Women artists, musicians, and performers celebrated at ‘Babefest’

This weekend was all about the babes in Fairbanks. Babefest returned to The Pub on Friday for their 4th annual celebration of women artists, musicians, and performers. The event drew an enthusiastic audience who showed tons of support for the music and the women-centric theme of the show.

“It’s a great crowd,” said UAF student Syd Paulino on the night of the performances.

Babefest, dubbed this year as Babefest IV, is about inclusivity and creating a safe space for female-identified performers to freely express their art. The event featured several musicians and performers as well as FLOW, the Fairbanks Ladies of Wrestling. The event also had tables for Planned Parenthood and the local organization Hrrrl Scouts set up for attendees to visit and learn more about.

Among the performers were a spectacular line-up of bands and musicians ranging from the bluesy harmonica-infused sounds of Annie Where The Sun Don’t Shine to the conscious and high intensity rap of AKU-MATU.

The first performer of the night was Amelia Cooper, whose soft and mellow guitar chords and clear voice set a calm mood for the beginning of the night. Following Amelia was Heather Warren, who took the stage immediately after to deliver a powerful set of poems.

First performer who opened up Babe Fest, Amelia Cooper, playing mellow guitar notes with clear and resonating vocals.

Heather Warren’s poetry slammed against the ears of the crowd with a steady and emotional cadence. The end of each line was met often with sounds of agreement and support from the audience, who felt the themes of struggle and identity loud and clear. Heather ended their set with a new poem written specifically for Babefest titled The Evolution of Babe.

Following Heather, the night began to become much louder.

Spank Williams & the Poor Choices took the stage and played a loud and fast blend of country and rock establishing a precedent for high volume for the rest of the event.

The crowd began to cheer and clap as the Fairbanks Ladies of Wrestling took the stage to actively challenge them to contests of strength. Many people in The Pub answered the call, but none could best the FLOW wrestlers. The losing challengers all admitted defeat after being beaten by the seasoned warriors.

Mary Fagan aka “Thunder Thighs,” a member of Fairbanks Ladies of Wrestling in a competition of strength with another member. Both are squatting with people from the audience. The members were also challenging others to arm and leg wrestling matches.

Following FLOW, Annie Where The Sun Don’t Shine took the stage. They opened their set by playing a cover of a song by Fairbanks band Harm, who had played at the first Babefest three years ago.

By this time, Babefest had attracted enough people to fill The Pub. Even with the large amount of people present, it still reflected the inclusive and welcoming environment of Babefest.

After Annie Where The Sun Don’t Shine’s set, the crowd that they had generated in front of the stage stayed put while the next performer, AKU-MATU, took the stage.

Allison Warden performed on stage as “AKU-MATU” as she spat intense rap bars over a hip-hop instrumental, adding to the variety of performances and music at the festival.

AKU-MATU, an Iñupiaq interdisciplinary artist, brought an intense rap performance and a fun and laid-back energy to the Babefest lineup. Her set involved numerous changes of attire as well as socially and environmentally conscious lyrics. Her songs involved frequent audience interactions that pulled the crowd’s attention beyond the stage and into each song’s subject.

After AKU-MATU’s hip-hop performance, the folk vibes of Backcuntry Bruthers graced the stage.

Their set blended an upright bass, percussion, steel guitar and trumpet and provided a very free and acoustic sound. Members of the crowd began to dance together when the music adopted a distinct swing feel.

The last band of the night was Broad Squad, from Anchorage, a hip three-piece band whose set tied up the evening of performances.

Those attending enjoyed the positive and inclusive environment that Babefest promoted. Kengo Nagaoka, visiting home from school in Denver, was thrilled by the event.

“It’s pretty tight, I like the vibe,” he said. “I’m back in my hometown and wanted to catch a real Fairbanks show. I’m glad there’s an event that supports planned parenthood and women musicians.”

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