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Slabtown fest a riot for Grrrls

Bands, comedians light up first four-day Grrrl Front event


Northwest Portland’s Slabtown became Grrrltown last weekend when it hosted the first Slabtown Grrrl Front, a four-day all-ages music festival just for girls.

The festival also included performances by 25 bands, eight comedians, a clothes swap, art show and zine workshop — showing girls how to publish and distribute their own music media. The festival finished off with a “Smash the Media” Dance Party to encourage girls to think critically of the media they consume.

The festival was founded to highlight women and creativity in a fun atmosphere while giving recognition to community groups that represent and support women and community. The event also helped raise money for In Other Words feminist center, Fat Fancy, a radical fat fashion boutique on Southwest Morrison Street, and Bitch Media, a Portland nonprofit feminist media organization. The Friday evening clothing swap raised money for Reading Frenzy, and the Saturday afternoon art auction benefitted Planned Parenthood.

For event organizer Melissa Meszaros, who had expected that the event would just be friends of the venue and the bands, Grrrl Front far exceeded expectations. “I never anticipated that it would explode the way it did,” she says.

While most of the people at the event were in the 21-and-older crowd, at least one teenage girl and a mother and her children attended.

To bring in more audience members, on Sunday ticket prices — originally $7 a day, or $20 for the whole weekend — were slashed to $1. At midnight, Slabtown decided that the dance party was free and encouraged Facebook fans to join the celebration.

The festival also included a demonstration with The Fullbright Co., showcasing its Riot Grrrl-inspired adventure game, Gone Home. The story exploration game is set in 1995 and features famous riot grrl bands such as Heavens to Betsy and Bratmobile.

The Riot Grrrl Movement began in the 1990s, started by Washington band Bikini Kill, and inspired a movement of girls who wanted to prove that they too had a place in the world and the music scene.

The event was full of Portland Riot Grrrl enthusiasts looking to have a good time. The Portland Renegade Roller Derby had a table set up on Thursday and Sunday sporting the slogan “Keeping Derby Dirty” to promote awareness of their organization and recruit fans, skaters, sponsors and volunteers.

“It was a great mix of women with some really unique talent, and really showcased typical Portland culture and what makes our city special,” Meszaros says.