Rosie & the Riveters show women a good time

Feminist band looking for fun as they tour through Winnipeg

Feminist band Rosie & the Riveters is coming to Winnipeg for a fun and cheerful show.

Allyson Reigh, Alexis Normand, Melissa Nygren and Farideh Olsen will play uplifting folk music at The Park Theatre on Nov. 29, dressed in 1940s garb.

“Our aim is to have people come to our show and leave feeling a little bit lighter, because we made them laugh or made them think or they’ve just enjoyed the positivity that we bring, and that’s really our goal,” Reigh says.

Olsen started the group in 2011 because she wanted to create a space for women to come together and do something serious and creative in a way that she had not seen before, Reigh says.

Rather than singing songs about heartbreak and boyfriends, Reigh says they focus more on things that make them happy, such as when they sing about fashion in “Red Dress.”

Part of their goal is to bring women together in support of their own communities, and they do this, in part, by setting an example. 

“Younger women don’t always have, necessarily, access to four women on a stage together that isn’t already a really famous pop band,“ Reigh says.

She and the other band members are friends first, she says, and that’s something the audience can see.

They also support women by donating 20 per cent of their merchandise sales through Kiva to women working on arts and handmade projects.

The band is very conscious of its branding, which includes a strong aesthetic.

“We take our inspiration from Rosie the Riveter, who was a feminist icon during the 1940s,” Reigh says.

All members dress in ’40s fashion, however, they each choose outfits that flatter their individual body.

“I think people really think of feminist as unfeminine, so it’s a little bit unusual to be like ‘we’re feminist’ and then be dressed up,” Olsen says.

But she says they don’t put in the time because they need to look pretty. Rather, it’s about branding. 

Getting their updos just right didn’t come easy at first and took a lot of YouTube research.

“Over time, you get faster and faster. When I first started, it might have taken me a long time to do my hair. And much tears. But now, it’s very easy,” Olsen says.

It’s become part of their pre-show ritual, which she says most musicians have.

“For me, it also connects me sometimes to my grandmother. After my grandmother passed away, just getting dressed up, I’d sometimes have a little cry after, because I looked like my grandmother when she was young,” Olsen says.

Their aesthetic and the fact that they’re an all-woman group don’t always help them.

“Men are just like, ‘I don’t know what this is. This is kind of some stupid girl thing.’ And then they see the show and they see how many people are coming and how happy they are, how excited they are to see women who truly love each other and are really good friends coming together on stage,” Olsen says.

Women having fun together is something she thinks is missing from the public eye, but Rosie & the Riveters are helping change that.

Rosie & the Riveters will perform at The Park Theatre on Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and available through myparktheatre.com.

Published in Volume 71, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 24, 2016)

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