Red 7 (611 E 7th St)
Artists: Grass Widow
About: The name Grass Widow is a coupling of words, which when combined, provide a basis for multiple meanings. Bassist/vocalist, Hannah Lew, drummer/vocalist, Lillian Maring and guitarist/vocalist, Raven Mahon chose the name for their San Francisco-based three-piece as a way to represent the approach they take to writing music. The phrase is rooted in 17th century literature; commonly referring to a woman whose husband is away at sea, but the visual associations of each word also provides an opportunity to interpret meaning on multiple levels. "For me," says Maring, "it's about a state of solitude when you realize parts of you may be missing." Lew adds: "The name Grass Widow refers to elements of the unknown or the subconscious, things not in plain sight." Grass Widow approaches lyrical content in much the same way, using metaphor to express complicated, intimate themes. Inspired by the personal, they use myth and allegory to synthesize ideas and create new landscapes wherein listeners can draw their own meaning. “We write lyrics about very personal and often dark subjects, but present the ideas in a way that disguises the content within metaphor and upbeat instrumentation,” says Mahon. “Although we chose the name early on, it has evolved with us as our process has become refined.” Grass Widow formed in 2007 and quickly received attention within the Bay Area as well as national underground press via publications like Yeti. Influenced by similarly all-female punk and post-punk acts like The Neo Boys and Kleenex, they also note Roy Wood's The Move and The Kinks as a major source of inspiration, which can be heard in their three-part harmonies, complex arrangements and odd chord progressions. In addition to these musical influences, Grass Widow is influenced by a legacy of women who have paved the way through their music and politics. Their collaborative songwriting process, the fact that they don't have a front person and that they all equally contribute to the work of the band speaks to this philosophy. In addition, they take the opportunity as an all female band to bring attention to the roles of spectacle and spectator in their scene and make a conscious effort to play shows where women are involved. “Women on stage or on the Internet play a similar role to women in films, looked at but not returning the gaze,” says Lew. “Women have been excluded from the audience. I want to think that we are challenging this pattern by representing ourselves in a way that makes a lot of space for women in the audience.” In a statement from the band: “We want to thrive in our scene as musicians, with a focus on our musicianship first, not our gender. Our goal is to normalize the role of gender in our craft and have an avenue to express our intelligence and our love of music. We acknowledge that movements of the past created by or affecting women in the art and music worlds are hugely influential, but there is potential for the original sentiments to lose potency if the meaning is misinterpreted or not redesigned for a modern context. Even the riot grrl movement is kind of antiquated. You never really hear people talk about that 'new riot grrl' band. We owe a great deal to that lineage but it's time for something new. We want to be portrayed as the responsible, thoughtful people that we are.” In 2009, Grass Widow released their first S/T LP on local indie imprint Make-A-Mess Records as well as a 12" EP on Brooklyn label Captured Tracks. On August 24, 2010 Grass Widow released their latest full-length on Kill Rock Stars entitled Past Time.