Posted by Pete DeMola on 1. Jan 2009
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction: Feminism, With a Side of Guitars
Through their scorching brand of hard rock, positive Girl Power ideology and liberating stage presence, the IC Girl Band aims to foster a new generation of empowered rock women.
By Pete DeMola
Published: Jan 1, 2009
“There is a lot of pressure on Chinese families: parents want their daughters to have good, stable jobs,” exclaimed Yoyo, founder and vocalist of the IC Girl Band, the group of young females who have made their mark on the city’s music community via their energetic renditions of anthems from the classic rock and roll canon.
“But we want to make ourselves happy,” she said, illustrating the core mantra of the Girl Power movement: a self-reliant attitude that is manifested in ambition, assertiveness and individualism. “On stage, girls will show their real anger and feelings,” she remarked. “There aren’t too many Girl Power bands in Beijing yet.”
The band, who in their early years would use public IC phone cards to call venues and book gigs, has been an unstable presence on stages across the capital city, having undergone dozens of lineup changes and maintained a sporadic performance schedule before disappearing back into the woodwork.
Yoyo conceptualized and formed the project in 1999, spending a lot of time and effort in recruiting the right people for the job.
A decade ago, she said, the field of qualified applicants was minimal and the project went into hibernation. The quick-witted Beijinger (she recommended that this reporter visit the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery to find a more subterranean environment than this city’s independent music scene) spent some time working as a journalist and relaunched the band in 2003, when the talent pool became larger—partially in part due to the increasing amount of women who were inspired to launch their own bands by their musician boyfriends.
“If they don’t have the right skills, then they must be good looking,” she laughed.
At a December performance at the Wudaokou venue D-22, the quartet—which is rounded out by guitarist Ta Na, drummer Baby Car and bassist Jiang Mingyue donned in cleavage and tattoo-revealing outfits, snarled through a set of cover songs ranging from a trumpet-accentuated Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” to anthems by booze-rock stalwarts AC/DC.
“All of the musicians from that time are classic,” Yoyo said, referring to late-1960s and early 70s artists Led Zeppelin and The Beatles in particular. “We want to tell people that this is the real rock music.”
And the girls aren’t mere axe-slinging, chain-smoking sexpots, either: Ta Na is a recent graduate from the China Music Academy, Jiang Mingyue is a piano teacher and Baby Car is currently a student at the School of Management.
Although the independent music scene is more developed and can now demand an audience for niche projects, it can also be brutal, Yoyo said. The noted degree of acrimony that exists among certain elements in the community affects sonic collaboration. “I’m unhappy about that,” she remarked.
The insular world of Beijing’s independent music scene aside, China at large is growing more accepting of rock and roll, she said, citing the performance of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page at the Closing Games of the Opening Ceremony as a major breakthrough.
This year, the band is slated to record an EP of original songs. “We want to make the band more regular,” said Baby Cars, adding that they aim to become a regular presence on the local circuit, as well as refining their technological prowess.
IC Girl Band will open for China’s first pop metal band, The Face, on Saturday, Jan 17 at MAO Live House. See our events page for detai
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