As an arts writer, they tell you not to beat dead horses. We are told, when we get the keys to a one-bedroom flat of internet article space to dispose of our thoughts in, not to belabor on topics where debate is no longer generative; where a cultural consensus has been reached, or all viable arguments have been made. When Kim comes out with receipts incriminating Taylor for using Guys-Kanye-Called-Me-A-Bitch-Troops-Assemble feminism for personal gain, we are not supposed to shout into the crowded internet void about it, because the internet is a highly effective instrument that responds at hyper-speed to such events — and there are literally offices full of 20-something bloggers in every major city paid to sit around and wait for stuff like that to happen, and produce appropriately snarky takes on it. So, if you’re not one of those people paid to stare out at the internet and write that first “Taylor Lied and Here’s Why She’s The Whitest and Lamest Feminist Who Ever Lived, Who Gives Me Existential Doubt and Acid Reflux About The State of Feminism” article — don’t. I’ve shouted a lot about indie rock in the past few days.
Ithaca Underground has long been lauded as one of the few music and art collectives in Ithaca that truly keep their ears to the ground and deliver the locals exactly what they want to hear. With that being said, last night’s concert was a dream come true for those who love to let the music visibly shake them up and down, those who feel not fear but exhilaration from the prospect of a mosh pit and those who like to keep their face down and, as Jimi Hendrix famously put it, “wave their freak flag high.”
Last night’s show was kicked off by Ithaca cat-pop group Teencat, whose energetic basslines and straightforward, if dark, riffs were topped off by the optimistic lyrics and strong lead vocal performance delivered by Kari Aldrich. They were followed by local favorite Shore Acres Drive, a three person-collective that blends emo, punk and post-hardcore and first debuted their music at the Ithaca Underground stage of the 2014 Ithaca Festival. Shore Acres Drive consists of Cornell students Charlie Fraioli on guitar and vocals, Jake Burchard on the drums and Ithaca College student James Manton on bass. Shore Acres Drive started as a solo acoustic project, with their music written exclusively by front man Charlie.
“Girl power” is a tainted term in our cultural vocabulary. It is infected probably first and foremost by the image of Gwen Stefani, bindi-clad, prostrating herself onstage in her “Just A Girl” music video whimpering “fuck you, I’m a girl,” or of Taylor Swift parading around with her #girlsquad of models/singers/very famous people, explaining to Twitter, (mainly when other women criticize her) how very important it is for “women to support each other.” The term, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a self-reliant attitude among girls and young women manifested in ambition, assertiveness and individualism” has been largely debunked as a commercialized white feminist ideology, based on vague assertions of rights and equality, which ultimately boils down to imitating masculinity while still looking hot. So, while explicit performances of girl power like those of Stefani, Courtney Love, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna and the Spice Girls — whose have-it-all, you-go-girl cultural feminist legacy was inherited by Swift and her peers — were subversive in the 90s and aughts, and will always be fun as hell to dance to, it has since become evident that these women’s girl power brands (remember kinderwhore?) were ultimately complicit with the relentless trivialization and eroticization of women within rock culture. In 2016, “girl power” in music is either obsolete, or begging for redefinition. The latter, I argue, is happening, and in an unlikely genre.