Photos by Chloe Gonzales & Dylan Simmons
I mean we were heading to an event called “Yeah, Yeah, Yas,” I knew what to expect. Drive the freeway, look around the block twice and miss our turn to find the event, stop, take a couple of tries parallel parking, and struggle to find the entrance, a prelude of our eventful evening. It sucks that we are serving but the cold doesn’t care. (Hoes do get cold!) My friend, Dylan and I walk up the hill and find the entrance, after knocking on random doors, to El Cid, an intimate venue off of Sunset Blvd.
We walk in and realize–MY GOD–everyone is drenched in pearls, glitters, vintage and unique thrift finds, smiles, anything that made them express themselves. A sort of euphoric feeling rises in me. I recently discovered how amazing it felt to be surrounded by your community and the event is giving that to my Midwestern queer self. The event is buzzing before the bands even start as many collect outside and around the bar. Dylan and I scope out the venue, in awe of the designs and ambience. Soon, we hit the floor waiting for the bands to play.
The duo known as Um, Jennifer? get up on stage accompanied by bassist Sarah of Kid Sistr and Qunicy who recently toured with Blondeshell. Originally from New York City, Um, Jennifer? comes here tonight to show off their limited track of indie rock alongside a new star studded (secret!) setlist.
Fig faces the crowd. An ‘x’ on each of their cheeks and sprinkles of star acne stickers adorn them while Eli comes up with an eye-catching button up. The two introduce themselves and do their last adjustments with their instruments, strapping them on and tuning.
Fig asks if they could have a phone and soon a hand reaches up to sacrifice theirs to the two, not knowing what they will do. Fig grabs it and starts speaking to an some entity on the other side of the landline, doing a improv rendition of the “Girl Class” intro:
The duo sings back and forth over needing a teacher specializing in girlhood, begging for a taste of classic femininity. The conversation is being presented over a simple bassline that turns into a clash as the chorus hits: “I need a Girl class! Girl class! Girl class!” The song, set up from the perspective of the patriarchy and traditional gender roles, feels relatable to me and many other in the audience, as we catch on with their energy and scream “FUCK YOU!!!!”
In between sets, Eli and Fig talk to us and their band members, Sarah and Crane, giving us an improv set of what they’ll play next or simply saying “Yeah, Yeah? Yeah? Yeah!!!!” to one another. There is no professionalism, just a broken fourth wall; they felt as human as their lyrics.
The setlist, presented elegantly on a crumpled piece of receipt paper (seems in character) brings us to song after song of unreleased, original songs from the duo. To many, even the released discography from the band is new to them. This is the hurdle for house shows and small bands: how do you get the audience excited about your work when they don’t know it? Other than playing covers, it’s an uphill battle.
It seems to Um, Jennifer? however, there’s no thought about the nerves of chasing an audience’s approval. Each and every song presents an infectious energy that grabs the audience, making us tap our feet or go full out on the wooden dance floor.
I’ve been waiting for this one. My favorite from when I first discovered them, I forfeit my camera to my friend and get ready as I hear that one note repeating–it’s “Cut Me Open.” Slowly moving my limbs to center stage, I feel the tension build for the chorus.
I scream and scream and even if I don’t remember the lyrics perfectly I scream out of happiness, screaming something to what Um, Jennifer? is cutting into us. I will learn what these lyrics truly mean later but at this moment I am a part of the gay choir.
Post-interview, we head back into the event (with some bribing and stating “we literally are the band that performed??”) and nothing has died down. My friend and I enjoy the last of it, supporting the artists by snagging some AMAZINGLY designed merch from the band Guppy and getting to talk to some new faces, bonding over the performances and forever complimenting each other back and forth on each other’s outfits and personalities. Again, I felt so happy being in this space, something that I never had a chance to be in. Everyone seems happy to be there, forming circles of people, surely of new and old relationships.
After Dylan and I snap some pictures and say our last adorations to the beautiful venue, we head back as we both need to head to our actual homes elsewhere. On the car ride back, instead of the usual silence that comes from exhaustion after an event, we buzz about the experience and dive into the new music we have just discovered.
Read our interview with Um, Jennifer here and listen to their discography below!