Big Joanie at Polaris Hall 3/26/23
Written by Esme Ringelstetter on March 21, 2023
This coming Sunday on the 26th, Big Joanie will be taking the stage at Polaris Hall in Portland, Oregon as part of their “Back Home” USA tour.
Big Joanie is a UK trio made up of the wonderful: Stephanie Phillips on guitar and vocals, Estella Adeyeri on bass, and Chardine Taylor-Stone on drums. Phillips and Taylor-Stone came together in 2013 after seeing an advertisement for an event which was aimed at getting more marginalized people into making music. Before this, Phillips and Taylor-Stone had met one another at a Black feminist group, and it’s these values that initially brought the bandmates together that continue to drive so much of their music. After forming, Big Joanie very quickly knew that they were interested in making punk music. The punk scene has always been a place in which societal issues, such as disenfranchisement can be openly discussed, making it the perfect platform for the band. Yet, even in a scene that prides itself on rebellion against the status quo, it has historically overlooked women of color. The women of Big Joanie understand this, but they haven’t let it dampen them or their music. Instead, it’s driven them to be even more outspoken within their lyrics, and even outside of their music, with Phillips having created the DIY festival, Decolonise Fest which centers people of color in the punk scene.
In 2018 Big Joanie released their first album Sistahs, a DIY album where the only proper word to describe it seems to be, raw. It was this album that set the stage for the emotionality and vividness that dominates both the band’s music and lyrics. Throughout this time Big Joanie came to be known stylistically as “riot grrrl meets the Ronettes, with a sprinkling of dashikis”. Yet, I would say that trying to compare the band to any predecessor couldn’t ever accurately depict their music, especially not their newest album Back Home. Back Home revolutionizes Big Joanie’s sound and brings them to the center stage. The album has kept true to the vulnerability and rawness that Big Joanie has showcased in their past work, but this time they’ve incorporated elements that demand to be listened to. Through incorporating the use of heavy synthesizers and melodic harmonies, Back Home has created an album that is meant to be experienced live.