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    “Vaccines made me gay! Fluoride made me gay!” front-femme Rej Forester sings, and scream-pop duo GRLwood lays into another lick and rumble. Forester’s voice is high, her guitar’s power chords like a dark surf beneath the tempest that is drummer Karen Ledford. They play to a packed and pulsing crowd at Germantown’s The Cure Lounge, where you better get your earplugs from the door dude, because, as announced before the show: “We run as loud as we possibly can and we will never turn down.”

    Blue string lights bridge the brick walls. The room is pure vibration. The crowd — some pink, teal and purple-haired, holes in their tights, studs in their patched vests — is in a rock-hot body takeover. The people bounce, heads bobbing all directions, quick as the drumstick bounding off the cymbal.

    Forester breaks from a soft, almost operatic yodel and blasts a scream through the barrel of her throat. Wide-eyed, wide-mouthed, she jumps around in the red stage light. A mild mosh ensues. As someone who doesn’t normally tap this genre and who’s been holed up in hibernation (this is my first live show in a grip), I’m stand-still amazed, slack-jawed. It’s as if Forester has a thousand lungs tucked into her tiny frame. “I’ve passed out from screaming,” she tells me after the show and a hug. This is the band’s sixth show in a row around town and I’m surprised she can still speak.


    Photo: GRLwood at the Cure Lounge // by Arielle Christian

    “I’M YER DAD / I’ve got a big dick,” Forester challenges, not wearing the beard she usually draws on her face for performances. GRLwood identifies as “angry lesbian genderfuck feminists” and their songs are middle fingers to the status quo. The two are defined by defiance. Twenty-two-year-old Ledford has marked a colorful line down the middle of her face, inspired by John Lennon’s movie The Holy Mountain. Between songs, Forester talks about sexual assault and how only yes means yes. All the CDs and patches and other fun stuff in their lit-up merch suitcase all donation-based. I snag a pink patch with an animorph: fish’s head, lady’s legs spread wide, vagina wet with the word “GRL.”

    “Every time I see someone dance, I come,” Forester says to the audience, some sweating. Her fingers wander up and down the frets and it all feels very electric. The room grows bulbous with heat. Like we’re inside of a lightbulb. Like we’re tight-roping the tungsten filament of rage and hope, unafraid to fall. Bright and alive and buzzing.

    Cover Photo: GRLwood // Facebook

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