13 of the Best Female-Fronted Bands in DFW

Categories: Best Of

Chloes-011-x1.JPG
The Chloes
It's no news that the Dallas-Fort Worth music scene -- and music scenes around the world -- can often feel a little unbalanced when it comes to the male-to-female ratio. Why aren't an equal number of women picking up guitars, sitting down to keyboards or clutching drum sticks for the masses? It's dumb, but here's a list of 13 badass bands in DFW led by women who don't give a crap about the conventions.

See also:
-The Five DFW Punk Albums We're Most Excited About for Spring/Summer/Whenever Punk Time Allows
-The Ten Most Badass Band Names in DFW

The Chloes
April Wenzel, songwriter, lead guitar and lead vocals for the all-female pop-meets-alternative rock group The Chloes:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate?

The people that hold most of the access to the action in the music scene are men. I can't help but sense that we have to rely on men's tastes and judgment in music and image for your success, but we really enjoy being women and telling our stories in our own way. We are often received with confusion when venues and fellow bands actually see we are not a punk band or singing folk lullabies and not sure in which mold to squeeze us.

We used to get a lot of unsolicited advice about how to look and how to sound from men that they wouldn't tell a fellow male band lead. We like to really get into a feminine zone by dressing up on stage and finishing our set with "Put that Dick Away" and the audience is not sure to be offended or laugh. The venue staff who knows us usually sings along. We all play instruments also, so it challenges both males and females in the audience who are used to seeing the wives and girlfriends in a support role backstage. At the end of the day it's about the music, and oddly enough, it's mostly men who buy our music, men who download our music and men who write us and tell us they can't stop listening to our album and how much it moves them.

Who are your musical or personal influences?

Liz Phair is a major inspiration to me. I grew up around the junk food of commercial radio which is to this day the female singer and/or dancing role with a perfectly auto tuned song about safe topics. There can be some of magic in that kind of polished up music, but when I found Exile in Guyville, I was blown away. Here was this woman singing about incredibly honest and raw struggles in her life, owning her sexuality, making demands on the universe, playing guitar and making it sound fantastic. You'll hear a heavy influence of that album in our music. I also enjoy experimenting with other artists' sounds like Lykke Li, The XX and The Coathangers. Sometimes I'm moved to just write a guitar song and I hear a heavy Foo Fighters or Strokes influence. Country and rap also have very special sounds I'm attracted to, Lucinda Williams, Neko Case, Estelle, and Azalea Banks. As long as it has that honesty and bit of magic, it's going to influence my stories.

Eat Avery's Bones
Lead singer and bassist Meggie Hilkert, of the comically offensive punk band Eat Avery's Bones:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate?

I started playing with Eat Avery's Bones at a pretty tender age, and I received my fair share of cat calls, proposals from gnarly dudes, and belittling remarks about my skills as a bassist: "Wow, you're actually pretty talented!" But, in this reality, that is just part of being a woman and I've known that all along. Nowadays it's not a priority to feel like I need to impress anyone. In all honesty, the reason I love being in my band so much is because I get to have an insanely great time without feeling the restraints of how society expects me to act based on my gender. At times I find myself making a mockery of those expectations, and that was never something I consciously began doing...but it's a hell of a lot of fun.

Who are your musical or personal influences?

When it was most important in my band's developmental stages, we had a lot of support and guidance from women and men in the DFW scene: Nouns Group, Teenage Symphony, The Undoing of David Wright, Christian! Teenage Runaways. The (amazing) people in these bands encouraged us to be us, and accepted us, and I could not have asked for a better scene in which to start playing music as a young woman. I switched from being primarily the bassist in EAB to doing vocals only recently, and influences on my vocal and performance styles include Eric Paul of Arab on Radar, and Chloe Lum of AIDS Wolf--two folks who, despite the number of times I have seen them perform, still freak me out and blow my mind.

The Atomic Tanlines
Allyssa "Alli Play-Nice" Lowe of The Atomic Tanlines:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate?

I get this question asked a lot, and as far as the people I associate with in Denton, they are very accepting of women in music. I get more excited about seeing a woman in a band than most individuals because I want to see more. I say this because I know it's hard to get people to listen to you unless you have a mic or instrument in your hand. It's scary to find that courage if you aren't an outgoing person and want to create music with others. In the beginning, some people write you off or judge you harsher.

When a guy messes up a song, or something along those lines, he isn't scrutinized, but when a woman messes up she is a joke. But if a woman surpasses expectations, she is only good "for a girl," or the fact that she is a girl gets thrown in front of everything. But in the Denton/Fort Worth music scene everyone is very aware that inequality is bogus. They are all really solid dudes.

For me, the fact that I am a person of color fronting a punk band, I get a hell of a lot more micro-aggressions about my race rather than because I am female. Every time I'm in Dallas, some asshole touches my hair without asking. Some of these guys are a real hoot, especially the ones who ball their hands into a fist and say "Right on!" when I pass by. Or the ones who said they have seen my band and say how jazzy and soulful we are because they saw a sax and it only makes sense, right? We have to be a jazz or a soul band because a person of color is singing and they just so happen to have a sax. Usually these are the dudes who when conversing with me say "Oh girl," and "Holla." I'm so sick of it. That's how it is, I guess, being in a predominantly male climate -- that and the jokes that go too far. Growing up in this whole "troll" culture era, I get that everyone is at risk for a harsh joke, but sometimes people make jokes about something non-consensual, and that is hard to be around. It's really awesome that I don't experience these things regularly in Denton. I just had to tell you straight about the things I experience frequently outside of Denton/Fort Worth.

Who are your musical or personal influences?

