Laurel Sorenson is the front woman of the rock ’n’ roll band, Laurel & The Love-In, as well as the co-founder of Babe Booking, a company that organizes events to support women in the music industry.
I have played to a lot of crowds. I have played to drunken, bearded men clad in collared shirts with the sleeves torn off, and I have played for coffee sipping sophisticates peering up at me over their Warby Parker tortoise-shell frames. My favorite crowd to play for, by far, is a crowd of fun-loving feminists.
A crowd full of women at a rock and roll show would sound like an anomaly to those who aren’t in the know. Looking at the Billboard charts for Hot Rock Songs for the week of August 6, there are only four women in any of the bands in the top 20. Only one of the songs in the top 20 is sung by a female lead singer. Traditionally women have not been the target demographic for rock radio, and any chick in a rock band knows that we are the minority.
Thank god for the underground. Mainstream radio may not have caught on yet, but there’s a revival of real rock and roll, and women are at the forefront. Not the synth driven radio-rock sung almost exclusively by white males, but the rebellious, guitar-driven blues that started the genre in the first place. Women like Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes, Allison Mosshart of the Kills, Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards of Deap Vally, Elle King, and Courtney Barnett, are just a handful of the women who have been tearing up the rock scene and showing the world what it looks like when badass women step up to the mic. Other women are taking notice, and the party just keeps getting bigger.
This is why playing for a crowd of feminists is my favorite thing to do. The show ceases to be a concert and starts to become a community where we are all participating in building something special by supporting each other. After years of playing cheesy “Ladies Nights” thrown together by male promoters who think they know what women want, women in the entertainment industry are stepping up to create the shows we actually want to see and the shows we actually want to play. I never saw a venue full of women cheering on a stage full of women until I started putting together my own shows in conjunction with my dear friend and Fresh Lady front woman, Emma Morcroft. Together we started Babe Booking, an event planning company whose main focus is promoting women in the entertainment industry. Once word got around of what we were doing, it was like rocker chicks started to come out of the woodwork. Before I knew it, most of the bands I was playing with had at least one female member.
So radio can keep ignoring us, gray-haired geezers in Foreigner t-shirts can call us soft rock, and the poor excuses for male garage rockers who we share stages with can keep assuming we’re groupies. It’s all just fuel for the fun-loving feminist fire, and our parties are a hell of a lot more fun without them there. Long live rock and roll, and long live the women who have always made it a party worth attending.