The nonprofit organization Lehigh Valley Girls Rock is part of a worldwide movement that is working toward a future that empowers all women (including trans and nonbinary individuals) through music and art. They started The Band Factory initiative in November. The Band Factory Showcase took place on Saturday, February 16th at National Sokols, a venue that hosts a variety of events to highlight the talent that resides in South Side Bethlehem.
Board President and Co-founder Kelsi Page of Lehigh Valley Girls Rock proposed the idea for the Band Factory to Director and Co-founder Felicia Lockett. “We modified a program run by Girls Rock North Carolina called Rock Roulette. Kelsi learned about Rock Roulette during a workshop at the Girls Rock Camp Alliance conference. She loved it and wanted us to try it!” Lockett said.
The Band Factory matched participants–any woman, trans, and nonbinary adults 18 and older–with one another based on style and compatibility, resulting in seven new bands. Each wrote three original songs, practiced extensively, and refined their set to play on Saturday night. The additional goal was to fundraise so that women of all ages looking to find passion in music could attend community workshops and rock camps in the Lehigh Valley.
The lineup had seven acts perform: Elemental Guts, Glitterpuss, Naked Eye, Purrvert, Queen City Efemmerals, Softner, and Spectra. Each set lasted approximately ten to fifteen minutes, bringing a unique identity and style of rock to the show. “For many participants, it was their first ever performance,” Lockett said. “Also, everyone on the stage were genders that historically have had low representation in the cis-male-dominated music industry.”
The first band, Queen City Efemmerals, used an accordion, mandolin, and drums to accompany the singer’s vocals, exuding an aura of playfulness in their first song, a take on a love song. They added theatricality to their performance to match the tone of their song. She interacted with the crowd through gestures, such as pointing and making eye contact during lyrics with the word “you.” The crowd clapped along as the tempo sped up. On stage, the lead singer smiled and laughed along with the crowd, bringing the fun vibe of the event back to the forefront.
The guitar was the primary sound heard on Elemental Guts’ set. The melody had people bobbing their heads up and down with the occasional cymbal crash resonating, enjoying the piece. The lead singer’s voice had a smooth yet gritty tone, which matched perfectly with the guitar chords. The aura was more mysterious during this song, creating a spectacular dramatic effect when the bass dropped and the bridge of the song began.
These are only two of the seven groups that performed on Saturday. The talent in the venue was evident as each band took to the stage.
“I got to see all of the participants be rockstars for the night! I love Lehigh Valley Girls Rock events not only because of the people who take part in them, but also because of the crowd we draw. It’s incredible to hear the audience cheering on the performers and being another source of support and encouragement,” Lockett said. “My other favorite part was how almost every single participant told me afterwards that the program was life-changing. A few people even said that the showcase was the best night of their lives.”
The event was a huge success. Through online fundraising, ticket and raffle sales, and merchandise purchases, Lehigh Valley Girls Rock raised over $10,000. All of the bands and the organization overall put so much dedication and hard work into this event, and the shared love of music by the community helped their vision become reality.