As Sadie Dupuis and I listened to Laetitia Tamko, who was opening for Dupuis’ new pop-synth band Sad13 (pronounced “Sad Thirteen”), the one-woman-band Vagabon from NYC lit up the room with heavy riffs and smoke-toned vocals. On “Cold Apartment Floors,” I started feeling like I was at an East Coast basement show again. Then this happened, which totally confirmed those sensations:
Then on “Shadows,” Tamko sang, “You said you moved to Colorado, where the sun and moon always blew,” and I remembered where I was again: The Larimer Lounge in Denver, standing with Dupuis from Speedy Ortiz, the singer with the dolled-up voice that pops over heavy guitars and melodic distortion who I’ve been listening to regularly for 3+ years standing with me, her fuzzy blue cat ears nodding in approval of her friend Vagabon onstage.
That’s a big theme on Dupuis’ new album Slugger: women supporting women, which Dupuis demonstrated IRL on Saturday. The tracks on Slugger, like “The Sting,” have Dupuis alternating between slaying rigid hooks, fluttering keyboards, and electronic beats that make Sad13 an unapologetically synth-pop band who gravitates away from the grunge sound Dupuis is known for in certain indie-rock circles. But the truth is, Sad13 was feminist girl rock that Denver wasn’t ready for and didn’t show up for in the same masses who turned out for Speedy Ortiz when they were in the city back in April. And Denver missed out.
I got talk with Dupuis for a hot second about the “de-escalation strategies” she had printed out for people to take from her merch table, before her set with Jade Payne from Aye Nako, a Brooklyn punk band known for songs about the experiences of being black, trans, and queer on lead guitar, and with Emily Reo, on bass, a solo artist in her own right. Dupuis and Sad13 are slaying stereotypes by being totally inclusive and genuine about it, while also promoting this empowering “third space” for people like us, who find themselves show-hopping throughout our weekends.
“Claws protracted, but we’re not scratching/We boost each other up… I just want to hype my best girls,” Dupuis called out when closing their set with “Hype.” The women who came together to bring Denver Sad13 modeled the efforts of women, people of color, and non-binary artists to slug home runs for the third places they’re trying to cultivate into safe spaces. And that’s why we need Dupuis and her friends being the new champions of protest music, and of feminist punk rock right now. We need ladies that will be louder, bossier, and will fight like hell for people like me to be able to go to my “third place” solo to support my ladies without hassle. Right?
Try and catch the Sad13 tour if you can. Dupuis plays baseball game themed music in-between songs and they even have a Christmas tune! This is the next generation of feminist punk rock in action.
All photos, videos, tweets, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.