Louisville Magazine

SEP 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 9.18 81 Ledford were in middle school. Forester was right up front and center, rocking out. MEAT! FOR BREAKFAST! the singer yelled, his voice a meat grinder itself, and the guitar came in. MEAT! FOR LUNCH! MEAT! FOR DINNER!!! And then Forester felt some kind of impact on her face. Her body took a few steps backward of its own accord. So here's what happened: e singer straight up football-kicked a SM57 microphone — not one with a softer round top, more like a hard tube — that had been boosting a guitar amp. e mic went right into Forester's eye. Her whole face was full of blood. Ledford thought Forester was holding her eye into her head. "I literally was like, Rae's blind, and she's gonna have this wicked eye patch for the rest of our career — some, like, David Bowie eye patch," Ledford says. "Definitely could have gotten stitches," Forester says. Ledford asked the bartender for a first-aid kit, and he ended up soaking a rag in vodka — this is how Forester tells it — and slapping it on her face. "Karen," Forester said, "we have to go to Walgreens." Ledford thought a hospital would have been more appropriate, but Forester had a lot of experience doctoring herself — she once drained her purple, infected finger with a knife. Picture it: Forester running, dripping blood through this Walgreens, maybe 11:00 at night, ripping bandages off the shelves like a medically trained wolverine and scrambling toward the bathroom. She cleaned herself up, applied some liquid stitches that trapped a bit of blood underneath, and then covered her eye with a wrap around her head. (Not quite Bowie, but an eye patch after all.) She handed Ledford all the trash and asked her to go pay for it. GRLwood went back to play the show. "Wow, you guys are so punk rock!" a fan told them. But it wasn't exactly that. "I'm angry, and I'm broke," Forester says. "I need the money." e top of her head was numb for at least a week. ey're hoping for a little less gore at the show tonight. e car is as full as a Nascar dad on anksgiving: two amps and a briefcase full of merch in the back driver's-side and middle seats, drums and a guitar in the back. Oh, and the dogs. Seven-year-old Yuxa, a big black bean with a blondish muzzle and paws — the "sweet old lady" Forester rescued as a puppy from a putrid box full of waste and bugs on the side of a road in Mexico — assumes her position on Forester's lap like a judge near retirement settling into court. (It's pronounced like yucca, but Forester spells it with an x because, she says, "at's hip.") Toddler Pacho, who looks like a lankier, darker German shepherd, is not so well-trained just yet. He squirms up from the back seat to join them, sprawling on top of the larger dog. "Dog stack!" Forester cries. "Can I charge my phone? I'm at — well, I don't know what I'm at, 'cause I don't use percents, 'cause I'm chaotic evil." Ledford — who, for the record, is chaotic good — eats out most of the time but today has taken the initiative to make herself a turkey, Swiss and ketchup sandwich, which she deposits on a paper plate on the dash. "You know blood-alcohol level? With Karen, it's like that with ketchup," Forester says. As for her, she hasn't eaten today, so a stop at McNoldo's — her word for McDonald's — will be in the near future. ey ramp onto the highway, headed toward Cincinnati. e dogs pant happily. Ledford hits the gas, and GRLwood picks up speed. b Everyone on the scene in Louisville knows GRLwood is blowing up. e two-piece — Ledford on drums, Forester on guitar and vocals — has been called a screamo band and a punk band and a pop-punk-screamo band, though their personal preference when I met them was "lesbian genderfuck feminist" band, or, as Ledford put it to one interviewer: "It's like if two lesbians got really angry, and one of them knew how to play drums and the other knew how to play guitar." Ledford effing lays it down and Forester tears it back up, screaming Slipknot out of the water before breaking effortlessly into a mock-operatic mezzo- soprano, whining through her nose and belting from the golden smelter of her gut, her range somewhere between Metallica's bass and Mariah Carey's whistle voice. It's heady punk that gets their crowds to bounce around on each other like fleas in a jar in a pot of boiling water. NPR called GRLwood "hooky, self-deprecating, surf-inspired." Billboard.com said GRLwood "confronts heteronormativity and conventions of gender expression alongside abrasive musicality." ey filmed a music video for their song "Bisexual," a series of hard cuts from a sweat-slinging GRLwood house show, ending with someone resting a bouquet of tasseled fabric phalluses on Forester's forehead. It all happened so quick. It was only last August when they started playing together. One of Ledford's co-workers at Maryhurst, which works with abused kids (Ledford had a job there for a short time), had told her about this girl who drew a beard on her face, played guitar and did something weird with her feet, playing a bass drum and a tambourine or something. Ledford saw her playing out somewhere one night and got this feeling. A couple days later, they were jamming, so in sync they didn't want to stop. ey went at it for four or five hours a day that first week. Ledford had played in bands of both the rock and marching varieties, but she'd spent most of her life marooned out in E-Town or nearby Vine Grove, where there weren't exactly scores of shows. So playing one? at was a relatively new adventure. ey crammed into the Surface Noise record shop on Baxter Avenue for their first, and then — well, Forester explains it by snapping her fingers rapid-fire: snap, snap, snap, snap, snap. Kaiju, Zanzabar, the Cure Lounge, Spinelli's, Lexington, Cincinnati, Bowling Green, a live spot for LEO. Now they're averaging several shows a week some months, and they're planning their first real-deal tour, with dates in New York and Colorado. (e week this story goes to print, they have a rooftop show in NYC.) Ledford got to quit her job at Qdoba, though certain questions — white or wheat tortilla? black or brown beans? — still haunt her dreams. e hard copy of their first album, 11-track Daddy, drops Sept. 1. eir music is now their livelihood. GRLwood was at the Cure (R.I.P.) when Gill Holland, the NuLu mastermind and owner of sonaBLAST! Records, first saw them. He didn't leave his kids at home and go out late on a Sunday night on a whim — a friend had told him, "Gill, the best band in Louisville is GRLwood." Holland was

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