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FemME – Female Metal Event
Written by Ton Dekkers   
Friday, 05 December 2014

FemME – Female Metal Event
@ Effenaar Eindhoven (Netherlands)
Sunday 28 September 2014

 

LaVentura 

 

Again a report with support from fellow critics Hans Kraaijeveld (report) and Wendy Steenmans (photos) from Rockportaal Thank you for that. Also a thank you to Sonic Cathedral that opened doors for me. That helped to make FemME possible. Ton Dekkers


We have to get up on time this Sunday, because we’ll be at FemME all day today! The Female Metal Event is focused especially on the women in the metal scene. The question that arises almost immediately is this just another fairies metal festival like so many other ones. It might not be, since the lineup is quite alternative to what you would normally find on kind of festivals like and there’s more than just music than can be experienced today. Will this be “different” enough? There is a large number of bands today, preceded by a fashion show accompanied by aerial acrobatics, acoustic music of Seventh Sin and music from the video game Karmaflow. There will also be some crafted work from Cat’s and Dolls on display.

 

Karmaflow 

 

Already early in the morning the business backstage is quite tumultuous and many people are fighting over the limited space. With twenty models, people working madly on the dresses to get them finished and visagists preparing grime and make-up it’s quite busy. For the bands it’s equally busy since there’s but five dressing rooms and eight bands playing today. Luckily they don’t play all at once. Organizer Ton Dekkers is also frantically trying to arrange all kinds of things that have popped up last minute and he can be seen just about everywhere.

At exactly half past one the fashion show by designer Ingeborg Steenhorst starts. The collection on the catwalk shows both clothing and accessories that match the scene present, both on stage and in front of the stage. At the breaks in the catwalk shows, performances of Aerial Art and Seventh Sin dressed by Ingeborg fills the gap. The crowd watched the aerial act breathlessly, where Simone Heitinga let herself tumble around like a butterfly and showed all sorts of splendid movements in the hanging silk tissue. When she finally comes down she gets a well-deserved applause.

A few female singers from bands that will perform tonight also play a role on the catwalk. Haddassa (theNAME), Monique (Seventh Sin) and Marloes (Izegrim) quite literally showed an different side of themselves in Ingeborg’s creations. A lot of tight black, denim and metal has been transformed into tough looking outfits. As common in the scene, a number of corsets could not be missed in this show. At the end of the show Ingeborg receives a big applause, surrounded by all of this evening’s models.

Ingeborg collaborates with Cats’nDolls. These Italian ladies remade a couple of dolls to be exact replicas of Floor Jansen and Simone Simons. The fabrics of the dresses of both ladies were miniaturized for the dolls. All is so real, every detail has been carefully crafted: even Floor’s little nose ring isn’t missing. The color of the hair, the polished nails, the jewelry and many more details. It’s a pleasure to look at.

The last part of the show is Karmaflow in Concert on stage. This is a part of the multidisciplinary project Karmaflow related to the Rock Opera videogame Karmaflow. At FemME it could be played on two demonstration computers. The game is in the final stages of production and a premiere has been planned on the 18th and 19th of January next year at the Theater aan de Parade in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. After a short video intro the band comes on stage. The entire outfit of the band is designed by Ingeborg based on the avatars. The (tailor-made) excerpts we hear sounds fantastic! The wonderful drama, the dismay and rage literally explode from the podium by way of the male and female singer. A grunting voice completes this set of emotions. If this is any prelude to the game, I am now very tempted to begin gaming again! On the three video screens at the back of the stage all kinds of conceptual game art is shown, as well as images from the game itself, which look very sophisticated. The combination makes it, as is described on the Karmaflow website, a must for anyone who loves the theater, classical, rock and metal.

