Calling all queers! D.C.’s 9th annual Phazefest is back in September for another weekend-long celebration of sweet LGBTQ music and this year it’s bigger than ever. Though the two nights of shows were originally supposed to take place at Comet Ping Pong and Black Cat, the demand for space was too damn high and they will now be taking place at the Black Cat and 9:30 Club for the first time. The shows start Friday with Kiyomi Valentine (of The Real L-Word fame), Frankie & Betty, DC Kings and Marcus Webb, then continue on Saturday with Sick of Sarah, Michelle Raymond, B. Steady, DC Gurly Show and Company Calls, followed up by FANNYPACK!, a queer dance party with DJ Deedub.
I talked to Angela Lombardi, one of the co-founders of Phazefest, about why this year is going to be the best one yet.
Brightest Young Things: Can you explain your role in Phazefest?
Angela Lombardi: I’m one of the original founders and I’ve kind of been the only person who’s been a part of it for all three years. It’s pretty much my baby. I’ve seen it change. We’ve kept the same concept throughout, which is really just putting queer music out there in people’s faces. It’s kind of my thing at this point.
BYT: Why does D.C. need Phazefest?
AL: I think that really every city/town should be representing and looking out for a queer audience. It’s not necessarily that queer artists are underrepresented, but the fact that we’re having a bunch of queer and trans musicians come through and play bigger venues like the Black Cat and 9:30 Club is a pretty big deal.
BYT: What can someone who’s new to D.C.’s queer community expect from the weekend?
AL: This year we actually have a bunch of local musicians. Pretty much the only people we’re bringing from out of town are Kiyomi, who was on The Real L Word and in Hunter Valentine and then Sick of Sarah. It’s basically just two nights dedicated to queer music followed by super sweet dance parties. We kept the ticket costs low to try to make it a really attainable, plus this year we’re able to offer all ages on Friday and 18 and over on Saturday. So we really want this to be a big party where we get a bunch of bands together and have a good time.
BYT: How will this Phazefest be different than past ones?
New venue. Also, this is the first year we were able to make it only 15 dollars. This year we don’t have the craft fair aspect of it. In past years we had some people set up tables but this year we didn’t go that route. We focused more on the music and the dance party. I figured that that was what I saw people wanted the most. That’s where we really thrived. I think it’s just absolutely incredible.
BYT: Why do you think queer women make such good music?
AL: I guess we just have a lot of feelings [laughs]. But it’s so much more than that. Music can be so powerful, and what better way to represent yourself than through music?
BYT: What act are you most excited to see this year?
AL: I’m always excited to have Sick of Sarah back, but I haven’t seen B. Steady since she performed as… I believe they were called The Lost Bois and that was like six years ago. Actually I don’t know if that’s correct. But she hasn’t been around in like six years. So having a chance to see her perform her music is pretty radical. That’s who I’m most excited to see mainly because I haven’t seen her perform live, personally, in a long time.
BYT: Is there anything else that you’d like to add in the preview for the show?
AL: Nope, just that I’m super excited. This is a big weekend. A huge weekend for Phazefest. We’ve never been able to have it at this capacity. Black Cat and 9:30 Club are two of the best venues in the city as far as I’m concerned. And they’re both giving us that space. So all I can say is come out and have a rockin’ good time.
BYT: One more question…. favorite character on The L Word?
AL: Alice. For sure.
GUIDE TO THE ACTS
Kiyomi Valentine– Lead singer of the band Hunter Valentine. Despite being a former reality star, Valentine actually kind of well…rocks. She’s got powerful angry guitars at the forefront matched with her Melissa Etheridge-esque gruff vocals and it’s the stuff that you and your queer friends want to dance to– or at the very least throw yourself at the stage to.
Frankie & Betty– Acoustic duo that manages to make their songs quirky and self-deprecatingly funny without compromising romanticism. Have been seen covering “Hey Ya”.
Marcus Webb- Ambient sometimes-synthy sometimes-folky wordless composer.
DC Kings- Drag king/burlesque/comedy group.
Sick of Sarah- Your 16-year-old self probably listened to them and thought “nobody gets me like you, Sick of Sarah.” But still, there’s a reason they’re repeat performers at Phazefest–it’s bound to be a high energy, anger-tinged performance. And as Angela said, “we have a lot of feelings.”
Michelle Raymond- As close to country as Phazefest will get without being explicitly country. Stevie Nicks-ish. Her band played at Pride this year.
B. Steady- AKA Be Steadwell. Soulful queerpop with lyrics about lady love that’s still accessible to the masses. Does her own beatboxing.
DC Gurly Show- Saturday’s queer burlesque group.
Company Calls – Sandpaper Sleater Kinney with similar time signatures/guitar patterns.