There are a ton of music festivals happening every year now, which doesn’t make it easy to choose which one to spend your money on, and even if you think you know, sometimes enjoyment is not guaranteed. As a gal who’s been around that block in LA (meaning I’ve thrown up enough times at Coachella to ever return), I’m excited to co-sign music festivals that includes the decently-priced Yola Dia festival. For $68 dollars, you can see female-identified classic acts performing alongside female-identified performers who rep the future of music. The lineup included Cupcakke, Kelsey Lu, Megan Thee Stallion, Cat Power, Lykke Li, Lia Ices, Empress Of, Sophie, Courtney Love, with a special appearance by the feminist activist Dolores Huerta. All the employees there were identified as female too. It was really, really cool.
Yola Dia happened at LA Historic Park, and the whole day was executed with a generally tasteful vibe. After checking out the food on display from Bling Bling, a yummy dumpling place, and Lil Deb’s Oasis, selling delicious-looking patatas bravas, I caught up with Naakita Feldman-Kiss, the representative in attendance from Plus1, an international organization worth knowing about for LA locals and beyond. She explained their work to me, over an appealing Mezcal drink.
“I work for PLUS1, a non-profit that works largely in live events. We’re a dollar-a-ticket add-on, as well as philanthropic advisors,” she said, after stepping out of the VIP section. “We align our artists and festivals with organizations that get as close to the work as possible, and whenever possible, we reinvest back into the community. We worked with Lykke and Gina from YOLA to identify cause areas that they care most about and advised on orgs that are affecting the most impact. We see the dollars as only a part of the equation, but helping fans get involved with social change and realizing their part in the work is what makes it really worth it. Today $1 from every ticket sold for Yola Dia is going to support local homeless and formerly homeless women in LA through the Downtown Women’s Center. They’re also on-site doing a pop-up shop to raise more funds. We brought in HeadCount as well to do voter registration, and then we also did a specialty merch item with all the proceeds going to a good cause.”
“How big are you guys?” I asked.
“We’ve existed both in Canada and the United States, since 2014. We have over 125 bands that we work with regularly as well as festivals, we do Camp Flog Gnaw every year. We have a couple of satellite offices. Our COO is in Chicago and our Director of Partnerships is based in LA, then another office in Montreal. We were founded by Marika Anthony-Shaw, formerly of Arcade Fire. The band started doing dollar-a-ticket add-ons for initiatives in Haiti, and then Marika eventually left to start PLUS1. It’s still pretty fresh. I do a lot of research into tour routing and local needs. I come from an arts administration background, so it seemed like a natural movement into it. I’m most excited to see Courtney Love tonight. That little grunge kid in me is ready for it.”
I was most excited for Empress Of, the singer/writer/musician behind ‘Woman Is A Word,” a song that if you don’t know, check out immediately, as it basically epitomizes the festival. She opened her show explaining that her mother had made her and her bandmates dresses and was in the audience, so could someone please offer her some mezcal?
I bought an Empress Of shirt at the merch station, and prepared to see Megan Thee Stallion, the rapper-dancer-social-media-phenom behind the term “hot girl summer”. This was important. I feel as though I learned how to twerk just by being in the presence of that woman, but that was of course, not true.
Kelsey Lu was sick. She’s a talented musician who wore the most awesome glittery outfit and poured potato chips all over herself at a certain point, exclaiming her love for potato chips. I loved her song about moving to California.
Cupcakke showed up late because her flight had been delayed. She talked about how her vagina never smelled like sardines, and for that she was the queen of this new music festival scene
And then there was Courtney Love. “Look at all the pretty girls!” She yelled, in appropriate rocker-like fashion.
There were a whole lot of pretty girls there. She was right. Even better than that, there was a whole lot of fun, supportive, and well-dressed girls there. Nothing can beat that, in a day-long show. I lost myself dancing alone, because I didn’t have to worry about fingers getting stuck up my body, which happens in regular moshing.
My sister once told me she doesn’t like concerts because she never knows what to do with herself at them. I had always wondered if this was because of the pressure that male-driven festivals bring about. I wondered if she would have liked this one. Maybe next year, we’ll be there together.
Review by Tulip Texas.
All Photos by Boston Lynn Schulz