There is an unwritten rule concerning the gay community and it goes like this; always support good art and never pass up a great party. The Kentuckiana Pride Foundation along with musical director Rodney Coffman are to be commended for pulling off such a great, relaxed atmosphere and production that even a little afternoon wind and thunder could not break. Overall, the musicality throughout the entire 2012 Pride festival highlighted everything there is to love about gay supporting artists. From Center Stage’s preview of the upcoming production of RENT in July to Louisville's own Blue Umbrellas to openly lovable acoustic rocker Eric Himan, you could feel the love flowing throughout the air and that was just the beginning. Featured performances were held throughout the day from featured LGBT friendly artists and groups all fighting the good fight through art to support basic human civil rights.
It is afternoon, it’s hot and people of all races and genders are dancing to music coming from the centrally located stage on the Belvedere. Everywhere you look you see rainbows and chairs aligned under tents to help festival attendees fight off the heat. Everywhere you go you see smiling faces in the mostly calm, laid back atmosphere. On stage appears a gem of an artist called Eric Himan from Tulsa, Oklahoma and it’s not his first pride rodeo. The tatted up Himan, a doppelganger visual remake of a modern day Freddie Mercury with his mustache, is gathering a crowd around the stage as he acoustically commands attention with his creative renditions of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” and Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls.” His wide vocal range can be heard throughout a long radius as he segues from an original tune into a brilliant acoustic version of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.” Just as he asks the crowd “Who here is proud to be a part of the LGBT community?” thunder cracks and strong winds blow the stage around, causing sound men to rush the side of the stage to secure speakers hanging from large poles. For the record, Himan powered through like a true professional and just as he cranks into a “Protest Song” off of his Resonate album, the dark, creeping thunderstorm loses out to bright rays of sunshine.
The Cliks, a Canadian indie rock group all the way from Canada complete with front lead singer and transgender band creator Lucas Silveira, shake up the crowd with their minor chord driven songs. The group opens with a song called “Complicated,” famously known for being on the gay television show The L Word. The creative group is matched to the sounds of all of their influences which range from everything such as David Bowie, to The Black Keys and Amy Winehouse. Expect a new album from this group in late October of this year and side note, the group might shock fans with an unexpected twist on the release which Silveira describes as heavily influenced by soul music.
LaBoy LaFemme definitely proved to be a crowd pleaser and a nice switch up to the list of acts featured at the outside festival. All of a sudden, everywhere you look there are fabulous drag queens aligning the stage with hip dancers, lip-synching to “Lady Marmalade.” Crowds continue to cheer as Hurricane Summers, the hostess with the most, takes the stage to impress. The group finishes with a highlighted performance by Canadian pop musician Guinevere whose set includes tall storm trooper-esque dressed robots complete with marching drums and iPads built into their costumes.
The coolest moment of this year’s Pride festival came just before local favorites The Ladybirds, the band not the UL Cheerleaders, graced the stage. Ladybird’s drummer Brett Holsclaw decked in his American Willie Nelson sweat band welcomes up 4-year-old Aiden Atwood to the stage to sound check the drums before the band’s set. The crowd is definitely feeling good and having a blast as day turns into night and The Ladybird’s crank into their brand new opener entitled “Lights Out.” Front woman Sarah Teeple Swain complete with a flashy sequence rainbow dress and red high heels that even drag queens were drooling for commanded the crowd’s attention as the band pumped their soothing 50’s sounding surf rock jams through the loud speakers. The Ladybirds are animated, fun-loving professionals with a touch of rowdy on the side and they are putting out a 45 record this summer, you can’t find a band much cooler! As one dancer in the crowd said, “I couldn’t think of a better way to represent the very alive Louisville music scene during Pride.” Performances concluded the long weekend of festivities with shows from Xelle, pronounced XL, a girl pop group consisting of two girls and a drag queen and American house music vocalist Inaya Day.
With civil rights for gay and lesbians on the brink of change, Pride festivals are one of the few days that the community comes together to highlight what they stand for and what they love, music included. This year’s Kentuckiana pride festival was a great experience and one fantastic party, one definitely to be remembered by all those who put in long hours working for the foundation and for anyone who graciously attended to support the cause.
photos courtesy of Stef Perri