Invasion of the Rockrgrls

"Pussy power!" screeched Courtney Love at one point during the ROCKRGRL music conference, held earlier this month in Seattle. Well, I would've been classier, but I couldn't sum up the weekend of Nov. 2 to 4 any better in two words. The confab was put on by Carla DeSantis and ROCKRGRL, the magazine she edits. Like other music conferences, it was loaded with discussion panels and cocktail parties. But the switch was that all the evening band showcases were decidedly estrogen-powered and female-fronted—a sort of South By Southwest By Women (plus a few sensitive men, of which there were at least 10). Bands came to ROCKRGRL from as far away as Sweden, London, Italy, Australia and the Netherlands; OC was represented by yours truly, Corday, and Sparkle Jets U.K., while the Masticators and the Halo Friendlies waved the Long Beach flag. The first panel I hit was called "Lilith Fair: I Will Remember You," hosted by Sarah McLachlan's manager and featuring musicians who performed on the tour. In it, I learned just how successful that tour really was—and how seriously it kicked Lollapalooza's hypermasculine ass. Indigo Girl Amy Ray gave the conference's keynote address. She was clearly the most intelligent and articulate speaker of the weekend, talking about major-label conglomerates, the concentration of commercial radio and the general politics of being a woman musician. She urged us to support everything indie, from music forums to lo-fi FM-radio stations—often the only ones playing truly new, adventurous music. During a songwriting panel hosted by Heart's Ann Wilson, Jill Sobule (you know—she "Kissed a Girl") broke into a new song, "I'm Dating Kathie Lee," which had the crowd busting up. Jill was so damn funny that we had to go see her play that evening at the Crystal Ballroom, a beautiful old building with vaulted ceilings and great sound. But right before everybody broke for the clubs, Courtney made her last-minute Q&A appearance. She immediately took control of the room by lighting up a cigarette and drifting into her crude-yet-assertive trailer-trash mode. Many were apparently afraid to ask her questions, though, out of fear that she'd nail your ass to the wall—which she did, again and again, to those brave enough to speak up. But I loved her—she was smart and outspoken and gave us a famous woman's view on everything from hairdos to nose jobs to the power of sex and money to the contents of Marilyn Manson's medicine cabinet to attorneys to chain-smoking to her dates with Fred Durst. Courtney delivered the juice like a belligerent talk-show host, and I couldn't stop watching. Finally hitting the clubs, we caught the Masticators across town at a smoky, crowded room guarded by a big, pierced doorman. The Masticators were good, but it was very loud, and we just couldn't stay. So we walked two blocks to the Breakroom to see the Halo Friendlies. The Breakroom was one of my favorite clubs, with a nice stage and decent sound and lights. Some nice girl bought me a microbeer called Dick (try ordering that from a cute bartender!), which was delicious, while we waited for the Friendlies to take the stage. They describe their sound as Go-Go's-meets-Blink-182, which was pretty damn right-on—a three-chord power-pop all-girl quartet who were just so darn cute and bouncy you couldn't help but like 'em. They got many heads bobbin', including the guy next to me, who told me he'd get up and dance if he wasn't so drunk (he looked more like a Rancid fan to me). Hell, everyone seemed to like the Friendlies—even Courtney showed up and hid out backstage, eavesdropping on their last song, a "Rock & Roll All Night" cover. Invaded by ROCKRGRLS, the host hotel did indeed rock and roll all night —I visited more than one room in which the revelers were offering free beer freshly scooped from their bathtub. But mostly, the weekend was about music, sisterhood and empowerment—and about how there's no time better than now, really, to be a girl playing in a rock & roll band. (Jennifer Corday)

>>>CONSPIRACY OF SOME Tuesday, Nov. 14. A big day in Offspringland. Not only was it the release day for Conspiracy of One, their new album, but also the day the band gave away $1 million of their own money to a lucky fan who had taken the time to download the album's first single, "Original Prankster," off the official Offspring website, thereby becoming eligible for the cash giveaway. The Big Hitch, though, was that the dough was doled out live on MTV's horrible teen-pop-laden TRL show, which meant that the four finalists were forced to answer lots of lame, non-Offspring-related multiple-choice questions in order to claim the prize ("Q: Which one of these artists was not a Mickey Mouse Club member? A) Britney Spears B) Mandy Moore C) Christina Aguilera D) Justin Timberlake") and had to guess song sound clips, Name That Tune-style, of acts that no self-respecting Offspring fan—not even the teenage ones—would be caught dead listening to. Ultimately, though, the winning question was actually related to the band (yes, Noodles is indeed the oldest member of the Offspring), and a 14-year-old named Ashley wound up with all the cabbage while the ever-articulate Carson Daly giddily exclaimed, "That's so rad! That is just so awesome!" And then they quickly cut to an 'N Sync video. (Rich Kane)

>>>JUST-SO-YOU-KNOW DEPT. Whilst perusing the Nov. 15 Times OC Calendar listings, you might have wondered about the identity of the "and others" playing with the Briefs at Linda's Doll Hut that very evening. For the record, let LowBallAssChatter reveal here and now that the mysterious "others" were a band called Cocksucker Blues. This made us fondly recall the days when the paper listed the Butthole Surfers as the "B.H. Surfers" or sometimes just "the Surfers." What up here, Times? Not even a "C.S. Blues"? (RK)

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