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If you take away anything from Bust Out Boston, it’s that there’s no one “right time” to highlight womxn and gender nonconforming musicians. The right time is all the time.
The upcoming five-day fest at The Burren in Somerville joins a multitude of other Boston-area events this year that deliberately put women, female-identifying, and non-binary artists on center stage, using the term “womxn” to convey and acknowledge the spectrum of identities on the lineup. Certainly, the political climate of 2018 underscores the importance of representation, but from Donna Summer to Kay Hanley, Bust Out Boston producer Brooke Feinberg says that the fest could have easily made its debut years ago.
“I think Boston has always been rich in female and non-binary musicians,” Feinberg says. “Boston's history is a legacy of powerful womxn in music, so any time would be the right time to start Bust Out Boston. September 2018 seems like a good time to amplify women's voices -- our very rights are in peril as the current SCOTUS nominee is being questioned. It is always the right time to pay attention to marginalized voices. Of course, there is a sense of urgency right now and intersectional feminism is of utmost importance as we fight for civil rights.”
Feinberg, who also drums for Radium Girls, reiterates that the talent isn’t anything new, but the emphasis on ample representation is. Enlisting acts from every part of the genre and gender spectrum, the variety of all 30-plus artists stretches from folk veteran Melissa Ferrick to indie up-and-comers Mint Green and heavy metal act Aversed. The affects of similar representation, Feinberg says, are easy to spot already.
“I volunteer with Girls Rock Campaign Boston where girls and gender nonconforming youth spend time seeing womxn of all races and identities be themselves playing all sorts of music and constantly questioning harmful norms, and I see the impact on their self-worth rise exponentially,” Feinberg adds. “Representation is a constant reminder that there is no one right way to be, aside from fair and supportive.”
Optimistically, the rise of Bust Out Boston and similar events, like October's inaugural Local Behavior fest, signals two things: One, that such womxn-focused bills will eventually mean that artists don’t need to plan out that kind of representation and that it will come more naturally, and two, that “lady rock” nights will taper off as a result, either because there’s no need for them or because specific events use more inclusive language.
“The era where musicians have to grin and bear ‘Chick rock night’ or 'Lady rockers night’ is hopefully starting to be bygone," Feinberg says.
Flip through all the artists taking the stage at The Burren this weekend below.