The House of Sarcasm #22 – Let’s Hear From the Women – Some of Portland’s Rockingest Female-Fronted Bands

Written by on October 6, 2018

The Shivas will perform at PSU Parkway North (SMSU 101) on Oct. 18 with Plastic Cactus and Night Beats – part of Portland State of Mind festival. Vocalist Kristin Leonard also plays drums.

The House of Sarcasm #22 – Let’s Hear From the Women – Some of Portland’s Rockingest Female-Fronted Bands

Women in America aren’t feeling listened to right now.  Well, not on my show.  Today’s show is all about the womxn.  Thanks for tuning in for an hour of music by bands led by female-identified Portlanders.  I had fun putting this together and I hope you enjoyed it.  I’m just sorry I didn’t have more time to play the many, many other hardworking female musicians in this town.  I salute you all!

And now here is a chart:

I made the above chart because I wanted to check my own efforts to include more women’s voices on this show.  I spend a lot of time looking for new bands and checking out music that I haven’t heard before.  I always try to include female-fronted bands as much as possible.  But it’s a numbers game.  The rock and roll world here in Portland, as with most things and most places, is male-dominated, plain and simple.  There are just a lot more bands that feature male voices than female, at least from the research I’ve done since I started this show.

Friday, October 5 was my 22nd show.  In 22 hours of music, I have played a total of 341 songs by 259 artists.  Of these, 162 (62.5%) of the bands have male lead vocals and 76 (29.3%) have female voices.  11 of them were male/female duets, and 10 were instrumentals with no vocals (some of those 10 bands do have vocalists who sing on other songs, but I only counted them under instrumentals because that is what I played).

So I have played over twice as many male-fronted bands as female-fronted bands.

I am sharing this information because I want to point out that it isn’t such a wild idea to dedicate one of my shows now and then to amplifying the voices of women.  They are under-represented on this show, as can be seen in my chart.  I need to change that.

I don’t claim that this is any way a scientific study.  I know there are a lot of other factors that haven’t been taken into consideration.  For instance, many male-fronted bands have female members playing instruments and/or singing backup (I am in such a band myself), while there are men who play and sing in female-fronted bands.  Also, there is the fact that I have not personally verified that every voice which sounds traditionally “male” or “female” in fact belongs to a person who identifies as that gender.  So what I am really basing this on is “traditionally-male-sounding” or “traditionally-female-sounding” voices.

I also realize that I haven’t taken into account the number of bands that I have played more than once (since there are 82 more songs than there are bands) and how that may tip the balance in either direction.  This also raises questions about exposure – is it better to play a small number of bands frequently, or to play a large number of bands only once each?  Ultimately it all comes down to my personal preferences, how much time I have, whether something fits with a certain theme or style I’m going for, what music I am able to find online, and whether or not the song has explicit lyrics (which is one reason that I haven’t played a lot of bands).

This chart is only for the bands I’ve played on my show, The House of Sarcasm, all of whom are or were based in Portland at any time since the invention of rock ‘n’ roll.  This doesn’t have anything to do with statistics for KPSU or for radio as a whole, although I’m interested in seeing those.  I did come across this article, which shows that only 20-30% of musicians played on Dutch radio stations are female.

I’d also like to see some male DJs dedicating their shows to women’s voices. It’s one thing for a feminist like me to do it, but what if all the guys started analyzing what they play and making an effort to amplify women and bring them up to a level of equality with the men’s voices they play?  Are any guys doing this?

I read that Sarah McLachlan founded the Lilith Fair because she was fed up with radio stations and concert promoters who refused to play two female musicians in a row.  For anyone who is of the mindset that two female voices in a row is too much, please take a look at my above un-scientific chart of the Portland microcosm and you’ll see that it’s actually not nearly enough.

While we’re on the topic of so-called traditional-sounding voices, gender, and music, I want to encourage everyone to check out PSU’s upcoming Gender Bender shows on November 9 and 11.

Portland State’s Chamber Choir, Rose Choir and Thorn Choir (the artists formerly known as Man Choir and Vox Femina) “present a sometimes serious, sometimes humorous concert of music contemplating gender and sexual identity as it relates to choir, music and life in general.”

Thank you once again for listening to the voices of women/womxn/female-identified folks.  Please share this post if you’d like to help amplify women’s voices!

Please click the download link below to listen to this show.





  • Enough is Enough
  • Let It Ride
  • Punk Rock Mix Tape
    Thundering Asteroids!
  • Perfect Crime
    Crush Hazard
  • Happy Song
    Autopilot is for Lovers
  • Struggle Like No Other
    The Epoxies
  • Virtual Reality
    The Bloodtypes
  • Topless
    Monica Nelson & The Highgates
  • Laugh While You Can
    The Bridge City Sinners
  • Offbeat
    Plastic Cactus
  • Eleven
    J. Graves
  • Pretty Girl
  • Moving to Mars
    Creature Party
  • Hellfire
    Witch Mountain
  • Running in the Shadows
    Neo Boys
  • Make America Hate Again
  • Sweet Dreams
  • Gotta Gotta Gotta
    Sex Crime
  • I’ve Had Enough
    The Shivas

  • Show Notes & Show Blogs


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