Preview: Freak N’ Queer Festival

The arts and music festival kicks off Aug. 4

UPDATE: The closing night party has been moved to the 700 Club.

Music, art and politics converge at the new Freak N’ Queer Festival (Aug. 4-7), a four-day queer and trans-centric event that’s expected to attract audiences from throughout the East Coast. Musicians, DJs, poets, artists – and even puppeteers – get in on the action when the festival opens at various venues this week as a way to provide a stage for performers and visual artists to showcase their talents in the queer community.

“We wanted to create a DIY indie showcase for all of the local artists in the queer, trans and ally communities that would be inspired by underground movements and would push the boundaries of queer spaces and performances,” says Kate Gormely, the festival’s creator. “We also wanted it to be accessible and affordable, which is why most events are sliding scale or five dollars – and some are free.”

For years now, West and North Philly have been hot spots for queer artists and performers who, Gormley says, have created communities dedicated to art, music and politics. “Phreak N’ Queer was built around these values,” says Gormley, who structured the music festival so that profits would go directly to the artists. “I think back to how important queer musicians were to me when I was a teenager and trying to figure things out. I lived in a rural area and didn’t have any kind of queer community, so queercore and riot grrrl bands gave me some sense of comfort that I wasn’t alone or crazy. I think a lot of queers and trans folks find sanctuary in the arts before we come into our own.”

Sara Sherr

Sara Sherr, known for organizing music acts for Philly’s Sugartown (and several of the earliest fundraisers for Freak N’ Queer), and host of “Sing Your Life” Karaoke at Tabu and other nightclubs each week, is one of the board members for the new festival. She was instrumental in recruiting acts from Philly, New York City and Washington, D.C.

“The festival reflects a wider range of queer and trans experiences and sensibilities than the average night out at a gay bar,” she says, “or even your normal indie rock show. It’s the rare combination of a safe space and provocative music, performance and art that you might not see or hear elsewhere.”

Lucky 7 is one queer performer in Philly who’s been involved from the beginning: “As someone active in the queer community from the late 80s through the late 90s, for me, this is a unification of the energy and creativity that pulses through out community. Philly is loaded with great queer artists and musicians, taste makers and inventors all bursting with ideas and talent.”

Check out the lineup:

Thursday, Aug. 4

Art by Ketch Wehr

“GlitterBomb!” hits Elena’s Soul (7 p.m.) in West Philly during an art opening with performers and DJs including Rainbow Destroyer, PreColumbian and Pos, Eric Ransom, Words, Elliot Harvey and Birth Noise.

Friday, Aug. 5

“Boudoir” is at Connie’s Ric Rac (8 p.m.) in South Philly during a speakeasy and erotic art auction with Ms. Wise, Bramble Queen, J. Mason III and DJs BeFree, Lucky 7 and Evil V. Art by Ketch Wehr will also be on display.

Saturday, Aug. 6

The “Queer Country Show” heads to The Rotunda (4 p.m.) in West Philly with Karen & the Sorrows. And “Homo Rama” happens at Tritone (9 p.m.) on South Street with music by The Shondes, Benni E., Sgt. Sass and Finger Banger DJs.

Sunday, Aug. 7

“Gay as a Picnic Basket” is at Liberty Lands Park in Northern Liberties. The outdoor event features performances and vendors, including Lust2Love, Attic Youth Poets, Club Lifestyle, Alia, Geppeta and Christ. The closing dance party is at PYT (6 p.m.) with DJs playing hip-hop, electro, dance and reggaeton.