Where them girls at? The plight of being a woman outnumbered at shows

Schoolboy Q at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC

It was one of the hottest days Washington D.C. has seen in 2016, 8:30 p.m. and still registering almost 90 degrees. I bopped along V street with an extra bounce that seemed to accelerate with every step I took toward the 9:30 Club. Sporting a t-shirt from Kanye West’s 2014 Yeezus Tour, black jeans, and custom Adidas, I was particularly feeling myself – and a bright red lip tied the whole street style vibe together.

Schoolboy Q was the headliner that night, an artist I’ve followed since before his solo days when he formed the hip-hop collective Black Hippy (S/O to Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, and Kendrick Lamar!). I wasn’t an early fan, but when I first heard the group back in 2010 I was hooked. “Setbacks” was a strong start for Schoolboy Q as a solo artist and its follow-up, “Habits and Contradictions” was my favorite album of 2012. “Hands on the Wheel” is still one of my most played songs ever on iTunes. It was that perfect blend of sampling, production, and verbiage. It was immediate and euphoric. I couldn’t get enough of that track. His major label debut, “Oxymoron” maintained the same level of intensity as its predecessor. From “Los Awesome” to “Studio,” “What They Want” to “Man of the Year,” the album was track after track of pure production gold. And now, just two weeks ago, Schoolboy Q released his latest album “Blank Face LP” another critical success.

I had never seen the rapper perform live and I was downright giddy when I made it to the club and got into the absurdly long security line to enter 9:30.

“You can come right this way, honey,” a pleasant security woman said to me. “Oh no, that’s fine. I’d like to stay with my friend,” I replied. As soon as the words came out of my mouth I realized there were two lines: one for men and one for women. The security was particularly intense that night, perhaps as a result of the tragedies that seem to continue unfolding right in front of us on the evening news every day. Each attendee was frisked so thoroughly that it felt like going through TSA. So, I acquiesced. I waved good-bye to my friend and said “I’ll see you inside.”

My line had exactly zero people standing in it.

Once inside the venue I realized I had quite some time to kill before meeting up with my friend again. I walked around, scoping out the crowd and looking through the merchandise table, when I noticed something that honestly shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did. I was one of maybe 50 women in a club with a capacity of 1,200.

Nothing makes me more indignant than listening to smug men try to argue that women have bad taste in music. There’s still so much latent sexism when it comes to this subject, to the point that women who are real fans find themselves having to defend their passion within their own music communities. If you can’t name a specific song from an album (and not just any album, oh no, you must be an expert in special releases as well) you are an impostor that must be exposed for the silly female fraud that you are. It’s insulting and it’s exhausting. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if I was at a show “because my boyfriend likes the band” I’d be a very rich woman.

I looked around the club and saw a wonderfully diverse crowd – black, white, Hispanic, young, old, hip, not-so-hip – but the gender gap was there, and it was the starkest I’d ever seen.

Schoolboy Q’s performance was fire emoji perfection. Because the show was a “pit stop” and not part of his official tour, he was very loose on stage and openly admitted to having no set list. He frequently engaged with the crowd, asking us what songs we wanted to hear, then going off on the mic. He also bantered with the audience and threw bottles of water into the sweaty, rapturous crowd. “None of y’all are gonna die tonight!” he joked with a big smile on his face. The crowd’s reaction to “Man of the Year” was without a doubt the most hype I’ve ever seen folks get at 9:30 and I was grinning like a moron when he came back out for an encore with “What They Want.”

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Maybe Schoolboy Q was too specific of a show to ponder the notion of underrepresentation of women at live music venues. He certainly hasn’t achieved Kendrick Lamar’s level of universal adoration, but hip-hop is no longer a genre exclusive to the male listener. I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason women hesitate to attend those shows is because they worry they will find themselves in my situation – vastly outnumbered by intoxicated men in a crowded semi-public place. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, particularly if you aren’t accustomed to the sweaty, cramped space-invading encroachment that is unavoidable at a place like the 9:30 club, when you see no female compatriots to latch onto should you start to feel unsafe. It makes perfect sense given the statistics surrounding sexual assault and bars. Approximately 25% of women will experience some form of sexual assault in their adolescence or early adulthood, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and about half of those crimes occur when the perp was under the influence of booze. When you start to dig into the statistics surrounding women’s safety, and the circumstances in which these awful crimes tend to unfold, it starts to make sense that perhaps women don’t feel entirely safe at concerts – particularly at smaller venues where alcohol is typically cheaper and there is less security. It may not even be a conscious connection. But rather years and years of gendered (and valid) paranoia.

We’ve come a long way since “On the Equality of the Sexes” but as I stood in that 1% of the crowd at Schoolboy Q, I realized we’ve got a long way to go.

This was the first in a series of essays about women and music.

Weekly Mix Vol. 31: From Flume to Future

Flume at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC. July 24, 2014.

Flume at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC. July 24, 2014.

