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. 32: Flume, Amtrac, Miguel, and more delicious tunes

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As the mounds of snow and ice slowly melted and DC returned to its mindful hum, there was plenty of time spent snuggling indoors during this week’s post-blizzard apocalypse to find some swell little tunes. Though sipping hot chocolate and watching the snow fall as you stare out the window is a great way to pass the time, I think I speak for everyone in the Northeast when I saw that a sense of cabin fever was REAL in the aftermath of winter storm Jonas.

With that in mind, this week’s mix is heavy on tracks that will make you wanna get up and bust a move, even if it’s just using your living room as your private dance floor. New original tracks from Flume and Amtrac are the standout songs this week, but peppered through the playlist are new offerings from Gryffin, Autograf, oshi, Miguel, and GTA.

Get at it!

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!

Eric Prydz does it again with a new track ahead of his album release, “Opus”

If you’ve followed this blog at all previously, you know by now that I fan girl for Eric Prydz, hard. He’s one of my all-time favorite producers who has managed to keep his music fresh, fun, and, most importantly, insulated from the bullshit associated with dance music these days. So when a genius like Prydz teams up with an equally talented producer like Rob Swire, you know to expect something special.

“Breathe” delivers just that, foregoing some of the qualities from Prydz’s anthemic house catalogue in favor of nostalgic, retro vibes. The track is a welcome experiment from these two stellar producers, and I can’t wait to see what else Prydz has to show us when “Opus” drops on Feb. 5.

In other exciting Prydz news, Epic 4.0 is returning this year! Here are the tour dates if you’re interested in buying tickets:

Feb. 12, 13, and 14 — New York City

Feb. 19 and 20 — Los Angeles

Feb. 26 and 27 — San Francisco

 

Weekly Mix Vol. 28: Good Vibes with Moullinex, Major Lazer, and JayKode

Last Thursday, I danced the night away at Ultrabar. With my bestie by my side, I was swept away by Jeremy Olander’s meticulously crafted 2-hour set. To top off an already incredible evening, my girl Nicole and I even got to meet Jeremy thanks to a little help from some new friends. Just in case you were wondering, he’s a super nice, friendly guy!

I woke up Friday morning feeling wildly energized about this blog. There are so many exciting producers making a name for themselves that it’s hard to simply choose a handful to assemble into a weekly mix. This week, however, wasn’t difficult to edit. As soon as I heard each of these tracks, I knew they were exactly what needed to be part of this playlist.

I hope you love these tunes as much as I do. Happy listening!

 

Back Then: Remember That Time Someone Combined Flume and the Notorious B.I.G. Into a Compilation Album?

The first time I heard Flume’s song “Sleepless” I remember feeling completely captivated by its dreamy flow. It’s the kind of track that reminds listeners of the potential for electronic music to be more than just drops, transcending into a realm where each sound is carefully crafted and strategically placed to achieve a balanced and melodic whole that’s still completely danceable.

Flume, real name Harley Edward Streten, is one of the best young producer’s making electronic music today. His self-titled debut album was released in Australia at the end of 2012 (February 2013 in the U.S.) and I still listen to is constantly. When remixes started to surface after the album’s official release, one in particular really caught my attention: “Juicy Insane.” The track is a combination of Flume and the Notorious.

The two may not seem like they go together, but oh, oh they do!

Yesterday, I was reminded that this gem exists on the internet (shout out to my best Gchat bud Benn Wineka for this one!) and I felt compelled to share it as a fun throwback Thursday post today. This 30-minute album mix fuses some of the Notorious B.I.G.’s greatest songs with tracks off of Flume’s critically-acclaimed debut album. The result is surprisingly amazing — one of the greatest rappers in the history of his genre side by side with one of the best young producers working today. The geniuses responsible are Aussie producers Jaymee Franchina and Jeremy Smith. And for that, I thank them.

Tracklist:
0:00 Ezra’s limit
4:15 Sintra’s Dead Wrong
7:18 Juicy Insane
11:07 Party Changes Are Bullshit
14:21 Party Girl Anthem
16:55 Warm Suicidal Thoughts
19:07 Space Cadet Struggle
21:14 Having Starry Eyes is a Deadly Combination
24:11 Can I Get Wit Ya In Zimbabwe
27:25 Big Poppa is Sleepless

 

Weekly Mix Vol. 26: The Week’s Best Remixes featuring DJ Snake, Flume, and T-Mass

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

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

If you’re still floating in a post- Fourth of July fog, you’re certainly not alone. After a weekend of too much of, well, everything, going back to work on Monday was both physically and mentally taxing. If you’ve done nothing but head straight home to be one with your couch at 6 p.m. every day, you’ll find absolutely no judgement here.

