Sunday, November 5, 2017

Recording: Emel Mathlouthi

Artist: Emel Mathlouthi

Song: Dfina*

Recorded at Artscape Daniels Spectrum (Venus Fest), September 30, 2017.

Emel Mathlouthi - Dfina

The idea of a "feminist music festival" might bring to mind an earnest folkie gathering, maybe off in a forest somewhere, but this first annual event was nothing like that, using inclusive and intersectional ideals as guideposts to programming a day of wide-ranging musics. The brainchild of local musician Aerin Fogel, Venus Fest was an ambitious undertaking, presenting a dozen performances in Daniels Spectrum's spacious multi-purpose Regent Park digs. And it all came together quite wonderfully, highlighting a diverse slate of mostly local musicians and incorporating flourishes like Vanessa Rieger's live-mixed visuals. With this first festival completed, there's a new "sessions" series starting up, and lots of energy to build on the positive vibes this day released.

After performances by Lido Pimienta and Weaves, the last segment of the festival felt like a different show entirely. The event's visiting artists got the nominally-headlining "prestige" slots, but also played to smaller crowds than the local heroes. The diminished audience was the only regrettable thing in Emel Mathlouthi's local debut, as she showed off her postmodern protest trip-hop/folk anthems. Hailing from Tunisia, where her music was a revolutionary force, Mathlouthi is now based in New York City, so one hopes that she'll return to these parts in the not too distant future. Symbolically, this was an excellent finish to the superbly-curated event, and hopefully Venus Fest will build on this most memorable day.

* Thanks to a twitter commenter for passing along the title to this one!

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