IF THE '90s insist on making a comeback, at least that means we get a riot grrrl resurgence to balance out all that emo. Though the punk-feminist movement ended in disillusionment and infighting, the music of Allison Wolfe, Kathleen Hanna & Co. still feels relevant, and these days it's more accessible than ever (thanks internet!).
Enter: the Grrrl Front, a Portland festival now in its second year that explicitly taps into riot grrrl's punk-inflected DIY ethos.
Grrrl Front co-founder Lucia Fasano grew up in LA, where she was inspired from afar by Portland's music and art scene. Now a music-and-art-making Portlander herself, she was volunteering at Slabtown last year when the opportunity arose to organize an all-ages music festival at the venue.
"We thought, 'What if instead of just badass lady musicians, we have women being badass in all fields—comedy, art, videogames?'" explains Fasano, who conceived of Grrrl Front with Melissa MacFadyen. "I contacted Ron Funches, who I knew from LA, and he suggested Barbara Holm, Bri Pruett, Andie Main... It felt like riot grrrl comedy."
Ultimately, the weekend-long festival included bands, comedians, a zine workshop, a clothing swap, and a public demo of the Fullbright Company's award-winning videogame Gone Home. (The game's creators even used songs from a band they met at the festival, the Youngins, on the Gone Home soundtrack, alongside Bratmobile and Heavens to Betsy.)
This year, the Grrrl Front has moved to the Tonic Lounge; Fasano says the fest will be "similar, but a little less ramshackle." (One key difference: The Tonic is a 21-and-over venue, which means pint-sized grrrls are outta luck. Fasano, who's 21, emphasizes that they remain "passionate" about all-ages access, and hope to produce all-ages shows in the future.)
The lineup is split between musicians and comics; headliners include the Doubleclicks, Palo Verde, Bri Pruett, and Kristine Levine.
"What I really wanted was musicians and music fans watching comedy, and comedians and comedy fans watching music," Fasano explains. "It will all feel like valid art, it won't be like, 'I don't want to listen to this person talking because there isn't a drum.'"
Part of the Grrrl Front's mission includes supporting local nonprofits that help women; 60 percent of proceeds from this weekend will go to support Bitch Media.