When it comes to punk music, female representation is lacking. The power, anger and angst in the genre is more often than not exemplified by men. It becomes more difficult to identify this same angst when naming female artists. Though there are many powerful female voices that match or even surpass the talent and heat felt from the plethora of male-fronted punk bands, the public eye seems to be locked on a picture of female artists that paints a soft-spoken, indie girl crooning with more sadness than anger.
Opening up the night at the Hawthorne Theatre, Santa Ana singer-songwriter Miya Folick came onto stage sporting a floral dress, a beret and red-tinted sunglasses. Everything about her appearance screamed “indie girl." This first impression was drawn out with her opening tune, a soft singer-songwriter melody. Folick’s voice was still impressive as she crooned out to the crowd, backed by her band, with melodic guitar strums and minimal drums.
The crowd welcomed her with applause, but Folick quickly turned the tables. Removing her sunglasses, Folick extended her arms to the crowd and revealed a powerhouse punk rock voice from behind her indie guise.
Throughout her set, Folick wailed out, packing passion and angst into every word. Based on her short set, the singer-songwriter is setting herself up to be a powerful voice for the genre. Her song “Give It to Me” best exemplified her vocal prowess, holding a raw growl in an operatic fashion.
Though Folick may have surprised the crowd in the moment, in hindsight, her opening set was a perfect counterpart to Kate Nash’s headline spot.
Nash loves to play the line between singer-songwriter and brash punk moods. Even her softer tracks, often sung-spoken over piano, lend themselves to punk, delivering punchy lyrical lines with a harsh tone. Throughout the night, Nash skirted the line, but for most of the set, she let her harder rock side show.
Her set began with an all-female band. Prior to Nash’s arrival on stage, watching her band shred gave the perfect prelude. This wasn’t gonna be a low-key, singer-songwriter event. This was a rock show.
Nash arrived on stage to fanfare, headbanging with her band, prancing around the stage in her frilly red skirt… then took a seat at the piano and quickly changed gears.
Opening with “Foundations,” Nash gave the crowd a taste of her brand right from the start. Arguably her most popular song, “Foundations” takes the shape of a light, poppy and fun singer-songwriter tune, but with lyrics that cut deep. “Then you’ll call me a bitch and everyone we’re with will be embarrassed, and I won’t give a shit,” she sings.
“Foundations” ended abruptly, and shifted to a newer cut from Nash’s latest album, Yesterday Was Forever, “Life in Pink." In contrast to the lighter side of “Foundations,” “Life in Pink” kicked the energy level back up. Nash leapt from the piano, grabbed the mic in a tight fist, and growled her way through the angsty, yet still poppy, chorus.
“What’s wrong with me?” she growls. “Wish I could let my brain decide and stop the pain.”
As this was the Yesterday Was Forever tour, much of Nash’s set revolved around her newest record. The record lies very much on the more punk side of Nash’s style, and it is brutal in its honesty. With songs dealing with topics from broken hearts to mental illness, Nash lets every emotion come to the surface. On stage, this was portrayed through pure energy.
Very rarely did Nash stop moving. Constantly jumping from one side of the stage to the other, down into the crowd and back, her fiery presence was matched with the crowd's reaction. Screaming out lyrics that hit deep, Nash’s upbeat, rock-heavy set proved therapeutic for those who could so easily relate to the songs subject matter.
Not only was Kate Nash’s show an enjoyable, dance-heavy evening, but her set, along with Miya Folick's before, proved one thing absolutely: Women can shred.
Though the public eye may hold the stereotypical view of soft-spoken, female singer-songwriters, Saturday night's show proved definitively that image is nothing but myth. From their angst-driven vocal performances to their raw emotion, punk rock ran heavy from start to finish. And by the end of the night, both Nash and Folick had shown their skills were worth our attention.