Femme Wave feminist arts festival hopes to change, challenge and entertain

It was a Saturday night just over a month ago and Kaely Cormack and her Calgary punk quartet The Shiverettes had released a new EP. She was walking out of the club with her boyfriend and her bandmate Cecilia Schlemm, and was, admittedly, on “cloud nine.”
“It’s a big deal and I’m feeling so good about myself,” Cormack says, sitting in the Ship and Anchor with Shiverettes frontwoman Hayley Muir. “We walk out and some guy’s outside smoking and he goes, ‘Oh, look at this guy and his groupies.’
“And I thought, ‘He’s my groupie … I just put out a tape, this guy doesn’t even know how to play an instrument — f—k you.’
“It’s little stuff like that that’s such a bummer. You work so hard to learn an instrument and to deal with that sound guy that talks down to you some times, and to deal with that booker that treats you like a novelty act.”
That anecdote while speaking to the reality that many women in music have to deal with, is actually also rather emblematic of the year it’s been for modern feminism. It’s been a one step forward, two steps back time for the movement with positives, such as the discussion surrounding high-profile cases of alleged violence against women by Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby, being undermined by such things as the Rolling Stone rape story retraction and, closer to home, a Calgary judge asking an alleged victim of sexual assault, “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?”

n other words, the timing is right for yet one more step forward by way of the multi-discliplinary Femme Wave: Calgary Feminist Arts Festival, which kicks off Thursday and runs through Sunday at various locations around Calgary.
“Feminism is just really topical right now,” admits Cormack. “And everyone’s talking about it and everyone’s trying to make an effort to make things better for women and more equal for women.

“So we thought we needed to do this now, it’s super relevant now.”
The pair came up with the idea in September, originally envisioning it as a one-night concert of local bands featuring women in their lineups. It grew, as these things often do, when they saw the support that was out there for it, with other volunteers, artists and venues asking to be involved, and then a Kickstarter fund they started surpassing their $5,000 goal by over a grand.

Now, the four-day Femme Wave will feature a number of performances including highlights such as: a Friday night event at Nite Owl called Going Solo, which features a majority of one-person musical acts, including Mariel Buckley, FOONYAP, Emily Triggs and Eve Hell; the Girls Rock Camp Variety Show, an all-ages gig Saturday at Tubby Dog featuring two bands made up of alumni from last year’s local music camp, Suburban Moms and A-Bomb; and later that evening a more adult-friendly show at the Palomino, with performances by acts such as Miesha and the Spanks, Fist City and, of course, The Shiverettes.

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