King Woman, Wax Idols, Plush on June 19, 2016 at Starline Social Club.
There was not one bit of me that was not excited for this show. I spoke about it as if it was a religious experience, and in the end it felt that way. It was that way.
Walking through the empty streets of Oakland because everyone was inside watching the game (sorry for your loss, Oakland) to Starline Social Club was surreal on its own. Peaceful, in the sense that I knew I was safe and that everyone was safe as well. Walking into the space, with everyone screaming during the last minute of the game, I had no clue what going on. All I knew is I was there for King Woman and Wax Idols. I was there because not only did I have so much respect for those bands, but the way people have discussed seeing them live seemed like something I had to experience on my own. I went alone. I knew I’d know people there, but I wanted to be alone.
As people trickled in, many of them were family and friends of the bands. I myself was one of the 60 or so people that gave Kristina Esfandiari of King Woman a giant welcome-home hug. Watching all her friends approach her with such joy and appreciation for her existence was only one of the main things that made that night feel safe.
When someone asked me who I was there to see, I told them the truth: I was there to see them all. I am a fan of all these bands. I have their songs in my playlists that I listen on repeat with no hesitation. I know some of their songs by heart, but the only band I had seen multiple times before was Plush. But this time was different: There was something about tonight that made everyone so much stronger. They were not being amazing in a garage in Oakland or the opening act for a touring band — tonight they were a part of the welcoming of their friends. They were the opening sermon. Most importantly, Kristina joined them during the last song, giving us all a performance to go home and pray to.
I had never seen Wax Idols or King Woman live. I had been waiting for this moment since someone whispered to me about it over some Taco Bell. I had been waiting for this moment and the moment was finally here.
Everyone was left in awe by Wax Idols. Hether Fortune took control of that stage and no one could take their eyes off her. She made us all believers. She sang, she screamed, she danced, she ruled. Whenever anyone tried to dance, we had to stop because we couldn’t make our eyes ignore the pure power going on during that set. Everyone was standing still. No one could separate themselves from the moment. I stood there like an idiot with my mouth wide opened and my eyes failing to stay cool. Just like everyone there, I was taken aback. I was expecting to be blown away, but I was blown so far out of my own pain, body, and existence that I felt like I didn’t exist for a moment.
I waited in the front of the stage for King Woman and screamed in praise and respect when they took that stage. Soon I was speechless and unable to make a sound. Kristina is the most powerful performer I’ve ever witnessed, because when she’s on that stage she is King Woman. She and the rest of the band have created an entity — not just music. I wanted to scream along but something came over me, as Kristina made the crowd make her room for on floor while she sang to us, with us, for us, and for herself. There is a kind of beautiful pain and release that easily comes through King Woman’s music. It’s not just for her or the band, it’s universal. For every woman that forgets that they are powerful, and that no matter what shit you went through before you got here, you are not alone. King Woman is a safe space for you to scream, to let go, to break down.
I broke down. I had to leave the front of the stage, because the music was letting something I had been trying so hard to keep to myself out. I felt like I was going to barf everything I needed to say and feel, I had to get out. Gladly, everyone there was so respectful. They didn’t push or moan as I walked through the crowd. They were with me in that moment, but they were stronger. I stood in the back, watching the rest of the set, feeling everything I needed to feel, and feeling at home in it. King Woman is not just a band, it’s an entity, and there is something so much stronger to it that I will never understand. That band is power, that band is necessary to so many people, including the people in the band.
This wasn’t just a concert, this was mass. This was what people who are religious go to church for. At the end, as people dispersed, I could see friends hugging each other as they sobbed in unison. King Woman let them be free of all the shit in their life for a moment and let them know it was OK to feel and be.