Music News & Reviews

What’s with all the Fuss? Music festival puts focus on womxn, femmes and POC

The Philly band Sheer Mag is one of more than a dozen playing the Fuss Fest, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 in Fresno, CA.
The Philly band Sheer Mag is one of more than a dozen playing the Fuss Fest, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 in Fresno, CA. Sheer Mag

Fuss Fest isn’t about making a statement, exactly, though there is a statement built into the two-day woman-centric music festival, which kicks off its fifth year Friday at Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company.

It continues Saturday night at Strummer’s.

“We have all this wonderful talent coming out of the Valley from Womxn, femmes, lgbt, queer and trans folks,” the festival’s creator/director Priscilla Van Rye says in an email interview. “We want young womxn and lgbt youth to come to Fuss Fest and feel hopeful and find comfort in seeing talented people that they can look up to,” she says.

What was the genesis for starting the festival five years ago?

We started Fuss Fest as a way for us to find comfort and safety among like-minded people and friends. At the time there were a lot of fests taking place in Fresno where the majority of bands and artists were males. Dynamite vinyl (RIP) gave us the support and space we needed to create a free, self-expressive music and arts festival that was completely inclusive to everybody.

As Fuss Fest gets bigger we have more opportunities to bring even larger acts to Fresno and raise awareness of the much overlooked femme talent in Fresno’s music scene.

Tell us about this year’s lineup.

Every year our lineup gets better and better and this year’s is going to be hard for us to beat. There’s so much variety on both days. We have lots of out of town talent from the Bay and L.A., local talent and Sheer Mag out of Philly.

So, there is a free event and a ticketed event?

Friday is taking place at Tioga Sequoia Brewing Co. from 5 to 11 p.m. It’s free and there’s an awesome lineup of eight bands, plus amazing vendors like our friend’s at Laguna Collective, who will have their self-published zines; Forever Never Ends Records, which is a really cool independent label; and lots of great crafters and artists.

The second day of the fest is Saturday at Strummer’s in the Tower District. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door, with some of the proceeds benefiting our Girl’s Rock Camp. It’ starts at 8 p.m. and is all ages. There won’t be any vendors, but the bill is amazing, with Suzie True and Oscura Luna, who we are all huge fans of and really excited for Fresno to see.

It feels like there are more woman in the Central Valley music scene now than ever, and they are getting more attention than ever. Who should people be looking out for?

There is so much amazing femme energy radiating through our music and art scene right now. Ome Lopez is one of the best DJs in the scene. She’s also the head of Royal Jelly, which helps teach womxn of all ages how to DJ. It’s a really rad thing that we’re very fortunate to have in Fresno. Emelia Guaderama of Sci-Fi Caper is am outstanding bass player/front person and songwriter. Ronnie Taylor is so incredibly muli-talented. She’s the drummer for The Eros/Santa Mira and she DJs and she’s an incredible rapper who performed at last year’s Fuss Fest as Kooleidoscope.

What out of towners are you excited to have on the bill?

Sheer Mag, of course was an incredible get that came to us by way of Numbskull shows. Miserable, from Oakland, is Kris Esfandiari of King Woman’s side project. Blushh has played a show put on by Love the Captive here in town. They are really great. One that I’ve had on repeat for a few months now is The Heartlights, who are signed to Burger Records, from the Bay Area. They are on the first day’s lineup.

Was it easy to get buy-in on the festival from the touring bands?

Yes. We were lucky to have found so many enthusiastic out of towners, who were down to play our fest and come to Fresno. Some are not even on tour and are just doing a one-off show for us.

Tell us about the Girls Rock Camp.

A few other cities have been doing a similar thing for year’s now. We’ve been talking about putting this together and how cool it would be to show the youth that you can be a womxn, queer, LGBT, etc. in music and you can do that here in the Central Valley. We want to give the opportunity to young people to learn how to play an instrument, how to design and make your own band merch, how to print your own tees and make zines. We will have different workshops and band performances during the week-long day camp next summer. The camp is ran by volunteers that are musicians, artists and womxn of color business owners. There’s a small fee to attend, but hopefully we’ll able to raise enough funds to be able to offer scholarships to those who can’t take on a financial burden. We’ll definitely be posting more info and details soon via our Facebook, Instagram and soon-to-be website.

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

Fuss Fest

Day 1: 5 p.m., Friday

  • Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company, 745 Fulton St.
  • Free, all ages

Day 2: 8 p.m., Saturday

  • Strummer’s, 833 E. Fern Ave.
  • $20, all ages

Meanwhile ...

Six other noteworthy events happening this week:

  • William Saroyan House grand opening ceremony 6:30 p.m. Friday. Satellite Student Union at Fresno State. Free with registration required.
  • E40 7 p.m. Saturday. Warnors Theatre, 1400, Fulton St. $25-$100. 559-264-2848,
  • Protoje 8 p.m. Saturday, Tower Theatrem 815 E. Olive Ave., $31.50-$46.50. 559-485-9050,
  • Rockin Brews and BBQ Fest 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Chukchansi, 711 Lucky Lane, Coarsegold. $10. 866-794-6946,
  • Pepe Aguilar Y Familia 7 p.m. Sunday. Save Mart Center. $60.50-$160.50. 800-745-3000,
  • Madera Fair 5 p.m. Sept. 6. Madera Fairgrounds, 1850 W Cleveland Ave., Madera. $8, through Sept. 5. 559-674-8511,