 

Aerial Art 

 

Without any warning, La Ventura is suddenly on stage and starts their set with “Falling Down.” The music sounds nice and vocalist Carla’s voice is nicely tuned, although there are some moments at which it seems she isn’t hearing herself. The band is clearly in a hurry and plays song after song. The crowd is thickening a bit, but the venue is far from full. The band however is getting some nice crowd response and what is well deserved, since the band plays their songs neatly. The last song “This is a Song for an Idiot” is of course in no way intended as an insult, on the contrary, according to Carla, who is clearly enjoying herself on stage.

 

LaVentura

 

The next band on the lineup is Revengin. Ton (the organizer) is on stage briefly to introduce the band. He ran into them while in Brazil for work, and thought it was a good idea to bring them over to the Netherlands sometime. The band produces a rather fatty sound, in which the bass guitar really stands out. The small singer has quite a voice. The first impression soon fades though, since the drums are more than a little odd. The songs change pace quite frequently, from very lethargic to full speed ahead. Second song “Capricorn” stands out the most by means of the enticing drum beats throughout the song. The unusual combination of the fast drum and bass, combined with the slow singing cords make this a jewel in the rough. Unpolished though, since it’s not perfect yet. As the set progresses, the attention for them soon dwells a bit. A shame, as this band can, in my opinion, perform better.

 

Revengin 

 

Next up is Adeia. This very progressive band uses not only guitar, bass and drums, but also a violin, a cello and keyboard. You might expect this combination is offering some soft music, but reality shows the opposite. The male singer can do clean vocals, but also can give it a grunting punch. Musically this is really well performed, but what you often see is that progressive bands are hard to listen to, due to their complex songs. In the audience there is a clear distinction, people that like it and people that don’t. Adeia is not influenced by this and performs quite admirably. The deep and slow parts of many of the songs are beautiful, but not for all. The crowd responds because of that, but not to a degree the band deserves.

 

Adeia 

 

Exactly on time Ton announces the next band, theNAME. He thanks Hadassa again for the idea to link the fashion show, in which she participated, to the music event. The band only gets a limited crowd response; it takes them a lot of effort to get a few hands up in the air. The set is well played, but it seems on a few occasions that Hadassa has the same troubles as Carla, being not able to hear herself sing. Guitar and drums are nice and heavy, but not too complicated and are easy accessible. A bit further on in the set Hadassa has some good and bad news. The bad news is, Jeroen is leaving theNAME for a bit. The good news, Ariën van Weesenbeek is joining them on drums for “Cruel Thoughts.” Before the last song is announced, Hadassa thanks both the organization, Ingeborg and Ariën.

 

theNAME 

 

The next band on today’s band is Skeptical Minds. They start off with a rather calm song, but as always, Karolina is herself and interacts heavily with the crowd and is as enthusiastic as ever. In almost every song the band commits to, Karolina hops and dances around on the stage. The catwalk is still in place and she couldn’t resist using it. “Everybody has hips!”, she claims as we’re expected to dance with her to “Skeleton Key.” The fact the little lady dances more than the whole crowd put together doesn’t put any damper on her joy. The song “Don ‘t Tell” from the album Skepticalize needs some clapping, as Karolina enthusiastically does herself. This enthusiasm is typical for the entire performance that is primarily focused on her. This is a bit necessary as the music itself isn’t really complicated, nor are the vocals.

 

Skeptical Minds 

 

After a short feeding break we stroll through the hall where we see that there is more to do than just music. There is for instance jewelry for sale, handmade by no one other than Dianne van Giersbergen (Xandria, Ex Libris). Necklaces, bracelets and earrings are made from guitar strings and stones. A beautiful view. Anyone still interested can have a look at the Precious Metal Facebook page.

We’re back in the hall just in time for Asrai. This gothic band is still primarily composed of women, fitting this festival nicely. Asrai lets us hear the melancholically sound that is so typical for the band. The singing style of Margriet has never really convinced me. Almost all songs also keep repeating the same slow rhythm, and cannot keep me interested for very long. Luckily a large number of people in the audience disagree with me, and the band plays the songs from the large repertoire very well throughout the set. We also get to see the new bass player Jett in action as well as getting a few numbers from the new album Between Dreams and Destiny, such as “Stone Cold,” “Overworld” and “Angel.”

