Pandora Fest: An Inspiration To Other Girls

Greyscale. A view of the stage at Pandora Fest. A large tent obscures part of the stage.Well, Pandora Fest needs to happen again next year. The eclectic festival, which aims to celebrate women-led music, took place last month at Duncarron Medieval Village near Stirling. Although the amount of festival attendees was small, the line-up was impressively varied and the whole event had a cozy, friendly vibe.

Many of the artists were passionate about the politics behind the event. Vodun front-woman Chantal Brown explained: “It’s needed, it’s necessary. Until things are equal, either take a seat or support it.”

The London-based three-piece have just released their first album Possession and their live set demonstrated the power of their heavy rock, afro-centric sound. “It’s a celebration of the religion of voodoo, the people who practice it and its history,” says Chantal. “The last few weeks have been really, politically, horrible – with people feeling disconnected and turning against each other. We’re trying to take it back. Saying that we’re of this planet, we’re of this world, of the same blood. Trying to get out of consumerism and shopping and have a more real experience.”

Chantal Brown, a black woman with long wavy hair, singing passionately into a floor mic onstage. There is a drumkit behind her. To her left, beside some amp, is another person playing a bass guitar.

For all the theatrics of some of the bands, what was clear throughout the festival was how important this idea of connection was, of breaking through and having a real experience. The size of the event meant that musicians and attendees merged together, so in a way the dancing audience was also a message of solidarity – and a validation – for the act on stage.

A middle-aged white woman playing a bass guitar onstage. Behind her is a large amp and to her right is a white woman playing a keyboard.
Lorna Thomas (bassist of Caroline Gilmour)

For example, the bassist of Caroline Gilmour – a rock star of a woman with short greying hair and a leather jacket – seemed entirely in her element; like there was nowhere she’d rather be than playing bass guitar in a field in Scotland to her slightly wet and bedraggled peers. It was increasingly inspiring.

A white woman playing an electric guitar and singing into a floor mic. Behind her is a large amp, and someone playing drums. Infront of this person and to the left is a man wearing a beanie playing an electric guitar, standing in front of a large amp.
Kath and the Kicks
Greyscale. A white woman and two white men standing next to each other in front of trees. They are looking at the camera, smiling, and holding beer.
Kath and The Kicks

The role-model element of being a woman in music was raised by Kath Edmonds, of Leeds-based band Kath and The Kicks. She said: “I always wanted to be a rock star. I was a female drummer, so I hope I have been an inspiration to other girls. I couldn’t always sing properly, but I just forced myself to do it. It’s about confidence and having a good group of people around you.”

Well Pandora Fest was definitely full of people supporting each other and the idea of women-led music. Let’s hope that it returns next summer.

Words and Images: Ana Hine


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