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FEA, The Aquadolls, two of three all-woman bands performing at Riot Fest, talk lacking representation in punk rock scene


Hosting more than 90 bands across five stages, the annual three-day punk rock festival takes place on Chicago’s West Side, in Douglass Park, located at 1401 S. Sacramento Drive.

Forming fresh out of high school, the Los Angeles rock band The Aquadolls consist of members Melissa Brooks on vocals and guitar, bassist Keilah Nina and Jackie Proctor on drums.

Drawing inspiration from ’90s rock bands like The Breeders and Veruca Salt, the self-proclaimed “mermaid rock and roll” group delivered an energetic performance as one of the three first acts of the day.

“Sparkle, glitter, a little bit of dirt because we’re dirty, punk rock sparkles of the ocean,” Brooks said, about how the group got their name.

While the punk rock music scene does not lack female bands, the repeating theme both bands picked up on lies in the receiving and representation of these groups when being booked, promoted and advertised.

“We are definitely lucky to be able to be here and represent, but there are so many femme-led bands that are out there, book them,” Brooks said.

FEA, riot grrrl inspired Latina punk band from San Antonio, consists of vocalist Letty Martinez, bassist Jenn Alva, Phanie Diaz on drums and Adrian Conner on guitar. Fighting labels, the Latina and queer present band puts emphasis on not only being referred to as a “girl band.”

“In the Latina [music] community, there was a lot I didn’t relate to all the way,” Diaz said. “We’re representing a genre that didn’t get exposed during the riot grrrl movement,” Alva added.

Themes including queer identity, mental health and women liberation are all prevalent in FEA’s music, who formed when they were in their mid 30s. The band preaches that starting up your pursuit of art can begin at any age with a good support system and chemistry within the band.

“Write about what you know, what’s in your way, what you’re overcoming,” Brooks said. “Don’t try to write based on what you think you’re supposed to write about.”

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About the Contributor
Addison Annis
Addison Annis, Photojournalist
aannis@columbiachronicle.com   Addison Annis is a junior photojournalism major, minoring in video production. She has covered politics, cultural events and Chicago protests. Annis joined the Chronicle in August 2022.   Hometown: Plymouth, Minn.