‘Santiago Resiste’ and the Team behind FemFest

“The little baby has leprosy! Will you take care of her for me? She’s rotten!” With a little help from some friends, Horregias belted out the lyrics to this song, “Guagüita,” at the showcase “Santiago Resiste” in April.

 Bar Uno, Photo by Oisín Keely
Bar Uno, Photo by Oisín Keely

The three-woman band played the perfect set to end the night at Bar Uno. With their girlish looks, dark lipstick and a touch of face paint, they could have passed for trick-or-treaters on Halloween night. But instead of asking for candy they took the stage with confidence, slinging their instruments around like pros and reveling in their own ghoulish tunes.

 Hijo de Ladrón, Photo by Oisín Keeley
Hijo de Ladrón, Photo by Oisín Keeley

Despite a lengthy line-up of four bands, the show felt fun and upbeat. Hijo de Ladrón opened on a youthful, punky note, although they ultimately fell a little flat. The songs, accompanied by soft female vocals, seemed almost too timid to live up to the band's angsty heritage.

Next up was La Secta del Perro, an energetic threesome hidden most of the time behind dark masks. They glided through a strident post-punk set with an acoustic and an electric guitar playing off each other in improvised riffs. Clearly a group of experienced musicians, La Secta del Perro had fun with their fast-paced, cyclical songs.

 Vaso de Leche, Photo by Oisín Keeley
Vaso de Leche, Photo by Oisín Keeley

Vaso de Leche played third to a rapidly growing crowd and nailed out a tight, original punk rock of their own. The smart, politically-charged lyrics, with topics ranging from the Mapochos to May of 1968, only added to the powerful, melodic music.

Apart from La Secta del Perro, it was hard not to notice a strong female presence onstage. This wasn’t by chance. Behind the billing of “Santiago Resiste” lie the coordinators of FemFest, an organization that came together in 2004 to meet a need in the Chilean cultural scene.

Constanza Cristi, one of FemFest’s coordinators, sat down with Revolver in the lounge above Bar Uno. She explained that their first goal as an organization, after having fun of course, was to create a space where women could express themselves artistically without discrimination.

FemFest is not girls only. In fact they seem more interested in a set of values than any strict rules. They make decisions together, always coming back to the group to discuss the next step before taking it. They welcome whoever comes with an open mind, ready to share rather than criticize.

 Horregias, Photo by Oisín Keeley
Horregias, Photo by Oisín Keeley

Carolina Ozaus of Vaso de Leche, another FemFest coordinator, soon came and sat down opposite Cristi. As she spoke she watched a man stub his cigarette out on the floor, while a woman threw hers into an ashtray. Ozaus used this as an example to point out that women have different ways of operating than men. FemFest gives its artists the opportunity to develop that understanding and to play with gender and other concepts in front of a crowd.

Smaller showcases, such as “Santiago Resiste”, allow FemFest to raise funds, to build relationships within the community and to put smaller bands in front of an audience to see how they connect. The organization’s big shebang comes at the end of the year when they host a major festival with music and other activities. This year will mark the 7th anniversary of Femfest in Chile.

FemFest begins their next series of showcases on May 7 at Centro Arte Alameda featuring the band Odessa y Nichos.

VASO DE LECHE http://www.myspace.com/vasodeleche
HORREGIAS http://www.myspace.com/horregias
HIJO DE LADRÓN http://www.myspace.com/hijodeladron
LA SECTA DEL PERRO http://www.myspace.com/lainternacionaldelperro

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