When I feel angry about the world’s patriarchal shit-spiral of oppression, sometimes I can’t summon the energy to deal. I default to tired accommodation, leaving no wake in the water so I can just go home. What eats away at me is getting home and realizing that the world will continue to be disastrous in its treatment of women, femme folk, marginalized people, people of color, and the Earth. I feel stationary, psychically beat, and marinated in bad feelings.
Don’t stay home when hardcore punk can save you.
Last Wednesday I went to Seattle DIY venue Black Lodge to see the rapidly rising stars of G.L.O.S.S., a punk outfit from Olympia that released a flawless, widely raved-about-five track demo at the onset of 2015. G.L.O.S.S. (“Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit”) gives out good anger like a gift you’ve waited forever to get.
As trans, queer, femme musicians, the politics of G.L.O.S.S. is not so much the music’s focus, but rather the catalyst that makes the band’s music genuinely raw, believable, and necessary. What you feel from being in the same room as them is linked to the elements that make them who they are—but even more so, their eruptive, eyes-in-the-back-of-your-head shredding makes you feel like it matters who you are too, regardless if you relate to the band or not.
For a band so relatively young in its existence (they started playing together in September of 2014), G.L.O.S.S.’s Demo EP and live set feel fully actualized and expertly executed, due in part to a history of musicianship in previous and current projects such as Vexx, Slouch, Parasol, and more. Its five members—Corey Evans, Jake Bison, Tannrr Hainsworth, Julaya Antolin, and Sadie Smith—rip through their set onstage with a tightly synced yet frenetic energy. Asked what feels best about playing together, there’s a pause, a sly comment (“When we touch each other”) followed by laughter, then an earnest answer from Evans: “It feels both safe and tough. It feels like everybody’s got each other’s back in such a real way.” Their uncompromising attitude of self-acceptance extends beyond respect for each other and their audience to the practice of music creation as well. On being courted by major record labels who want to turn a profit off their “liberal, progressive message,” Smith says, “It’s easy to get caught up and feel as though, oh, this person is validating me and telling me they have these other ideas about me, but if you step back from it and see what they’re trying to do, you realize you’re already doing it for yourself. We already are something, to ourselves and to other people.”
What comes through every song on G.L.O.S.S.’s EP is unparalleled emotion and a no-bullshit celebration of loving your true self in an often dark world that wants to shut you down. Aside from guitar riffs that feel like window-whipped cloth from a car doing 80 on the freeway and freak D-beats fast enough to match, G.L.O.S.S.’s lyrics add a dimension of truth that sets them apart from other thrash and hardcore. As is usual with hardcore punk, the songs are economical in duration, but they do more in 1:54 (at most) than most bands accomplish in 10 minutes. The combination of technical prowess and lyrical sincerity transmits face-melting feeling from the band to the listener within seconds. “Targets of Men” burns with the lyrics “You follow me around/Catcall from behind/See my face and cut me down/‘Tranny’/‘Shemale’/ ‘Faggot’/‘Whore’/But I’m a flawless bitch and you’re a fucking bore.”
When G.L.O.S.S. takes the stage at the end of the night, lead vocalist Sadie lays into the mic with the spine-tingling opening line of “G.L.O.S.S. (We’re From the Future)”: “They told us we were girls/How we talk, dress, look, and cry/They told us we were girls/So we claimed our female lives/Now they tell us we aren’t girls/Our femininity doesn’t fit/We’re fucking FUTURE GIRLS, Living Outside Society’s Shit!”
In the heavy seconds after the rallying cry, everyone in the crowd seemed to sway in the same cloud of guitar feedback, waiting for the song to split open. It was like we were reaching out for the same electrical socket together.