The Origins of the Riot Grrrl Ethos

Spanish Music: Woman in Music Concert Review Featuring Paula Bila, Juno and Juanita Banana

Women in Music - Mujeres en Musica:  Madrid Concert 19th April 2018, Moby Dick, Madrid. My thesis is focusing primarily on the role of women in the Spanish music industry so when I had booked my flight for a research trip to Madrid and realised there was a 'Mujeres en Musica' (women in music) gig happening the week that I was there, it was like I had wished really, really hard and my dream came true. I organised to meet a fellow feminist friend of mine and we went to the gig together.  Having stopped for a glass of vino and some tapas in La Latina before the gig, we were ready for some fun. 

Paula Bila We arrived a little late, around half way through Paula Bila's acousitic set.  Paula owned the stage with no more than a semi-acoustic and a magnificent voice.  The audience were almost silent, entranced by her ethereal beauty.   A little chat to Paula later on revealed that she's been living in Ireland for the last few years although she's originally from Cadiz, in the south of Spain.  The mix of the Andalusian passion and Irish beauty evident in her music. 

Juno and Darrell Then Juno and Darrell took to the stage.  A complete change in direction musically for the second band of the night.  Under the dark lights we could see them setting up some very cool looking electronic equipment, plugged into keys and mics.  The sound started, soulful rhythms filling the air.  I was instantly hooked.  Juno's repetition in her lyrics made you feel that the song was one of your old favouites by the beginning of the first chorus .  Easy to sing along to.  What impressed me most was her ability to connect with the audience.  Every movement was mimicked by the dancing crowd. Every 'yeah' sang back at her.  She took time to talk about her songs and dedicated many to the women in the room, the mothers, the lovers, the strong females.  "Mama keep it up coz everybody loves you, you're gonna kill it!" is the line I've been singing all week.  A homage to all the hard working Mum's out there, an anthem for when times are tough, motivation for jaded mothers.  They left the audience (including me) wanting to hear a lot more! 

Juanita Banana
After another trip to the bar in between sets, Juanita Banana hit the stage with force and power.  A five piece force of nature with guitar, bass, drums, keyboard and saxophone.  The music was heavy, but not punk.  The best way I can describe their sound is 'Rockabilly Ska Riot Grrrl'  'Die Cheerleader' meets meets Mexican Ska (in fact, my friends at 'La Tomasa Ska Band' in Mexico should give these girls a listen)  Everyone was up moving their feet straight away.  The looked feisty, furious, feminine.  The music filled the room and we surfed 'Beach Boy's' style along to the infectious rhythms.  Each song groovier and spicier than the last.  My personal favourites of the night were "Procrastinar" (Procrastinate) and "Cucarachas" (Cockroaches). 

I went home with sore feet from dancing and a need to sleep.  The concert left me feeling strong and sexy. Comfortable in my own skin and powerful in my mind. The music resonated to the depths, calling on all of those insecurities that we feel and stamping on them firmly with a loud shout: No more! I vowed there and then to do everything possible to help the fight for more women to be represented in music. Music is a tool for empowerment, a whole day can be changed depending on which song is running through your mind, which lyric has become your motto for the day and I personally want to spend my days feeling strong, smart and sexy. My adventure in Spain's capital was just beginning and I already felt that it was giving me more than I could have imagined or wished for...  Little did I know that this would be the calmest night of the weekend.  
A lot more was yet to come.... Coming next: Friday Night in a punk bar and a moment of 'I have no idea where the hell I am!' (C) Stephanie Burgess-Arteaga, 2018