Last week, we prepped for the holiday of lights and showboating with a performance serene and gorgeous as the sound of a flowing stream after a good rain. Allison Gliesman’s voice is one of the most alluring we’ve ever heard, and with both their popular band Mess and their solo project sex ed, we are consistently floored by the quality of songwriting. We urge you to get out to a show, but until then, here are some highlights of one of our favorite performers. Period.
On February 26th, Soccer Mommy made a phenomenal appearance at the recordBar in Kansas City, MO to a sold out crowd. Openers Mess and Hovvdy laid perfect groundwork for the rowdy group, who were all in for a night of emotional and heartbreaking music. The house was packed before Hovvdy even started playing. which would normally come as a surprise to Kansas City concert-goers, as our city isn’t known for showing up early for the opening act. But Mess has developed a reputation of incredibly vibrant vocals and highly relatable songs that bring their crowds out early with anticipation. This evening seemed to be no exception, and we’re overjoyed that we got to witness that spark Mess ignites with each performance once again.
When Hovvdy took the stage, their steady, slow, crooning energy took over. And that same energy continued into the night, Soccer Mommy propelling it forward with her own brand of east coast bedroom pop. Within the summertime sounds of “Last Girl”, woven into the edge of “Skin”, and found in her older catalog inclusions as well, this type of energy is almost indescribable. Quirky, young, inspired, fun.
It seemed – in a moment surrounded by this soundscape, this crowd – around the third song of Soccer Mommy’s performance, that perhaps it wasn’t just this crowd that had latched on to the debut album she released just last summer. No, it seemed as if the words from Clean had soaked into our very surroundings, and that recordBar was emitting this palpable energy that made said surroundings feel like home.
These days, it can be difficult to determine one songstress from another, let alone save a track and keep the name of its creator in your music library. This time of year, everyone is posting their “Best of” lists for 2018. We aren’t doing a super deep dive. We’ve just chosen 7 of our favorite female vocalists that have really ignited our hearts in the last year or so – one we found as recently as a couple of weeks ago! – and we’re all about sharing! Check out some of our favorite non-male performers below, and then maybe go make an entire WHO RUN THE WORLD? playlist featuring each and every one of these powerhouses!
by meredith schneider
Billie Eilish wasn’t someone we saw coming. Having jammed out to a couple of her songs, Bonnaroo 2018 brought her to the stage in front of us for the first time. A look of vulnerability in her eyes, she gave that crowd more than what she had that day, throwing her body into her stage presence and really working the stage so that everyone felt like they were a part of it. Each new release brings with it an extended feeling of empowerment, and we’re keen on what’s to come for this incredibly talented young musician. (See video at the end of this piece: she is one of Tan France’s favorites!)
by christie mcmenamin
Lucy Dacus‘ voice is tranquil, delicate, and perfectly matched to her bittersweet, relatable lyrics. We’ve fallen in love with her as gently as her music progression over the years. We’re super pleased with her new supergroup boygenius (see: Julien Baker below), if not only because it gives us an additional reason to see her live more often. All the heart eyes going into 2019 on this lady!
by jeo taymany
Ness Heads is a Chicago-based artist who sings a soulful mixture of R&B and hip hop, with a bit of a pop flare. Her single “Flip Em” threw us for a loop during the summer of 2018, and we’re keeping that energy going through the next month as we hustle through our last minute year-end “to do” lists.
by christie mcmenamin
The world’s lead producer of sad music, Julien Baker stole our hearts a few years ago, but her stage presence and the incredible way she interacts with her fans is something of note. We were lucky enough to have seen her both locally and at 2018’s last ever Sasquatch Music Festival, and were floored on a number of occasions by her prowess. Check her out with new supergroup boygenius!
by erin p.s. zimmerman
It was 2016 when we first had the unique pleasure of photographing Bishop Briggs, as she prepped for an evening performing at the Midland in Kansas City. Flash forward 2 years and we’ve seen her a number of additional times, photographed her once more (see above photo, SXSW 2017), and have continued to follow each and every impassioned song that she releases as she’s toured the country multiple times, played every festival known to mankind, and as her music has been placed in both television and film. Her energy is unlike any other when she steps on stage, and her compassion is limitless. (See: her recent haircut) Plus, she was just featured on JVN’s podcast, so she’s definitely “having a moment!”
by meredith schneider
Mess lead singer Allison Gliesman is a kind, hilarious, and obscenely generous human soul. We’re fortunate to know them as a friend, but their music stunned us even before we met them face to face. Flash forward to witnessing those powerhouse vocals one night at The Rino in KC and our world was changed forever. If you haven’t yet blasted a Mess song at full volume in your car, now is the time. Keep your eyes peeled for this one.
by dara munnis
I was at Sasquatch Music Festival photographing a female-led band at one stage, when the music from another stage flooded my ears. Like a siren call, I followed it, toting my boyfriend like a rag doll. This. Woman. Has. Chops. Tash Sultana. After three songs, I turned and said, “She can do it all. Seriously. What can’t she do?” As if she could hear me, she got out a pan flute within 30 seconds… and started to beat box with it.
If you aren’t in love just with that statement, then I don’t know who you are. Insane. That’s the only word to describe it.
BONUS – While our other listing pieces will include just 7 representatives, we may have gone overboard BECAUSE WE ARE SO FLOORED BY SO MANY RAD NON-MALE VOCALISTS. So check out our list add-on below, and revel in the glory of 8 incredible humans!
June 29th and 30th marked another year of Middle of The Map Fest in Kansas City, MO. Having morphed into several different versions of itself over the years, this year the festival narrowed its performance dates to two, and stepped up their local music offerings. Acts like Rachel Mallin & The Wild Type, Mess, Chloe Jacobson, and Other Americans tore up several stages in the Kansas City Crossroads during the day, despite the insane heat. Social Distortion, Built to Spill, Grizzly Bear, Spoon, and more were phenomenal headliners, and made it easy to forget the outside world. Urban magic. Ashleigh Lee nabbed some pictures for us during the two day event, so we thought it was time to share!