I was more than a little intrigued yesterday when we received a press release announcing the line-up for the 2011 edition (Have there been previous editions?) of Dame-Nation, “Chicago’s premier female-fronted metal festival” (Does Chicago have other female-fronted metal festivals?). The idea of doing a whole show based around bands that are fronted by women isn’t new; as I write this, the Revolver Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock tour is about half complete. And the organizers of Dame-Nation seem to only kinda-sorta know what they’re doing. But it’s their complete lack of polish that I find, well… admirable, really.

One key difference between the Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock tour and Dame-Nation is that none of the bands on Dame-Nation are famous. In other words, if the Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock tour features bands that no one would care about if not for the fact that they have attractive girls in the group, then Dame-Nation features bands that no one cares about despite having attractive girls in the group.

Maybe the bands on HCIHR have ascended somewhat higher on the metallic food chain (fiscally if not creatively) than the bands on Dame-Nation because they know how to sell themselves; HCIHR makes no bones about its own marketing ploy. Just check out the poster… what product is it actually advertising?

Maria Brink has a nice pair of sunglasses.

Now contrast this with the poster for Dame-Nation:

Obviously both posters prominently feature women (duh), but whomever designed the Dame-Nation poster didn’t feel the need to put tits front and center in order to sell the event — you only see the tiniest little bit of cleavage in the above photos. (Also, I’m almost certain that at least five of the nine women on the Dame-Nation poster are actually all the same person. Three cheers for the lady with the blonde streak  in her hair for daring to break the fashion code and introducing a little color into her life. Also for wearing a They Live t-shirt.)

It is kinda funny that both shows use the phrase “Hell hath no fury,” and the pun Dame-Nation utilizes makes almost no sense to me, and I suspect would make even less sense to someone who isn’t familiar with metal culture. But like I said, there’s something appealing about Dame-Nation’s complete lack of sheen or pretense.

For example, Dame-Nation, unlike HCIHR, does not seem to be attempting to have its cake and eat it, too. Says In This Moment’s Maria Brink: “…we are excited to support a worthwhile charity in Keep a Breast Foundation by donating a percent of all CD sales on this tour to the charity.” And I agree — Keep a Breast is a worthy charity. But I find this whole statement is so vague as to arouse suspicion.

What percentage of CD sales are being donated to the charity? Five percent? Ten percent? Half a percent? Why just CD sales and not merch sales? I obviously don’t have any of ITM’s tour-sales statistics to back this up, but I’d wager that they sell way more merch on the road than they do CDs. (Especially given that they’re the headliners of this trek. Who the hell is going to see them that doesn’t already own their albums?) The lack of specificity makes it hard not to see this as a calculated move in which all parties involved are trying to downplay the fact that they’re selling sex by supporting an admirable charity.

Dame-Nation isn’t donating any money to charity, but they are promising that “Chicago Women of Metal” — which sounds like a special union for Chicago-area female welders or something — “will spin metal following the concert until 3:00am.”

Read that again: “Chicago Women of Metal will spin metal.” Well, that’s a relief.

My point being simply this: the organizers of Dame-Nation want to put on a big show, and they want to celebrate women in metal. Yes, their event might seem kinda cheesy, and yes, their press release could have used a once-over by someone who can actually, y’know, write, but their hearts seem firmly ensconced in the right place.

And it’s hard to see the Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock tour as anything but a cynical sales scheme.

You can get more details on Dame-Nation here.




Metal Sucks Greatest Hits