In a town full of rock and rollers, The Ovaries-eez stand out. The group, comprised of a trio of siren-voiced musicians, generally take the stage perched ever-so-still on three chairs with nothing more than a guitar and sometimes a kick drum in front of them. Their performance at their album release show on Saturday will likely be no different. The delicate performers rely heavily on their words, a skill laced with feminist and environmental themes. “I like the contrast of having a vocal heavy band,” admits Amber Hansen, who describes her band as “a vocal heavy performance with minimal instruments.” Bandmate Monica George agrees. “When I first started we tried to bring in the washboard. I think we liked that, but in reality it felt better to stick with our simple setup just because we have more emphasis on the vocals,” she says. “A lot of our songs are staying in one rhythm. They contrast and change a lot, so it’s hard to add in percussive instruments.”
It’s important to note how a band with minimal instruments, nearly no percussion, and heavy vocals captivates audiences (as they’ve done in Lawrence over the past couple of years). Entrancing harmonies help, but a lot of their allure comes from a supportive music community ready for more women in the scene. “People in general like the female lead compared to most other bands in town,” vocalist Johni Lacore says. “It’s nice to have an all-female band.” George also notices a diversity in the musical tastes of their fans. “Even people who we don’t think would like our music are into it,” she noted. “Even people who are more rock heavy have a sense of enjoyment… in Lawrence, there’s a lot more open-minded feminists, so that’s a good space for us.”
You can’t ignore The Ovaries-eez’s feminist tones. For one, you know what you’re getting into with this band just based off their name alone. We’ve jokingly referred to The Ovaries-eez as a band that could play the feminist bookstore in an episode of “Portlandia.” But in Lawrence, there’s a hunger for more women in the scene. “I would like to see more female-centered bands in Lawrence and hear more music written and performed by women,” says Hansen. “For women to feel more comfortable performing wherever they are.” With The Ovaries-eez, Youngest Children, Heidi Gluck, Sugar Britches, La Guerre, and a host of other musicians in town— 2015 was the year more women could confidently take the stage. “We’ve gotten a lot of support from older women. They say it was refreshing to see young women playing,” Lacore says. “I think we’re pretty comfortably here. The spaces generally have good energy.”
That surge in “good energy” helped The Ovaries-eez put out their first album since 2014. For the close bandmates, it was pertinent to grow as a team. “It’s important for me to continue to learn from both of these girls, my bandmates. Learning together and making music together is a skill I’ve never had before. It’s something totally unique and new for me,” George confides. “I could be making music on my own, but it’s not the same. There’s so much of a difference when you bring in other people and skills.” Naturally, Lacore lends her support to that statement. At this point, she turns to them and says “I think my relationship with you guys is so important in my life. Not just in music, but having close female relationships. We can talk about music, but it’s really refreshing to get together. It jus seems to happen naturally.”
To see what comes natural to the women in The Ovaries-eez, catch them at their album release show at Love Garden this Saturday with Heidi Gluck and Invisible Public Library.
Words and photos by Fally Afani