The NXT LVL x She Shreds J20 Party at PICA was the place to be Saturday night. The 10,000-square foot performance space was full of booths selling raffle tickets and merch, with projections on every wall and hundreds of attendees who didn’t shy away from bringing looks. MC Jen Tam (local comedian, artist, and guitarist of the punk band Vog) kept things moving and provided between-set laughs throughout the show.
Rising Portland star Blossom was up first, easing the crowd into the night with her soulful R&B and commanding stage presence, oozing confidence and looking fly as hell. Next was Sávila, who mesmerized with a constant shake of the maracas and swirling guitar lines.
Guayaba brought it with her deep flow over beats that pull from a variety of influences, from trip hop to merengue. Her track "Basura Negra" elicited cheers with the line “I am fat and I am queer, and I am poor, Black, and maybe even ugly, but I'm here.” She was followed by fellow Seattleite SassyBlack (formerly of TheeSatisfaction), whose rich, jazzy delivery and between-song banter charmed the audience.
Los Angeles punk band Fuck U Pay Us took the stage with a confrontational attitude rare to Portland and demanded the crowd to get on board with their anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-bigot agenda of decolonization before launching into the music. Uhuru Ali Moor and Jasmine Nyende traded off vocals, screaming about reparations, the patriarchy, and indigenous suffering over some seriously fat riffs and sparse but heavy drums. FUPU even called out hipster activism, warning the crowd that posers won’t be tolerated in the revolution.
DJs Mami Miami (Mercury contributor Emilly Prado) and Lucha (Luz Elena Mendoza of Y La Bamba) closed out the night with a dance party, mixing contemporary bangers and classic Latin jams.
In the sea of people, there were women dancing—really dancing—some with their arms around each other’s shoulders, others with their hands in the air, and plenty of excited faces happy to be supporting local organizations and artists of color. However, as NXT LVL head Fran Bittakis and She Shreds founder Fabi Reyna reminded everyone, the fight to resist the current administration and uplift women of color, queer, and trans folks continues every day.
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