On the day that I spoke to Girls Rock! Adelaide co-director Hannah Fairlamb, three Australian female musicians – Alex the Astronaut, Kira Puru and WAAX lead singer, Marie DeVita – all announced they had been harassed and/ or assaulted by audience members during the previous weekend.
With their inaugural five-day programme, which culminates in a live showcase at the Adelaide UniBar, Girls Rock! Adelaide plan to shine a light on the discrimination currently faced by female, trans, non-binary and gender-diverse musicians, while simultaneously empowering the next generation with the skills, and more importantly the self-belief, to transform the male-dominated live music industry.
Girls Rock! Adelaide is the latest outpost in a global network that has steadily expanded since its inception 25 years ago in Portland; there are now over 100 organisations, from Iceland to Aotearoa.
For Hannah, a Gender Studies academic and the guitarist and lead singer of “pretty angry pop” band Ponytail Kink, co-directing the organisation draws upon the skills she has learnt in both her workplaces; and they are both workplaces, as she explains.
“I think there’s some people who think that in the entertainment industry that the rules don’t apply or things are different, or you can behave how you want to behave and we’re all friends so consent doesn’t apply, and I think tackling those sorts of attitudes is really important.”
While she believes changing these attitudes does require a response from those who currently hold the power, Girls Rock! Adelaide is tackling the inequality and discrimination from the grassroots by hosting the 5-day music camp for girls, trans and non-binary children aged between 10 and 17.
“What we do with Girls Rock! is start from the ground up, working with girls and trans and non-binary children or gender-diverse children who feel like they haven’t been given permission to be loud or to try musical instruments or maybe they haven’t been allowed or had the courage to say ‘oh I’d love to play guitar and not clarinet’... not that clarinet isn’t a good instrument.”
For camp attendees, the five days will be transformative as will the showcase. “It’s an opportunity for kids,” explains Hannah, “who may not have been able to play a note at the beginning of the week to collaborate with a group of others to write an original song and then perform it live at the end of week.”
It’s also an opportunity for audiences to see how majestically kids can grow when given a safe place.
Girls Rock! Adelaide showcase plays the Adelaide UniBar on 20 July (1-3pm), as part of Umbrella: Winter City Sounds.