Above: Hate Club play Babe Fest 2017. Photo by Ariel Einbinder
For the second annual Babe Fest, an intersectional feminist celebration, organizer Audrey Goodemote went back to the drawing board to turn an average Albany basement show into a landmark event.
It just took some finessing.
The guitarist and vocalist of Albany indie rock band Hate Club has a lot on her plate this year. Goodemote graduated from St. Rose with a political science degree in the winter and after barely taking a breather, set off on a SXSW tour with her band and The Death Vacation in March. Planning a bigger and better Babe Fest had to happen in between.
“Last year was kind of just an idea. It was a basement show. This year, I’d like to showcase the artists in a more cohesive way and it’s exciting, I’ve had a lot of interest from artists,” Goodemote said.
Babe Fest will even have a beneficiary this year, donating all proceeds to In Our Own Voices, the local non-profit addressing the needs of the LGBT community of color.
“Just benefitting a real organization, a charity, makes it more official in my eyes so I want it to be really good, It’s more pressure in theory but it’s really fun to plan,” she said. “My goal was to get more people involved so it wasn’t this sole ego trip of one person saying, ‘I’ve done this wonderful thing.’”
Part of the fun has been in absorbing just how much interest there is in playing and attending a show that promotes a more inclusive music community.
It’s been fairly collaborative, Goodemote said, performers and artists from the 2017 show have been reaching out and recommending friends for the past few months. She also got some planning and booking help from local activist and organizer Dave Gunn, whom she met at the J20 Benefit Show at the Albany Free School earlier this year.
Gunn was able to shop around for a venue and some acts while Goodemote was on the road with Hate Club, a feat not to be taken lightly.
Bringing Babe Fest up and out of the basement meant finding a nearby, all ages, wheelchair accessible, cheap (or free) space that could accommodate a musical lineup and tabling display. After some digging and cold calling, they landed at the Albany Social Justice Center.
The search reminded Goodemote how vital those spaces are, and how much they are needed in the area.
“I think there’s a difference in attending a show that’s at The Low Beat or a basement and a show in an all ages space. I think it will feel a little more safe,” she said. “Getting younger people involved just seems like it fits better, for this kind of event. A lot of churches have those spaces and are open to these kinds of things which is cool, I just think we have to pursue it further.”
Usually benefit events like Babe Fest are done at The Low Beat and Paulys Hotel, where acts and pop-up artists can be spread out and accommodated for between the two bars. In the past The Low Beat has even donated 100 percent of their proceeds towards a hosted benefit. Inevitably, however, the events leave out those who are younger than 21, which can be a problem for drawing the DIY audience and performers.
“Logistically, especially if you want more involvement, you don’t want to put that on the bars, ‘Can you please let this underage person in? They’re playing the show,’” Goodemote explained. “It’s nice to not have to worry about that. Especially with art and tabling too. Bars have a purpose and it’s not necessarily to showcase things. A lot of times, it’s a bar first and a venue second.”
The Social Justice Center, which is also a partner with In Our Own Voices, turned out to be an ideal pick in promoting participation in community outreach as well.
“Shows are fun and it can be about going out and listening to music but there can be more to it than that,” Goodemote said. “I think a lot of people who play music in this particular community have views that are aligned with a lot of different local organizations. I think there’s interest but people just don’t know how to go about pursuing their ideological beliefs.”
On June 30, Babe Fest attendees can learn more about getting involved in local social justice movements, catch some music and visit with the Albany All Stars roller derby team and Lady Vegan Network across the street in Townsend Park between sets.
The venue has given Babe Fest the room to grow. Just as the lineup of artists and creatives has exploded for this year’s event, the lineup has more than doubled and will include a stand-up comedy set from Dre Cerbin.
Musical acts will include pop, folk-punk and indie acts including out-of-towners like Philly’s Unwelcomed, Brooklyn’s Bye and Immune Friction out of Bennington, Vt. Local acts include Hate Club, NPK, Sorrow Estate, Nursing Home Hallways and Voracious Heart.
“I want to keep some sort of local tie because it is a benefit show and I can’t really give anyone money for touring. I don’t want people to have to travel too far, but they’re interested for the cause, which is really cool,” Goodemote said.
“It’s cool to show people where this community can be.”
Poster art by No Fun Rose. Babe Fest 2, Saturday, June 30 at noon, Albany Social Justice Center
Editor’s note: The description of this event has been changed from “a celebration of local female, femme and non-binary artists and musicians” to be more inclusive of those participating in the event.