Tour comes to the Alibi in Arcata at 9:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 6. $5 at the door. 21+. 822-3731.
Comments? Write a letter!
© Copyright 2003, North Coast Journal, Inc.