Heavy metal band Year of the Wolf took the stage next to fuel the dark side. Howling throughout and truly harnessing the energy of a wolf, these three women shared the stage equally by switching lead vocals and killing it on their instrument of choice. What I loved most was their ability to use rage and destruction not in an intimidating way, but rather playful and fun. Instead of scaring what might be hesitant listeners, the audience seemed to really dig their set. Continuing the festival were Renee Plant and Lynda Lee, bringing the Oregon rain with them and what seemed to be a majority of the crowd. This alt-country band was fun-loving and is the kind of band you’d probably want to see live in an intimate setting, whether that be at a dive bar or at an outdoor festival. Relaxed and easygoing, the musicians performed with a passion that would pair well with a cold beer and a group of close friends.

The transition to Bullets & Belles may have seen a lot of the audience leaving, yet this a cappella trio still performed their doo-wop guts out, leading the crowd to ask for encore after encore. With Ryan Cron and Noel Sandberg blending harmonies with vocalist Erin Haley-Cron at the center, upbeat and effortless tunes were shared comparable to the likes of a modern remix of a Motown hit blended with a barbershop quartet. As they played their final tune, Minx took the stage with lead singer Ischa Bee completely owning the stage. I was delighted to see how assertive she was with her confidence, and her performance was equally brave, sexy and fun. Her IDGAF-attitude reminded me of the same kind of grooves by Peaches, twisting clichés into positive beats and power-pop tunes. Leading to conclude the night, gypsy band Juana Ghani transformed the audience from sitting down and watching to full participation through dancing and celebration. Equipped with belly dancers and an orchestra of instruments, the 13 performers brought a magical liveliness to their production by bringing carnival vibes to the festival. Filled with imagination and a creative outlook on their performance was a fantastic addition to the fest, and certainly added a jovial intoxication to the souls of all who were there. Wrapping up with Juana Ghani’s flutist came Allison Martin and Friends. With the amount of energy she exerted during the gypsy fest, I was surprised to see how composed she remained to deliver her feelings over the keyboard.

If you made it to the fest, I’m sure you felt the welcoming energy that was created in the space at the Free Speech Zone. With frequent invitations between sets to speak whatever comes to your mind, it was more than just an event to showcase local female musicians. The organizers did a fantastic job at giving a space for people to shine and to share the things that propel them, empowering the female voice while fostering open minds in all. Cheers to Lady Fest!