The process of finding great new songs can feel pretty daunting at times, especially when a few weeks go by that feel void of anything worthy of sharing. Thankfully, that spell was broken during the past few days, when I discovered so many great new tunes that I actually felt compelled to post about a few of them individually. But, dear friends, I have not forgotten the weekly mix — though it may have seemed like I did, given, you know, my ghostly silence.

This week’s collection of tunes spans the genre scheme quite a bit. The obvious choice to kick things off is Flume’s amazing new track “Never Be Like You” featuring Kai. If you’re a Flume fan, you’ll smile as soon as the track opens; Harley Edward Streten’s unique production work is instantly recognizable. The richly layered collaboration is exactly what fans have come to expect from the Australian producer and it’s glorious to blast in your headphones walking to work (verified by yours truly).

From there, things get deep with a new track from Eats Everything and a fantastic remix from Ben Pearce. Then serious house vibes take over; Lane 8, “Midnight”; Oliver Heldens & Throttle, “Waiting”; EDX, “Missing”; and Manilla Killa, “All That’s Left. Given my love for RAC, I couldn’t let the week go by without throwing his newest remix into the playlist. Though his “Beautiful Heartbeat” re-work isn’t his best effort, it’s still better than the majority of remixes out there, because the dude just knows what he’s doing.

Finally, things wrap up with two hip hop tracks: “Yamborghini High” and “Wicked.” The former is an A$AP Mob track dedicated to A$AP Yams, who passed away just a little over a year ago. It doesn’t feature any of the psychedelic elements that made A$AP Rocky’s last album, “At. Long. Last. A$AP.”,  so interesting, but he does rap about one of my favorite things: “Yeah, I wake up late, ” Rocky raps, “Yeah, I’m out of shape/ Yeah, I’m eatin’ crêpes.” Looks like he and I have something in common after all. “Wicked” is featured on Future’s latest mixtape “Purple Reign.” The track was produced by Metro Boomin and  Southside. It’s dark and moody, like coming out of a haze after a house party that spiraled out of control. It certainly won’t be everybody’s idea of a great hip hop song, but it’s one of my favorites off “Purple Reign,” which you should really do yourself a favor and download in full here.

Happy listening!

Turn Up Tuesdays Vol. 7

With a little less than a week before I dive back into the 9-to-5 grind, I’m doing my best to soak up these last moments of work-free relaxation. Most of my friends went back to work yesterday after much-needed holiday trips — and the general consensus is that going back to work has been brutal. If you’re also feeling a little overwhelmed by the prospect of actually being productive post-holiday food coma and Netflix binges, this playlist should help perk your mood right up!

I’m off to enjoy 85 degree weather while I still can. Then it’s back to DC’s frigid temps on Thursday!

Your New Year’s Eve 2014 Playlists, Courtesy of Leather & Bourbon

As my mom putters around the house, enthusiastically planning every detail of tonight’s festivities, I’ve been thinking about all the effort that goes into planning a great party. Table decor, floral arrangements, food, champagne, champagne, champagne — there’s a lot to think about if you want to throw a memorable New Year’s Eve bash. But no matter how much effort goes into party planning, it’s a universal fact that a party will tank if the music isn’t on point.

It doesn’t matter if weeks went into the menu and Veuve Clicquot flows like a river, in the end it’s all about the tunes.

It took me a while to sort through all of the tracks I loved this year. Sometimes it takes revisiting your entire SoundCloud history to realize just how much amazing music was released over the past 12 months. The Spotify playlist is a mix of hip-hop, dance, pop, and house; The SoundCloud compilation is remix heavy, with an emphasis on genre-fusing songs as well as big anthem tracks that filled festival stages all summer long.

I already got emotional about New Year’s Eve in my last post, so I will leave this as is. I hope you enjoy these playlists as much as I do!

Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL xx

 

Turn Up Tuesdays Vol. 4

Having made my way through five seasons of The Good Wife over the course of the past two weeks, it’s completely acceptable to judge me for the way I’ve been spending my free time. Luckily, that has not hindered my determination to seek out the week’s best tunes, and my-oh-my this week was glorious! I’ve been a huge fan of Fehrplay for a while (shout out to Ty Francis for that!) and his remix of Royksopp’s “Sordid Affair” is a glorious tech-house track perfectly encompassing his unique style.

As is always the case, Kaytranada brings his production flavor to  T.I & Young Thug’s “About Da $” and takes it to new levels of dope. This isn’t my favorite Kaytra remix, but he’s so good at what he does that it’s still leagues ahead of most stuff out there.

There’s plenty more great tunage from this week: Madeon, George Maple, Jean Deaux, Rae Sremmurd, and Tyga. So plug in!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Right Quick: The new Tyga video boasts a cheetah on a private plane surrounded by piles of cash and Goyard trunks. How could I not include this? “What the work like?” … if you’re Tyga, it’s pretty damn great.