KOXY’s fourth event of the 2015–16 school year on Feb. 27 will feature performances by Seattle-based band La Luz and Burger Records’ Death Valley Girls. By specifically showcasing the talents of women, this event, which will take place at Mullen Grove, will advance KOXY’s effort to book artists from different backgrounds, experiences and genres.
Last semester, KOXY held three shows –– the first a performance by Stones Throw producer MNDSGN and Open Mike Eagle of Hellfyre Club. According to Events Manager Madison Rudd (junior), students most commonly voice interest in appearances from hip-hop artists, rappers and producers. These shows usually attract the largest turnouts, exemplified by the station’s packed performance from Mykki Blanco last spring.
The second show of the fall semester was held at Eagle Rock’s All Star Lanes. Two of the performing acts, Benjamin Franklin and his Naughty Interest in Electricity and NRH, included Occidental students and recent graduates, respectively. The third performance was centered around the Cumbia genre, with a headlining performance from Viento Callejero and catering from Porto’s.
KOXY’s events staff plans to host another three events this spring, all thematically independent from one another. Between both of the bands performing Feb. 27, seven of the eight musicians are women. The exception is Death Valley Girls’ guitarist, Larry Schemel. Schemel is the brother and collaborator of Patty Schemel, former drummer of seminal ‘90s punk band Hole and current member of Upset.
Formed in 2012, La Luz is composed of Shana Cleveland (guitar), Marian Li Pino (drums), Alice Sandahl (keyboard) and Lina Simon (bass; all members contribute vocals). The band released its debut album “It’s Alive” in 2013 after signing to Sub-Pop affiliate Hardly Art. 2015’s “Weirdo Shrine” — fittingly recorded in a defunct surfboard factory — combines foreboding lyrics with surf-rock riffs that recall The Ventures (of “Hawaii Five-0” theme song fame).
“It’s just something different, basically, than what people are used to within rock genres specifically,” Rudd said.
La Luz’s distinct sound and recent relocation from Seattle to Los Angeles made them an ideal booking choice for KOXY. Their performance will follow that of Death Valley Girls, comprised of Bonnie Bloomgarden (lead vocals), Laura Kelsey (drums), Jessie Jones (bass) and Schemel. The garage-rock group has appeared on various local stages, from The Smell in Downtown LA to the Natural History Museum, and is set to travel to Austin for South by Southwest in March.
KOXY’s Feb. 27 show will not be the first time these bands have played together in LA; they performed alongside Wand at The Echo in October 2014. Both groups will also appear at the Burger x Observatory 5-year anniversary festival in Fullerton March 7–13.
The concept of an all-female show is not foreign to La Luz. Its label represents a number of other female-fronted artists including Chastity Belt, Tacocat, Colleen Green and La Sera. Cleveland recognizes that female musicians are best represented when bookers consider the artists’ sounds in addition to their genders when organizing shows.
“I think promoters have a tendency to group female bands together, which can sometimes feel shortsighted if the musical styles don’t make sense together,” Cleveland said via email. “That said, we’d all like to see more representation of women in music and I think that’s happening more and more. We like playing with bands that are really good, and if there are other ladies involved that’s a bonus.”
Death Valley Girls is set to take the stage at 9:30 p.m., with La Luz performing at 11 p.m. KOXY will provide empanadas from Porto’s Bakery, sell newly designed T-shirts and offer free KOXY stickers, temporary tattoos and bottle openers. The event is free for students and the first 100 non-Occidental students who filled out the RSVP form online; that cap was met less than a week after the show was announced on social media. KOXY Events Assistant Myka Kielbon (sophomore) hopes this outside attendance will help to bridge a gap between the station and artistic activity developing off-campus.
“KOXY is so small, and Occidental is so small,” Kielbon said. “I think as a student service, we have to serve more as a link to the outside community.”
In light of these conversations, the KOXY staff continues to focus on providing students with creative opportunities and outlets. As the organization attempts to garner diverse programming inside and outside of the DJ booth, Rudd emphasizes the importance of student feedback to broaden attendance and satisfy all corners of the campus.
“We’re a student service,” Rudd said. “It’s about bringing things that students want to campus, so if they’re interested in something, I want to hear that.”