Be Bad Weekend Organizer Talks Grit and Glory in RVA's Music Scene
Rachel Sparkman has been brightening up Richmond every winter for a few years now. Gathering the best femme punk and hardcore bands, she's highlighted the diversity and richness of RVA's music scene since she started the annual gathering in January 2014. In it's fourth year, Be Bad Weekend is just as raw and rambunctious as ever.
What's the story behind the fest?
Originally it was called Bad Grrrl Revue (coined by Kasey Simcoe from Asylum) and had that name for the first three years. There weren’t as many heavy bands in Richmond with female vocals, so I thought it would be cool to have some of them play all together at one show. It was a lot of fun and felt very empowering, so I organized another one a year later. It was a one-day event until last year (2017) and so I decided to call it something else, and settled on Be Bad Weekend, keeping the “bad” theme. This year (2018) is the fifth event.
What’s your role with the fest?
I'm the event organizer, and my bands have played in the past. This year I’ve asked Julie Karr to help share in the organizing responsibilities with me, who plays in the band Bad Magic. There were some people who had to drop off this weekend so we're both actually going to play -- Bad Magic on Friday and Memory Loss on Saturday.
How did you decide on which bands to pick & why go all-female?
Although I hate the trope of “female-fronted” when it comes to band descriptions, I feel that it is important for an event like this to have female vocals as the focus. It’s important to me, but it’s also extremely powerful to watch and be a part of. One year I had the tagline of, “This is our night, these are our voices,” and I still feel how impactful this notion can be. Otherwise, it’s not strictly all-female. Finding bands to play has varied from year to year. For the first couple Bad Grrl years, there weren’t a whole lot of bands to choose from, but I definitely tried to pick heavier sounding bands, and I am also guilty of asking my personal favorite bands to play. This year, with Julie’s help, we chose a pretty diverse line-up of heavier bands, poppy sounds, solo-artists… various genres.
How does the fest embody RVAs ethos?
Richmond is becoming a hotbed for not only great music, but also for representation through diverse genres and inclusivity in our music scene. Everyone’s been putting in the work to head in this forward direction, and it’s only going to get better from here.
What are some of the bands you’re most excited to see?
Definitely Dazeases, they have played BBW in the past and they are seriously one of the best artists in Virginia right now. Otherwise I’m excited for everyone, probably Locker Room, Gumming, and Doll Baby the most.