Thankfully, another weekend now feels within reach! Whether you’re gathering the strength to rally for another round of booze-fueled festivity or planning a low-key escape at home, you’ll still need some new music to help you slug through the work week en route to two days of bliss.

This week’s playlist is essentially all remixes, but that’s only because there were too many standout tracks to choose from! I couldn’t just pick two or three, so I decided to include them all. On Monday, Thump premiered a new batch of remixes of Tchami’s track “After Life.” All of them brought something new and unique to the song, but the DJ Snake and Mercer remix was far and away the best of the bunch. Also on top of the remix game is Aussie star producer Flume. He put his signature spin on the Collarbones track “Turning,” transforming the tune into an unpredictable journey of musical sounds.

I’ve been posting a lot of music from T-Mass lately and this is largely because I’m convinced he’s going to be a big, big name in trap soon — more on him in an upcoming post on Friday! His latest effort is what can only be described as a super-remix. Sampling tracks from Jack U, Porter Robinson, Kaskade, and Deadmau5, “Language for Now” is the perfect summer mash-up song. It’s trap that isn’t too heavy on the bass drops, meaning even people who hate sounds typically characterized as “EDM Trap” can get into this tune.

In addition to fantastic remixes from Grum, Chris Lake, Ale Mora, and Krs., this mix also includes new original tracks from Pryda, ATTLAS, DIMMI & Goldfish, and Little Boots.

 

Finally, not included in the mix but absolutely necessary as a part of your life, here is the new Migos track. There’s nothing like some Migos to put a smile on my face, no matter how absurd the lyrical value of the song. “Pipe It Up” will appear on the group’s new album, “Y.R.N.: Tha Album” set for release July 31.


 

*Special note to DC-based friends: DJ Snake will be at Echostage on August 18! I saw him at Ultra Music Festival 2014 and his show was a raucous, high-energy dance party. If you’re into his music, he’s worth seeing live.

 

Booze and Beats: Your 4th of July Playlist for a Perfect Weekend of Festivities

Happy 4th of July from the nation's capital!

Happy 4th of July from the nation’s capital!

The smell of juicy burgers sizzling on the grill, cheerful bursts of laughter as friends catch up, and buzzed feeling of joy from a few too many beers — ah, yes, it’s the annual celebration of America’s birthday! A day of partying and indulgence that should only be fueled by the best summer tunes.

Though I’m still not entirely sure how I’ll be celebrating over the holiday weekend (hopefully by a pool sipping an endless supply of mojitos) I expect to be happy, buzzed, and listening to great tunes. And since it’s ALWAYS a bad idea to assume the music will be good at a party, I’ve created a nifty little Fourth of July mix that I will stealthily be trying to play anywhere I go — and you should too.

This party playlist starts out with some upbeat tropical/funk house/future house vibes and gets more progressive as it unravels. There are some definitive songs of summer on this mix as well as some lesser-known tracks. No matter what you vibe, there’s something for everyone here!

Have a happy, safe, and vibin’ Fourth of July, everyone! xx

Festival Field Guide: The Ten Essential Items to Have in Your Bag

The Main Stage at Ultra Music Festival 2013

The Main Stage at Ultra Music Festival 2013

When I was on my festival spree in 2013, I made a promise to myself: “I will only go to festivals until I turn 25.

Ha, ha ha.

Now that my quarter-century celebration has come and gone, I’ve obviously thrown that promise my 22-year-old self made to my future self rightfully out the window. I realize now that assigning a cut off point was a ridiculous idea. I love festivals. I love being in a crowd of thousands of people dancing, singing, and enjoying life. There’s a magnetic energy in that kind of atmosphere that can’t be recreated anywhere else, and I’m not ready to give it up yet.

I’m sure that somewhere in the Governor’s Ball crowd this weekend, there will be a group of youngins looking at my friends and me like we’re old farts who don’t belong – because I once gave people my age those exact same looks. But the best part about being 25 and heading to a festival? I now know exactly how to do a festival the right way!

And it begins with packing your bag with all the items you’ll need to ensure you have a safe and fabulous time all day. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a crowd of 10,000 people and realizing that you forgot something important. Plus, anything sold on the grounds of the festival will be absurdly expensive, so you definitely don’t want to resort to buying items there.

