27 Sep CT Voices For Choices Show Amplifies the Fight for Reproductive Rights
by Marisa Torrieri Bloom
I never believed it that in 2022, it would be necessary to stand up for reproductive rights in America. Yet in the waning hours of Thursday night’s ‘Connecticut Voices for Choices’ concert at The Beeracks (250 Bradley Street, East Haven, Connecticut), an event that brought together six musical acts, Planned Parenthood reps, political activists, and a roused-up audience, I’m so grateful that I did.
The event, organized by the newly minted Connecticut Voices for Choices collective — comprising me and fellow musicians Kate Mirabella and Grace Yukich — featured a diverse lineup of musicians representing multiple genres, from punk to folk to piano-driven indie rock. In addition to showcasing an array of musical styles, the event raised more than $700 for two reproductive rights/political action organizations: the National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda and Planned Parenthood Votes! Connecticut.
Grace and I kicked off the night with an acoustic rendition of her song “Hands Off,” written in the wake of the Supreme Court’s shocking decision on June 24th to overturn Roe V. Wade.
Moments later, femme punk trio Corpse Flower — a new band featuring Grace Yukich (vocals, guitar), Sarah Dunn (bass, vocals), and Kelly Kancyr (drums, vocals) — launched into their full-volume, high-powered set in a style I like to describe as “Bikini Kill with a touch of David Bowie.” It just so happened to be Corpse Flower’s second-ever show just days after their State House debut, and the brewery’s high-ceiling, beer-tank-filled warehouse space was the perfect place to showcase their chops on the cusp of sunset. My favorite tracks, so far: “Melted Mercury” with its orgasmic caterwauls, and “The Great Octopus,” which is so weirdly cool.
Singer/songwriter Vicki F. came on next, bringing an East Village anti-folk vibe to the evening with a set of songs about relatable topics like living in New York and appreciating the small moments in married life. Vicki’s attitude and delivery is total rock n’ roll and her voice, I’m convinced, could command armies. Her guitar soloing work is particularly impressive, too.
The artist Ponybird (Jennifer Dauphinais) followed with a performance that was intense, emotional, and impossible to look away from. Ponybird’s voice, even without cool effects like a harmonizer and delay, is so mesmerizing. And with effects, Ponybird creates otherworldly sounds. It’s like Lady Gaga to the third power, armed with a beautiful electric hollow-body Epiphone and a good helping of humorous banter baked in. Ponybird played a set of their classics and newer tracks, including a memorable one called “Waiver.”
Indie rock duo Passing Strange followed with a set that tugged at my heartstrings, opening with the evocative “Ivory and Blue” — my absolute favorite track from the band’s 2021 record, Afterthought, which takes me back to 1692 and the Salem witch trials (read more about the album here). The percussive interplay between Kate Mirabella — the duo’s keyboardist and vocalist, as well as one of the CT Voices for Choices cofounders — and Anthony Paolucci (drums/percussion) is so cool to watch. They’re masters of musical communication and storytelling. They also played one of my other favorites, “Karen in the Daytime,” for which I’m grateful.
Around 9 p.m., rock/punk quartet Trashing Violet revved up the room, kicking off a fiery 20-ish minute set with their summertime punk hit “Grip,” followed by a short set of mostly originals, including crowd favorite “Eggs,” new song “Glow,” and the ska duo of “Girls Play Instruments” and “Don’t Push Me Away” before ending with a high-energy cover of The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb.” Full disclosure: This is my band, and I’m the singer and rhythm guitarist. And as I stood there, reflecting on the night and its significance, I felt a mixture of emotions, but mostly pride.
Abortion services are now on the cutting block in 17 states, most of which are in the South and Midwest, where large populations of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous women live. Individuals in these states will have to travel out of state to obtain abortions.
While a show like ours is just a small act of defiance and expression of artistic unity, seeing everyone who came out to cheer us on, pick up a button at the Planned Parenthood table on the deck, and dance their hearts out gave me hope for the future. And it made me so proud that we could come together in this way, in spite of extraordinary circumstances.
Synth pop dynamo Falconeer capped off the night with a set of electronic dance music that spanned a breadth of sounds — from serotonin-infused electroclash pop to moodier, more goth beats — amid a celestial, smoke-and-neon backdrop. So many highs wove their way into the short, but much-needed, set, including a fun, nostalgic rendition of “Axel F” from the 1984 movie “Beverly Hills Cop.” No one in the audience stopped dancing except to snap photos or bask in her glory.
But the most heartwarming moment of all came during a pause in the music, when Falconeer spoke about the significance of the event. “I don’t have a uterus,” she said, “but this is about body autonomy.”
It was a touching send-off that reminded listeners and players why we showed up in the first place, and why it’s important to amplify our collective voices during these trying times.
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor of Rockmommy.