Gulf Coast Girls Are Hip: Babefest founder Angela Page on why she's bringing the noise north to St. Pete

The arts & activism party happens on May 20 on downtown St. Pete's 600 Block

Wet Nurse, which plays Babefest 2017 at Fubar in St. Petersburg, Florida on May 20, 2017.c/o Babefest

If you find yourself on The 600 Block on Saturday, then you’re going to find yourself at Babefest. The arts and activism festival has come up from its home in Fort Myers, and it’ll be shutting down part of 7th Street S. so that vendors, zine purveyors and a food truck can entertain anyone who wants to walk up. If you want some music in your life (and like paying covers that that support the efforts of nonprofits like Planned Parenthood), then you’re going to want to head inside Fubar, where eight female-fronted acts from across central Florida will play starting at 5:30 p.m. Here’s a rundown, in order of appearance, and what you can expect to hear.

The Good Bad Kids Folkabilly three-piece formed in 2013. What happens when ukulele, upright bass and lap steel meets lotsa geetars, harmonica and a singing drummer? These Kids’ version of America, which shines on easygoing songs like “Howdy” and the rowdy singalong “Handcuffs.”

The Palmettes Surf’s up in Orlando thanks to Sabra Starr and Jana Mays, who pilot the keys and uke for The Palmettes on a 2014 demo of beach-ready garage pop.

Snowmoon Miami’s Snowmoon is turning a busy spring into a productive summer with its new eight-track EP (Afterglow, releases in February), on which the band bounces between radio-ready alt-rock and mathy jams.

The Young Dead Born on the beach but meant for the garage, where the band spins a love for literature into moody guitar rockers like “Unconventional Love Song.” The Young Dead’s frontwoman Angela Page is the subject of our Babefest profile up there.

The Pauses Long-running, universally loved Orlando trio led by Tierney Tough, who recently spent what felt like a ton of time crisscrossing the country with Matt Pond PA. The Pauses’ lasting impression, however, is a rich sound built upon carefully planned layers of synths, uke, bells, brass and perfectly positioned guitar crunch.

Wet Nurse Another Orlando band nearing the decade mark, Wet Nurse has lasted thanks to an unapologetically fun, usually fast and sometimes sloppy brand of retro, powerful pop-punk that always inspires a flurry activity directly in front of the stages it plays.

Psychic Dose The most metal band on the Babefest lineup, this Fort Myers trio fronted by Amanda Howell comes supporting a spooky December 2016 EP (Myrkviðr) suited for the mythical forests it’s named after.

Red Nectar Red Nectar’s music is not meant for laptop speakers. Nah, songs like “Aura Absence” and “Strange” from last year’s Hairball EP are meant to be heard live and in the flesh with bassist/singer Michelle Grand screaming fuzzed-out surf-punk lyrics into your smiling face. 

click to enlarge GRRRL, POWERED: Angela Page of Love Your Rebellion and The Young Dead. - Seeker Photography
Seeker Photography
GRRRL, POWERED: Angela Page of Love Your Rebellion and The Young Dead.

It’s no secret, but for the most part, music is a boys’ club.

Forbes magazine’s list of the top 30 highest paid musicians of 2016 has seven women on it. In 2010, the Nashville Scene reported that only five percent of the city’s professional producers and engineers were women. A new industry-funded study of the British music business found that just 30 percent of senior executive roles in the music industry are occupied by women. That’s despite them making up 60 and 59 percent of the intern and entry-level roles, respectively.

[This is an interview with Babefest founder Angela Page, listen to the bands playing the fest by scrolling to the bottom of the post.]

There are certainly women playing a part in Tampa Bay music scene; No Clubs marketing and PR director Kristin Stigaard, Amalie Arena’s senior manager of event marketing Angela Lanza and promoter Julia Stewart are just a few who come to mind.

But take a step back and look at the journalists, the top brass, the big picture of talent buyers, venue owners and bands — it’s a man’s world out there.

Which is why it’s important to pay attention to things like Babefest, an arts and activism festival created by Love Your Rebellion (LYR) founder Angela Page. The 32-year-old guitarist and singer of Fort Myers band The Young Dead was born in Pembroke Pines and moved to Orlando for school. She eventually earned an MFA from Goddard College before moving to the left coast in search of beach vibes.

She found them there, and she also found a righteous group of women after starting the writing group which became LYR. The group has flourished into a full-fledged feminist collective focused on community outreach, education, and arts diversity. It now produces literature, products and podcasts in which they discuss things like trans rights and even the nuances of being a feminist in the American south. Last year, LYR made a compilation tape and decided to throw a release party. Babefest was born, and it packed Fort Myers’ Nice Guys Pizza to the gills, forcing Page to look for a bigger venue for year two.

“Nice Guys is kind of like the safe haven for the weirdos and the freaks down here, but there are no mid-size venues that can do 250-350 bodies other than Buddha Bar, which is basically a butt-rock bar,” Page told CL.

“Butt rock [dated classic-rock or hair-metal styles] is a very popular genre here, which is cool — everyone has got their thing. I just want people to know that Fort Myers has come a long way in its efforts to build an inclusive community that is more than [snowbirds] and Trump voters. I just didn’t think we could bring out the audience like we can up there.”

The “up there” Page speaks of is downtown St. Pete’s rapidly changing 600 Block, where eight female-fronted bands will take the stage at Fubar on May 20 for Babefest 2. Mostly punk-leaning outfits from Orlando, Miami and Fort Myers will be on hand when the fest also shuts down 7th Street S. between Central Avenue and First Avenue S. so that vendors, a food truck and makers of central Florida-based zines like Gulf Coast Girls, Tittie Thyme and Phosphene Girls can interact with people whether they buy a ticket to see the bands inside or not (Page says she reached out to Bay area bands and got no response — she hopes that changes in 2018).

All of it helps raise money for nonprofits like Planned Parenthood, which continues to be under siege in a climate where necessities as basic as clean water and fundamental human rights have been politicized.

"I just want people to know that Fort Myers has come a long way in its efforts to build an inclusive community that is more than [snowbirds] and Trump voters."

“Most of those words have been branded by an authoritarian right that is trying really hard to keep people oppressed, so of course people listening to more right-wing or more authoritarian media are going to be more standoffish, or even angry and resistant to something like ‘feminism,’” Page said.

She thinks those people stand in the way of their own freedom and that they are the same folks who are more likely to believe their leaders than they are to trust the person standing right next to them and making an impact in the community.

“I’ve seen the impact. I do this every day, [but] they still won’t believe me because they would rather believe some person on high,” she said. “They won’t believe someone who is just the same as them, you know, in the same economic bracket, living in the same community.”

And that’s why Babefest must exist: to bring people together under the banner of rock and roll so they can declare that ideas like feminism, and the notion that women can rock just as hard as men, make complete sense. Sure, the nuances of it can be confusing (Page talked a bit about intersectional feminism and the complexities it can create within a movement), but at its core all of it is very simple, much like the phrase Page uses to close her podcasts — “Do no harm, but take no shit.”

“It comes from the witches’ motto, and basically means don’t hurt someone or be malicious in your intention, but also don’t let anyone fuck with you,” Page said. “If someone fucks with you and the people you love, then give it right back to them. Don’t do bad things in the world, but don’t let bad things happen to you and just lay on the ground being a defeatist.”

Get more information on Babefest 2017 via local.cltampa.com, and listen to music from the bands below. 

LYR's Babefest 2017
w/Wet Nurse/The Pauses/The Young Dead/The Palmettes/Red Nectar/more
Sat. May 20, 4 p.m. $15-$20.
Fubar, 658 Central Ave., St. Petersburg

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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