These are the ten essentials I’ll have in my purse when I head to Gov Ball this weekend:

1) Sunscreen

It’s officially summer, so even if the forecast is for overcast skies, the sun’s rays can still have a harmful effect on your body. Pick up a travel-sized bottle of your go-to brand and lather up frequently! You will NOT look sexy on day 2 if you’re red in the face.

2) Sunglasses

I usually take festivals as an opportunity to buy a completely ridiculous pair of cheap sunnies that I wouldn’t otherwise wear – and, most importantly, wouldn’t mind losing. Giant heart shape? 1970s vibe purple aviators? American flag lenses? Yes, yes, and hell yes.

3) Hand Sanitizer

The bathroom situation at these things is always questionable. Also, you never know when you may need to sanitize. What if that guy who looks like Sasquatch grabs your hand while you’re walking through the crowd?

4) Tissues

How many times have you walked into a porta-potty only to realize there is no TP? Follow the Boy Scouts on this one and “always be prepared.”

5) Advil, band aids, and Tums

A mini first aid kit could mean the difference between having an amazing experience and a totally shitty day. If you suddenly get a headache, minor cut, or stomachache you’ll waste so much time seeking out a medic on the grounds. Bring your own for minor emergencies!

6) ZipLoc Bag

Festivals in the rain can be fun – as long as you’re prepared. Umbrellas and ponchos are useless. If it rains hard, you’re going to be soaking wet no matter what, so you may as well embrace it. However, the last thing you want is for your phone to get soaking wet. A high-quality Ziploc bag will protect your phone, cash, cards, and tissues!

7) Portable phone charger

I have a first world problem fear of my phone dying on me at a festival. Between taking photos and video, texting friends to try and meet up, and posting things on Insta, my old iPhone’s battery dies absurdly fast. These handy little portable chargers from Anker are TINY and will help you stay connected throughout your experience.

8) Ear plugs

Yes, I’m old. This really needs no explanation.

9) Lip balm

This is not entirely vain – your lips need to be protected from the sun too! Given how dirty festivals are, you might want to take a lip balm that doesn’t require you to use your finger for application. EOS pods are my favorite!

10) Water bottle

Given the number of health incidents that have occurred at festivals over the past few years, a lot of events will allow you to take an empty water bottle into the venue. DO SO IF YOU CAN. Water bottles are so overpriced at festivals (anywhere from $10-20) and most of these events have designated areas where you can fill your bottle for the price of on the house.

There you have it! If you’re going with a group of people (which I sincerely hope everyone would be) divvy up these essential items between everyone. You really never know when this festival checklist could save the day!

In honor of my upcoming weekend adventure, I made a special playlist featuring my favorite remixes of artists who will be making an appearance at Governor’s Ball. Some of these remixes are very old; others were released just this week. I had a lot of fun putting this mix together and I hope you all like it as much as I do!

 

Weekly Mix Vol. 24: Major Lazer, Jeremy Olander, Flume, and More

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Major Lazer at Ultra 2014 in Miami, FL

 

Diplo is at his very best when he’s working on Major Lazer projects. I’ve been saying this for years, but never has it been made more apparent than as I listened to “Peace Is The Mission.”

It’s easy to write the guy off as a total hack. Most of the tracks he’s released solo over the past few years have been complete trash — save his biggest hits like “Revolution” and “Express Yourself,” his astonishingly good remix of “Drunk In Love,” and a handful of remix collabs with Grandtheft — and his festival performances have been fun but uninspired. So when you listen to an album like “PITM” and find yourself totally vibing to the unique mix of sounds that helped launch Diplo to the level of superstardom he’s achieved, there’s an added element of pleasure beyond just listening to great music. There’s the moment of satisfaction when you realize an artist you had started to completely write off has still got the magical quality you first fell in love with. It’s nostalgia. And there’s nothing more powerful than that sentiment.

Several tracks off the album had already been released as singles, namely the (in my opinion) song of the year “Lean On” but I’ve included two tracks off “Peace Is The Mission” in this week’s mix. They’re both unexpected Major Lazer collaborations, one with Wild Belle and the other with Ariana Grande, that feature the distinctive island sound that’s defined Major Lazer since they started making music.

In addition to two great Major Lazer tracks, this week’s playlist is loaded with new music from some of the best producers in the game right now, including Jeremy Olander (Sweden), Flume (Australia), and 20Syl (France) — yes, a very international selection this week!

Put those headphones on and vibe. Happy rest of the week! And stay tuned for a special Governor’s Ball playlist and post coming Friday…