Toronto
3 min

Dildo slicing doesn’t bother me

Tribe 8's antics create a panic

Credit: Xtra files

As we speak I am up to my nipples in lentil stew, making dinner for bands like Le Tigre and The Butchies at the 26th annual Michigan’s Women’s Music festival (which runs until Sun, Aug 12). I decided to take a vacation from the sketchy lesbo politics in Toronto to observe the sketchier lesbo politics at large.



Why? Because I love music. “Music makes the people come together….” (Um, what the fuck is that supposed to mean, Madonna? I mean, “Lucky Star,” that’s one thing. But it’s been 18 years since – time to get another lyric writer.)



No really, I’m going for the same reason anyone goes to a women’s music festival: the sex. Well, the sex, and the fashion.



Let me first de-bunk several myths about this festival. On the one hand, it’s an entirely problematic gathering, rooted in old-school feminist identity politics. (Though a lot of us who go are working on changing the fucked up transphobia that happens on “the land,” since the fest only allows “womyn born womyn.)



On the other hand, it’s like last call at a dyke bar for four weeks. Desperately slutty chicks tying each other to trees. That, combined with good bands – what’s not to like?



At the urging of my first girlfriend, I volunteered to work at the festival six years ago. We did what most couples do at Michigan: break up. It was there I met the girlfriend of the next five years, who was, at the time, an undernourished green haired vegan who hooked up with me because I was equally bewildered. We decided to marry in the Team Dresch mosh pit after she prevented my head injury post-stage dive into the muddy pit of shirtless chicks.



This year I’m braving lyme disease and mononucleosis, gathering up my newest girly-boyfriend and working on a month-long crew in the worker’s kitchen. I packed up the newest addition to my Parkdale family: my roommate’s black car with skulls and crossbones on both hoods. (It screams, “Search us at Customs! Please!”) We’ve made road trip mixed tapes sans male vocals and are prepared to be thrown around in the woods by many, many ladies.



And you, lovely Toronto ladies, had the pleasure of soaking in the fresh squeezed goodness of Tribe 8 at Lee’s Palace last week. The one thing that will be missing from this year’s festival is the dildo-slicing, high art antics of our favourite San Fran dyke band, who instead of headlining Michigan – as they’ve done the past five years – are touring Eastern Canada. Puzzling? Maybe. But who cares? The ladies out east need some rock action even more than constantly entertained Americans. I say, head out to Belleville and give some lonely dykes a chance to rock with the tough girls.



If you weren’t at the Lee’s Palace show, I hope you were dead at the time. There really is no other excuse. Last year’s show blew me away. I hadn’t experienced such a high energy and good ole rocking set in a long time. It was a special moment, considering bass player Tantrum is Toronto born and bred; she’s often seen ’round town these days.



Do you recall their cover of “Radar Love”? Classic! Though largely ignored (or misunderstood) by the local media, it was the dyke event of 2000. Just because I say so. Other highlights of that gig included local handsome boy Tadpole winning the cocksucking contest against random straight boy pulled from the crowd. Opening band Messy gave amazing local lezzie band action, and the crowd was absolutely nuts.



Out of all the bands to come out of the West Coast queercore scene, Tribe 8 has definitely made the biggest mark. They changed the Michigan festival just seven years ago, when rampant fear of punk rock and all of its “violence” created a panic amongst wimminy folks. Songs like “Manipulate” (“I just want to manipulate my girlfriend/I just want to play games with her head/I want her to do some mental push-ups/I like her because she’s good in bed”) angered many festival attendees. They claimed Tribe 8’s music supported violence against women. Picket signs and angry fists – the whole bit.



But the show went on and at last year’s festival, the Tribe 8 performance seemed as traditional as the coveted Saturday night Ferron concert. (And I did cry during “Ain’t Life A Brook” and I don’t care if you make fun of me for it.) Anyone who didn’t want to see their singer, Lynne Breedlove, cut off her dildo during “Gang Castrate” packed up their lawn chairs and went home without any attitude.



Of course, most stayed to swoon, leaving the show feeling a little lightheaded and in love.



I’m only sorry I’ll be too busy in the woods to have stayed in Toronto to follow her around after she finished at Lee’s Palace.