“Grrl Fest” at Lawn Gnome


Lawn Gnome hosted Phoenix’s first ever Grrl Fest which featured female-fronted bands, a local author, the launching of local feminist zines, and more on Saturday, October 12. The two main focuses of Grrl Fest were to raise awareness for victims of domestic violence and help fund the two local magazines. The turnout was fair for being the first go-round of an event like this in the Valley.

There were women of all ages and yes, there were some men present as well. Outside in front of Lawn Gnome, social activist Jax Gonzalez set up an area where women who had been affected by or know someone affected by domestic violence could create custom t-shirts. The t-shirts will be displayed at ASU main campus in Tempe to raise awareness of domestic violence.

Gonzalez explained how The Clothesline Project works: “It not only gives people [affected by domestic violence] a voice, but it also empowers them to do something artistic. Also, hopefully to see something that they created be up at Tempe campus will empower them as well.”

In the back of Lawn Gnome two local zines, Hard Candy and Tilt magazine, set up shop and promoted their publications. Throughout the evening, various writers and musicians took to the back stage. Local author Nicole Zangara presented her book Surviving Female Friendships: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly with an open discussion on how women relate to each other. Next, poets from The Lisa Frank Poetry Collective all presented various poems and spoken word to the crowd. Finally, the night ended with music  from local acts The Pleasure Victims and Sister Lip.

The Pleasure Victims were up first and drew a fair amount of people. Their sound is late 90s alternative rock stylized by the guitar and vocals. The music they play is bass-heavy and, in total, is specific to their genre. The Pleasure Victims’ stage presence was energetic and passionate. After them Sister Lip, an all-girl ensemble, performed. Sister Lip had a few technical difficulties tonight, but worked around them like pros. They combine feminine elements such as sweet and jazzy three part harmonies with aggressive, unapologetic rhythms and guitar riffs. During their set, people from the street wandered into the venue just to hear them.

Basically, I wanted to put the work out to put on the very first Grrl Fest,

Owner of Lawn Gnome Publishing Aaron Hopkins-Johnson said of his motivation behind Grrl Fest. “Now that people have seen what it could be and seen rhetorically what it could mean for this community, other people can be on board with it. Next time it could be bigger. As long as we can continue to grow and keep finding women who have the same ideas and encourage other women to do awesome things. It’s not very different from the events that happen in Portland or Hawaii.”

For being the first ever Grrl Fest, the event was a success and we can’t wait to see how it evolves and grows from here.

Image Credit: Shaunte Glover

Slightly off-kilter 22 year old freelance writer with an unsatiable interest in music, art, and literature. ENFP. Español a veces.