Rock Against Rape Culture invites community approach to combating sexual assault; Hear Nebraska FM continues KZUM’s fund drive tonight

Rock Against Rape Culture invites community approach to combating sexual assault

If there was a musical moment that succinctly captured the spirit of Saturday night’s Voices of Hope benefit concert, it came midway through a blistering set by The Boner Killerz. A particularly emphatic rendition of “All The Bi Girls” gave way to an escalating doo-wop breakdown, and vocalist/guitarist Eris Koleszar suggested to the song’s hypothetical conversation partner a kiss — but only if they wanted.

“I want you to feel empowered to say no, because there will be no negative repercussions,”  Koleszar soulfully exclaimed, her voice heightening with each word.

The approach invited explicit consent, in the middle of a deafening rock song, when popular and political culture often blows past it altogether.

photo by Lauren Farris

In an atmosphere where the demonstrably creepy “Blurred Lines” became a hit song and local and national political figures continue to openly mock the seriousness of sexual assault, Koleszar’s message was refreshing to hear in that context.

That idea lay directly at the center of “Rock Against Rape Culture,” the joint forum and concert event hosted Saturday by The Commons, which featured Bien Fang, The Boner Killerz, The Morbs and Once A Pawn. Organized by Bien Fang’s Rachel Tomlinson-Dick with support from Courtney Morrow, it addressed the prevalence of rape culture throughout society — and specifically, smaller communities such as Nebraska’s music scene — as well as how to combat it.

Rape culture is unfortunately pervasive — its discussion relevant in nearly all social contexts. Roughly 1 in 5 women experience sexual assault in their lifetime and roughly 63-percent of incidents go unreported, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Zoom in more specifically and find countless examples of sexual violence within music communities from Portland to Austin to Indonesia.

“It’s a pretty common experience that at a show is the first place we were ever groped,” Tomlinson Dick told HN leading up to the event, saying that in such instances the offense often goes underreported, or worse, dismissed.

Voices of Hope representative Morgan Beal led a presentation and discussion on rape culture at around 7 p.m. on The Commons main floor. She spoke to an audience of roughly 50 about recognizing and acknowledging the existence of rape culture and concrete ways to fight it. Much of the conversation revolved around personal and community accountability, direct confrontation and belief in survivors as practices to adopt. A couple group members stressed the importance of recognizing one’s racial, sexual or socioeconomic privileges where they exist and working to amplify marginalized voices

photo by Lauren Farris

The discussion spilled into the basement, where The Boner Killerz weren’t the only band to face consent and rape culture head-on. During Bien Fang’s set, Tomlinson Dick spoke further about the need to acknowledge privilege and the existence of sexual assault within the community. She also read from a working list of strategies aimed at individual and community accountability.

“Assault is something we try to avoid talking about,” she said. “It’s easy to be in the bubble of our creative community.”

The atmosphere felt positive and constructive, reflected in the bands’ performances. The Morbs showcased each of the trio’s songwriting styles, a mixed bag of poppy, sentimental and over-the-top. Once A Pawn played sharply, debuting a handful of new songs and seemingly unaffected by the basement setting. Bien Fang was as heavy as ever, with Tomlinson Dick and Morrow taking turns at the mic. And nobody outwardly seemed to have as much fun as The Boner Killerz, which performed a head-splitting cover of TLC’s “No Scrubs.”

The event also achieved another of its goals in raising about $700 in donations for Voices of Hope, according to Tomlinson Dick. That money will go toward the organization’s mission to support sexual assault survivors. Organizers hope the discussion continues.

So proud and inspired by this community and excited to keep working toward positive change with y’all,” wrote Tomlinson Dick.

See more photos from Saturday night’s show below:

Bien Fang

The Boner Killerz

The Morbs

Once A Pawn

photos by Lauren Farris

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Hear Nebraska FM continues KZUM’s fund drive

Monday means another edition of Hear Nebraska FM, our two-hour Nebraska music program on Lincoln’s KZUM radio.

This week, we’re smack in the middle of the nonprofit community station’s first fund drive of 2017. As of 8 am this morning, listeners have donated $24,616.61, drawing closer and closer to KZUM’s $35,000 goal.

While there are many reasons to support KZUM, we believe its local focus is chief among them. That includes ongoing events like its Stransky Park and Soup & Songs series as well as its devotion to supporting local music.

Tune in tonight at 8 p.m. to hear just one example of the diverse programming KZUM has to offer, and if you feel so inclined, donate in Hear Nebraska FM’s name (there will be some great swag in it for you).

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Concert Round-Up

Tonight, Los Angeles metal band Winds of Plague tours through Omaha, plays Lookout Lounge with Depths of Hatred, Blessed Are The Merciless, Live and Obey and Bastard Eyes. The all-ages show opens at 6 p.m., entry is $13. RSVP here.

Send all news tips, story ideas, upcoming shows and HN Radio song submissions to news@hearnebraska.org.

Andrew Stellmon is Hear Nebraska's managing editor. Reach him with news tips and story ideas at news@hearnebraska.org.