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Festival 'floods the scene' with punk spirit of female and non-binary artists

Sally Rose-manifest-festival.png
Musician Sally Rose will play in Manifest Festival. Photo courtesy of Manifest Festival

For Durham-based multi-disciplinary musician Khx05 — pronounced “chaos" — punk is more than a genre.

Khx05 defines punk people by their lifestyle and attitude rather than their specific aesthetic.

Growing up, they said that they were surrounded by people who, even if they would not identify themselves as punk, embodied the anti-establishment attitude that the subculture is known for.

“There were always people who were defiant, willing to speak up, willing to fight,” they said.

Next month, Khx05 will perform at Manifest 6, an underground music festival with the same ethos. The weekend's 24 acts — most of which are based in the Triangle — all carry the spirit of punk, according to Manifest's website, whether they are considered rock, country, hardcore or electronic. 

Since Khx05 released their first EP, "Transformation," in 2019, they have refined their sound into a mixture of punk and electronic, incorporating microgenres within house music. They also explore Afrofuturism: a literary and artistic movement that celebrates the African diaspora while envisioning ways in which technology can be harnessed to better its future.

“I wanted to make music that was danceable and hype, but also music that was about liberation,” they said.

According to Erika Kobayashi Libero, the festival's organizer and vocalist for the garage-punk band BANGZZ, Manifest was founded in 2016 to address the underrepresentation of women and non-binary performers in the live music space. 

Around that time, she read an article which analyzed the lineups of major music festivals, such as Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza , and found that, across the board, there were very few acts without cisgender men. 

When they founded Manifest alongside country musician  River Shook, Libero said they wanted to increase connectivity and visibility among local women and gender-expansive performers. 

“Manifest is a way to bring everyone together and flood the scene with female and non-binary artists,” they said.

In order to be eligible to perform, women and members of the LGBTQ+ community must make up at least half of the act.

Ash Graña, bassist for Narsick — a Chapel Hill based indie punk band that will be featured at the festival — said she has observed a recent increase of gender inclusivity in the North Carolina underground music scene. 

“It's a combination of things and events like Manifest that kind of spotlight members of the female and queer, non-binary community that are involved in music and people may not know about because they aren’t on the 'normal' spectrum of what people have been exposed to in the past in the area,” they said. "Events like Manifest are a huge, huge step in the right direction." 

Sarah Landis, Narsick's bassist, said  they became involved in Manifest because of a personal connection with Libero, who curates the roster by contacting potential artists she knows from 15 years of working as a local musician.

Libero said that although the area’s independent music scene has suffered in recent years from COVID-19 pandemic-related closures of well-known venues such as Nightlight, there is still a vibrant community that Manifest continues to spotlight.

“Manifest is carrying on the tradition and letting people know that Chapel Hill is a music town,” she said.

Manifest will receive support of college radio disc jockeys at UNC’s WXYC and N.C. State’s WKNC, Libero said. 

The festival’s two-day programming will take place at three Chapel Hill-Carrboro venues — The Cave, Local 506 and The PITCH.

"The lineup was designed with a staggering schedule in mind," Libero said, "so attendees will have twenty minutes to walk between venues and see as many acts as possible."

Tickets for Manifest 6 are on sale now. Attendees can purchase a two-day, all-venue pass for $35 or an $18 ticket for a single evening. Shows start at 8 p.m. on both Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23.

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