The all-woman band uses movement to take back a genre that has historically objectified and excluded women.
Hard rock has not always been built for women, but Thunderpussy is changing that. They are giving women a space to reclaim their bodies in a genre that has often excluded and objectified them. Thunderpussy is currently on tour for their debut, self-titled album, and will play Voodoo Sunday at 1 p.m. on the South Course Stage.
Rather than railing against the hard rock genre’s suffocating masculinity, they turn the gender politics into something playful by focusing on movement, specifically burlesque and dance. Their video for “Speed Queen” exemplifies this. It is set in a saloon, a historically masculine setting, but the only men in the video are in the background and out of focus. Women shape the video, dressed in flashy, gender-bending clothing while performing choreography that is sensually violent. The burlesque dancers take back the agency of women in hard rock videos, substituting the slew of interchangeable groupies that are characteristic of male-dominated hard rock videos and make something more sexy and playful in the process.
Thunderpussy honors Seattle’s rich history of producing powerhouse rock and roll. They created their album with the help of producer Sylvia Massy (Tool, System of a Down) and Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, who allowed and encouraged the band to push their sound to weirder, louder places that are no longer the staple sound of rock music.
Voodoo Fest has worked to maintain its roots in rock 'n' roll, but in recent years that has meant searching through a catalogue of older rock acts, asking fans in their 20s to get behind bands beloved by thirty- and fortysomethings. At the same time, bands that are barely recognizable as rock 'n' roll like 21 Pilots, The 1975, and Imagine Dragons have become the face of rock music for a younger generation of listeners. Thunderpussy bridges this gap and restores the grittiness and swagger for younger listeners, and especially to young girls. They are giving girls the permission to be loud by being loud themselves, with an infectious onstage energy. “We wanted to be as dynamic and diverse as we could,” says singer Molly Sides. “We are a group of loud personalities.”
Sides moved to Seattle to dance, and she is using movement as her method of reclamation. “It all comes from the body!” she says. “When I write I usually have to get up and create a motion for a part of the song.” In the wake of the #MeToo movement, giving women permission to be unapologetic simply in the ways their bodies exist or move is cathartic and crucial.
This motion also gives the genre new life, invigorating young listeners who have never dipped their toes into the genre, and giving a refreshing new energy to older listeners who have watched in anguish as Imagine Dragons fly the flag for the sound they once loved.
“I hope we send off an inviting and welcoming energy. I hope listeners feel like they can join the pussy party!”