These days feminism is a hot topic. You cannot bat an eyelash without hearing someone talk about the inequalities of women, and what is wrong with American society. And if you are looking for proof that women, especially in the music industry, are still not being taken as seriously as they should be, just take Beyoncé Knowles‘ MTV Video Music Awards Video Vanguard performance this year. The medley was incredible, but were people focused on that? Of course not. They were instead fixated on her outfit and her body, not what she was standing for. And she isn’t alone. Other women, such as Lorde, Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift, and Gwen Stefani, are incredibly talented women who are constructed in media in an over-sexualized way, causing people to think that women are just objects to look at.
Take Miley Cyrus. Her 2013 MTV Video Music Awards performance was considered grotesque by some, and many others said it was degrading to women. The performance and Miley herself were both objectifying women with the help of a foam finger. Miley could potentially get some credit for expressing herself and not caring about what people say about her, though. That is something that all people, regardless of their gender, should work on.
On the other hand, some female artists are using their talents to help women’s images and, for lack of a better word, cliches. In Beyoncé’s song, “Flawless,” she talks about how important the equality of the sexes are with the help of Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In the song, Adichie says, “Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” Beyoncé and Adichie hit the nail on the head with that one, seeing as that is the common goal of many feminists. Positive expression without any degrading actions or words is the best way to use musical talent.
Women should be able to express themselves in any way that they want to though, just like men do. Did you think about the feedback Robin Thicke got from his joint performance with Miley on the VMAs? He was a married man at that time, acting just as inappropriate as Cyrus, and yet he got maybe a quarter of the negative feedback that she did. That was something that should have been talked about in the media, the fact that the feedback was sexist and one sided, not about how much Cyrus’s butt looks like a raw turkey.
Musicians have a certain power through their work. They can express their thoughts and opinions through their songs, which is a complete blessing. Many artists recognize this and understand the great power they possess and work with it, sending messages and expressing themselves in the best way possible. But the fact that some artists create images of themselves that are not as respectable creates controversy in media, which is exactly what society wants. Even though there are arguments and opinions in society about the bad that women are doing in the limelight, it is what fuels the discussion and the pop culture industry as a whole. So we have Beyoncé on one hand and Miley Cyrus on the other, but the two overly successful women are portrayed in media very differently. Each person has the right to express themselves in any way, but unfortunately society and media interprets things in the most extreme ways.
Twice a year Boston receives a gift. The music gods shine down on the city and give it two three-day festivals. Everyone from Lorde to Volcano Choir was there, creating an unforgettable weekend for the music enthusiasts in and around Boston.
Friday consisted of three bands, Future Islands, Neutral Milk Hotel, and The National. The crowds were excited, the volunteers were happy and patient, the beer was flowing, and the food was plentiful. The festival kicked off with no problems.
The next day Sonicbids Winner, Clifflight, S. Carey, Sky Ferreira, Bleachers, The Hold Steady, Volcano Choir, Girl Talk, Lorde, and Childish Gambino were all scheduled to play. Unfortunately, the music gods got upset with Boston, creating one of the most intense storms to pass over the city in a while. It evacuated everyone in the (outside) venue to surrounding restaurants, retail stores, and even parking garages. People got sent into a parking garages with policemen lining the doors making sure everyone stayed inside. The wait was about two hours and finally word got out that everyone could return. When the venue was cleared and ready to let the festival goers back in, it was announced that Lorde would play next, cancelling Volcano Choir and Girl Talk. Lorde opened the show back up thanking the fans for waiting. She did her classic dance moves, stayed connected with the audience, and was clearly happy to be experiencing Boston with her fans. Childish Gambino came on next, bringing energy into the crowd. He had people who did not even know his music grooving down, his stage presence was fantastic, jumping all around the stage and clearly having a ball performing.
The third day was a typical September day. The sun was out, (and stayed out all day), the festival attendants were dancing around the venue, and not one raindrop was shed, (shedding of tears by diehard fans? That is another story). There was music all afternoon, but the band that stood out towards the end was Spoon. There were conversations going on all around about how badly everyone has wanted to see them live, and finally they came out. They were calm, playing some of their new stuff but also pleasing the crowd with their old hits. The other act Sunday that took the crowd by storm was Nas and The Roots. The Roots left the set for The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon and came to play Boston for a night. Nas and The Roots vibed together fantastically, sharing the stage equally and clearly enjoying themselves.
One of the most important aspects of a concert is the stage presence of the performers. The engaging performances are the ones that really stand out, and eventually make the artist or band more successful. Twenty One Pilots went into the crowd to perform, The 1975 brought a fan on stage, and Lorde talked to the audience like they were her friends. It is important for the artists to talk to the audience and be present in the moment. Explaining the origins of the songs, making connections with the people… All of those parts of performing are what makes or breaks the show.
Overall, the weekend was a success. There was adventure in regards to the nasty thunderstorm, great food venders, amazingly helpful volunteers, and finally of course, phenomenal musical acts. Each band was different and made the weekend the best it could have possibly been.