Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Three Chords and a Rolodex: Lesbian Rockers Who Prefer to Fly under the Radar Create a Nationwide, Self-Supportive Network. (Music)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Three Chords and a Rolodex: Lesbian Rockers Who Prefer to Fly under the Radar Create a Nationwide, Self-Supportive Network. (Music)

Article excerpt

Milestones in lesbian and queer-identified music are being marked faster than a Susan Morabito breakbeat. But for every chart-making victory by mainstream performers like Melissa Etheridge or k.d. lang, there are perhaps thousands of lesbian and lesbian-identified rock bands in a growing but still relatively obscure underground. Some of the bands from this alternative rock subgenre--most notably Sleater-Kinney and Le Tigre--have earned enough critical success and CD sales to warrant attention from MTV and national music press. But others--such as the Need, Evil Beaver, and Bragnobile--eke out a decent living in this underground, all while remaining largely unknown to the public and even to other lesbians.

The scene is often called dykecore, and it grew out of riot grrrl, the early '90s movement that married third-wave feminism (think Sassy magazine) with punk rock's do-it-yourself ethic. It encompasses a self-sufficient network of bands, record labels, clubs, 'zines, Web sites, and festivals (such as the rapidly expanding underground-friendly Ladyfest).

"The support among these bands is probably the strongest bond in the entire music scene," says Jessica Ocasio, who maintains Girlpunk.net, a Web site about female-fronted punk acts. Toastacia Boyd experienced the power of that network when she joined the lesbian-identified band Automaticans two years ago. "We had a built-in crowd wherever we went," says Boyd. "People would come to our shows without even hearing us first just because we were on the Chainsaw label [known for its dykecore acts]. …

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