 

Asrai 

 

As one of the headliners of tonight, we are served something a bit louder. Izegrim is up next! The death/trash metal band, mostly from Zutphen, is known among other things for their vocalist. This lady plays the bass and has quite a voice. With her appearance, she’s tall with long blond hair, and with her grunts and growls she steals the show. You would expect these kind of vocals from maybe another band member like Jeroen, but he stays quiet and just plays guitar. Right from the start the pace is set to be bloody fast, this is going to be a blast! Marloes announces the third track to be “Relic of the Past.” This is also the opening number on their new CD which can be acquired from the stand with the shirts and other things. Marloes is also the face on the FemME festival t-shirt, of which she is clearly quite proud. After this announcement, the death metal soon again blasts past us. The public is thanked by Marloes for staying around to see them, as she is really wondering if they’re not too loud. The crowd however immediately let them know they want it louder and faster, of which I can only approve. A mosh pit or wall of death is out of the question with the crowd here today, but I can imagine this would be a very different sight in other concerts where Izegrim plays. The band is obviously having a really good time on stage. The music sounds really tight, but they even have time to goof around. Jeroen is dared to go on the catwalk, but he refuses at first. In the last song played, “World Power or Downfall,” however, he takes Marloes up on the challenge and does run the catwalk. It’s clear to me why this is one of the headliners for FemME, as the entire performance just explodes on stage and is a joy to witness.

 

Izegrim 

 

Last but certainly not least, MaYaN hits the stage. After an intro that is a bit long for my taste, finally everyone is on stage. There was some expectation for the venue to fill up during the day in expectance of the headliners, but sadly this hasn’t really happened. The band however doesn’t seem to care and start to play with full dedication. The not so small stage of de Effenaar is filled to the brim by the ten band members, although they aren’t all onstage all time. There are many changes in who is onstage, depending on what is needed vocally. This not only makes it nice and varying to hear, but also to watch. Throughout the day, all bands have been playing the drum kit supplied by theNAME, but this has now been changed to the kit branded Epica, which is clearly Ariën’s. He really lets loose on the drums right from the first song “Bloodline Forfeit,” as expected him to do. The band is reinforced tonight by both Laura Macrì and Marcela Bovio, which brings us a few lovely sounding vocal combinations in a number of the songs performed. A good example is “Burn your Witches” in which especially the ending together with Henning and Mark is quite a pleasure to hear. The entire band is quite impressive to watch on stage. All members are clearly having a good time. In “Paladins of Deceit” we can enjoy the fast grunts of Mark and the guitar riffs in “Devil in Disguise” are also an enjoyable treat. This number is also really great for some serious headbanging. Merel is giving a show, although she´s looking a little pale, not totally fit. This is not reflected in her guitar play as this is as great as always. The encore consists of “Drown the Demon” and “Faceless Spies”. The normal break between concert and encore is nonexistent tonight, as the band almost instantly continues playing. For the last song Dimitris Katsoulis joins in on violin, which makes it a perfect ending to a very good MaYaN set.

 

MaYaN 

 

All-in all the organization should be pleased with such a first edition. The concept is clearly suited to differentiate from other events involving women and metal. The idea combining both fashion and rock music works really well, there appears to be quite the interaction between the two. The energy blew from both the catwalk as well as the stage and there is something for almost everybody in the fashion and rock areas. The turnout was a bit low though. As far as I know, there weren´t really any competitors this weekend, but maybe a Sunday was not the right day for a happening as this one. As announced, there will be a second FemME edition next year. We´re also very curious as to the video recordings done by the B&M crew, there might be a DVD on the way? I can really recommend the event. Not just for the female fronted metal scene, but a lot wider. The concept includes more than just music and it’s very likely this will be expanded upon in the next editions of the festival. If the lineup is anywhere near as nice as this year, count me in!

 

FemMe 

 

At publication of FemME I, the dates for FemME II are already set: 16-17 October 2015

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