I'm influenced by all the really wonderful people that I surround myself with. Everyone is creating and manifesting and it's beautiful to see everyone working together. I love my friends seriously. If they jumped off a cliff I would too, because I know damn well we all know how to have a good time. Musically, I'm influenced by Tupac. Just kidding. But not kidding. Um, Alice Bag, Jello Biafra, Polly S., Marc Bolan, Selena, Grace Jones, Iggy, OG Ron C! Just everything I listen to and grew up around...it all has an impact because it all is meaningful to me.

Vulgar Fashion
Julie Mckendrick, lead vocalist for death-synth duo Vulgar Fashion:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate?

I guess I was pretty lucky growing up in the '80s when MTV was in its infancy. I had the opportunity to see women that were aggressive and mysterious which I identified with yet not completely. I was still looking at men in music for inspiration. I was attracted to extreme forms of expression. I found most of what I was looking for through heavy metal like Metallica pre Black album and gansta rap like Ghetto Boys, N.W.A. I tried to get into female led metal bands but the ones that were presented to me still had sexualized stereotypical themes in the songs. The ones that didn't, such as Joan Jett and Patti Smith, were not heavy enough for me. There might of been women doing sonic art with a more aggressive vulnerability but I was unaware of any. The music industry was still definitely dominated by men which is true in all western art movements. So, working in an all boys club can be extremely difficult sometimes. Women performers are judged mostly on how they look rather than the content of their music. I tend to ignore what an audience expects of me and just perform in an organic way. I feel like it would be false and too easy to just play it safe.

Who are your musical or personal influences?

I have tons of things that influence me. I really like Lana Del Ray; she is probably the weirdest person ever. I also really like the Britney Spears Blackout album. There is a very direct connection between that album and some of the songs on our album...Madonna in the '80s, a lot of music in the '80s was good. All of the radio music today pretty much sucks. That's why you have bands from the '80s doing big tours. Anything that I respond to emotionally influences my art work.



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32 comments
nivek1969
nivek1969

uh, Blackstone Rangers, idiots!

Alex Larrea
Alex Larrea

Nice. 3 of us in DEERPEOPLE used to hang out with some of the folks from Eat Avery's Bones. We all went to high school I think.

ohboyohgirlclothing
ohboyohgirlclothing

I vote fingerless ghost. Modern oldies. A band doing something different here in Dallas. 

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

My favorite girl fronted Dallas band is called "honey, go make me a sandwich and get me a beer"......they often tour with "I've been working all day, can the stories wait!". 

hilary2k
hilary2k

Scary Cherry and the BangBangs are the BOMB! And a national touring act with fans all over the world!!! 

ap1007
ap1007

What about Somebody's Darling or True Widow? Both have amazing ladies leading the way.

nattyw222
nattyw222

How could you not include Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs? They are awesome and bad ass!

ladyparts
ladyparts

This is a great start! But why 13? it's not a top ten list or even a sorta round # like 15. I hope it's not because you couldn't find anymore, as there are lots of great talented ladies around town. SCatBB and Somebody's Darling have already been mentioned. If we aren't limiting the genre, Beauty and the Beats are phenomenal. Honey is pretty new, but shows a lot of promise. Across the pond in FW you've got Panic Volcanic, Diabolical Machines, and Lovesick Mary out of Denton. Or swing by the Razorblade Dolls show on May 3rd and you'll see 5 bands (not listed here) that can each claim some pretty awesome female musicians. (2 female fronted, 2 female band member, and Faded Grace is hecka-female). The sad part is I'm sure I'm forgetting some (not even attempting to list the countless singer-songwriter types), but poke around a bit and you'll wind up wanting to write a "part 2" for this list. Finding 13 more bands will be the easy part... the hard part will be figuring out how to explain the idea that, while there are "conventons," any artistic community worth its salt is bound to be seen regularly bucking those very same conventions. And if you look closely, you'll find we do... not just in the form of female-centric bands, but increasingly with bands that just happen to include females without drawing a lot of attention to gender.

crizzuto
crizzuto

What about Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs??? They are phenomenal!!

sherbearluv
sherbearluv

How is Scary Cherry & the Bang Bangs not included on this list?

Bog_Rat
Bog_Rat

Breakfast Machine!  Meghann Moore is a killer frontwoman.  Zach Mayo is one of the greatest drummers in DFW.  Hell of a show, outstanding songwriting.

Robin Anderson
Robin Anderson

Oh my gosh....if you haven't seen Roxi V from Silver Loves Mercury you are totally missing out. She's such a firecracker, and her voice...amazing!

Laurel
Laurel

I know not everyone can be on the list, but geez, how can Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs, Faded Grace and Somebody's Darling NOT be on this list?   I also enjoy The Breakfast Machine.

frankieklee
frankieklee

Scary Cherry & the Bang Bangs, Tri County Terror, Faded Grace, Nevermind the Darkness...and .there are so many more great ones than just 13...lol

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

great post, love reading and hearing these bands. and a welcome reprieve from Coachella (enough!) anybody remember Pervis, those were some girls with attitude.

depplover
depplover

you forgot the best one... scary cherry and the bang bangs!!

Craig Boland
Craig Boland

What difference does the gender of the vocalist make? #sexist

KellyB-DFW
KellyB-DFW

Also - The Diabolical Machines, from Fort Worth.  Steph, Harley, and Amanda are kick-ass musicians and singers!  (And the guys in the band are cool, too!)

KellyDearmore
KellyDearmore

I love your writing here as a fellow DC9-er, Rachel, but how in the hell did Amber Farris of Somebody's Darling get left off of this list? She and the band have been tearing it up and grabbing DOMA noms and wins for some time now.

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