FEST Femmes

FEST Femmes | Top DOZEN Female-Fronted Acts at FEST 14! | Gainesville, FL | October 30 – November 1, 2015

by • September 16, 2015

Rebel. Riot. Roar. Just thirty seconds into the opening song and I can feel my blood boil, chills run down my spine, or better yet, reconsider everything I’ve ever known about myself as a person. Maybe as a woman, too. If there were ever an igniting force in music for these feelings, it’s the woman-led charge that continues to seize the scene at The Fest in Gainesville.

From pro-rights roarers like War on Women to garage punk newcomers Boys, there is not a single act at FEST that doesn’t bleed punk presence and energy. That’s just the acts. Girl gangs (shout-out to the Pabst Smears, who raised money for Peaceful Paths with awesome Fest-themed merch) and socially conscious, enigmatic performers bring an explosive community presence to the punk scene.

There’s no room for fratty punk bros or sexist, hardcore purists near the stage when these women surge. Expect more punch and presence from these bands than most typical punk acts; it has all to do with their raw talent.

Here are just a dozen of performers planning to pile into Gainesville, none of which you’ll want to miss.

War on Women

No band has ever provoked such rage and passion in me quite like War on Women. The moment that I first experienced Shawna Potter leaning in close and unleashing exasperated animosity on center stage, my life was forever changed. War on Women is one of the strongest, socially conscious bands of 2015. You’ll never forget the first time you experience their roar.

Kamikaze Girls

The ultimate girl gang, Kamikaze Girls, arrives from across the Pond with unforgettable pop punk energy. The two piece has two releases — both are nothing short of brilliant. Lucinda Livingston and Conor Dawson are one of the strongest duos to step into FEST in years, blending elements of an indie edge and stomping bounce.


Every song by Cayetana is rich with imagery. The dynamic indie punk is captivating, and it’s no surprise that the Philadelphia band is at forefront of many FEST fans’ lists. I’ve somehow missed their sets for years, but this year I PUT MY FOOT DOWN. I WILL dance my ass off to “Hot Dad Calendar” if my life depends on it.


My personal favorite flavor of power pop punk, Heartsounds. Since starting in the metal scene, they’ve elevated to level-unforgettable with fast, inflected songs that are nothing short of irresistible in sophomore release Drifter.


I’m hooked on the endless energy that is Boys. Alternating between sweet and scorching, their self-titled EP demonstrates the band’s attitude and range. This Cincinnati, Ohio punk piece is addictive. And they sure have a grudge with E.E. Cummings. As far as FEST freshmen go, this may be my most anticipated set.

The Girls!

Punk with a splash of rockabilly, The Girls! exceed any preconceived notions with brilliant musicianship and poignant lyricism. I’ve found myself dancing one minute and contemplating the heaviness of lyrics the next. I find myself “Mesmerized” by so many intricate details in their music; I’m hopeful their performance is equally as enticing.

Wet Nurse

In sync and incredible, the Orlando garage punks have seized a place in the Florida scene with their sharp sound. Wet Nurse brings speedy, rolling energy that irresistible to anyone who steps near their set. Give songs like “My Nature” and “Sassy” a listen- you’ll be addicted within the first couple of chords.


Indie, garage, and pop have never blended with punk in a more catchy way. Alright has released two strong EPs since 2014. Each track stands alone as practically a work of art, transcending whichever genre I’ve attempted to assign it. Maybe it’s the “Mixed Signals” tussle energy to the rolling climax in “Watercolors.” But Alright is not one to miss.

Gouge Away

Gouge Away are biting, edgy, and frankly one of the most badass hardcore acts to hit FEST. The Fort Lauderdale, FL act defines the better qualities of the state’s hardcore scene with precise ferocity. The rapid fire power chords rip in ways unimaginable. That is, until you first sink your teeth into Gouge Away for yourself.


Featuring one of the most prominent figures in pop punk (or at least one you should be following), Lauren Denitzio and Worriers are redefining what it means to form a creative collective in the scene. Revolutionary in sound and speech, their presence sheds light on prejudice toward members of the LGBTQ+ community, police brutality, and more. Their evolutionary lineup always carries consistent consciousness along with Denitizio’s personal voice that shines best in this year’s full-length release, Imaginary Life.

Bad Cop Bad Cop

There’s no way to argue around it; Bad Cop Bad Cop is an unapologetic act that’s created a standard for badass musicianship. It’s their blunt lyricism and directness that shape their sound. Bad Cop Bad Cop is not afraid to kick your ass and remind you that you deserve better in life, all in one song.


I would, and did, wait all summer.I squeezed close the stage as Chumped blew me away at the Wrecking Ball in Atlanta. I bonded with the Brooklyn “bummer punks’” haunting honesty and catchy, peppy layers. I’m a permanent fan.

Runners Up: Night Witch, Caves, NOMORE, Jabber, Shellshag, Long Knives, Boyfriend Material, No Weather Talks, City Mouse.

Just out of 10 Bands To Listen To Before FEST 14 HERE!

FEST Femmes by Amanda Starling, edited by Matthew Weller.



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