September 26, 2013 at 6:00 am EST | by Joey DiGuglielmo
Back for round seven
The Shondes, Allison Miller, Elijah Oberman, Louisa Rachel Solomon, Fureigh, music, gay news, Washington Blade, Phasefest

The Shondes are, from left, Allison Miller, Elijah Oberman, Louisa Rachel Solomon and Fureigh. (Photo by Frank Stefanko; courtesy the band).

PhaseFest Queer Music Festival

Phase 1 Lounge

525 8th Street, S.E.

Friday at 7 p.m.

$15 at the door

Saturday at 7 p.m.

$25 at the door

No presale

21 and up

Phase 1 manager Angela Lombardi is her usual self-deprecating self when it comes to the bar she runs.

Despite its historic significance, the original Phase 1 — the oldest continually operating lesbian bar in the country — inspires Lombardi to call it “our little lesbian dive bar.” At the helm for nearly a decade now, she’s gearing up for this weekend’s seventh annual PhaseFest Queer Music Festival, which she says — despite the hard work — is “my favorite time of year.”

Friday night, starting at 7, The Shondes, Glitter Lust, The Coolots, D.C. Kings, Freeform Radio, Company Calls and Tiik W/ Guts will perform. On Saturday, Belladonna, Pushovers, Sexual Side Effects, Jette Kelly, Frankie & Betty, Michelle Raymond Band and Lacy Liszt will play. Guitar legend Kaki King, whom the Blade interviewed in April when she was here for a Howard show, headlines.

PhaseFest — mostly through Lombardi’s persistence — has made a name for itself among queer musicians despite its humble origins.

“We’re pretty fortunate,” Lombardi says. “We’ve worked with so many headliners over the years. Sometimes they come with these insane managers or insane contracts and riders that call for this and that, dressing rooms for everybody. I’m like, ‘Uhhh, yeah. We have a basement.’ But we’ve worked with some really cool artists and some of them have made some real sacrifices from what they’re used to come play for us. Hopefully what we lack in amenities, we make up for in experience. It shows in how many of them come back year after year. It’s really a great thing to be a part of, from the musicians’ standpoint as well.”

Lombardi says this year’s lineup is about half D.C.-based bands versus half from other places. She says “pretty much” every act has performed either at PhaseFest previously or at the Phase some other time. Most years, about 800 attendees see the shows over the course of the weekend. All the bands are either partially or totally LGBT.

Louisa Rachel Solomon, lead singer and bassist for the New York-based Shondes, can’t remember if they’ve played Phase twice or three times previously. The band just put out its new album “The Garden” last week and their set tonight will be their first since the album dropped. It will be for sale in CD, vinyl and digital format at the show. Solomon calls it a “mix of almost an ‘80s-type rock vibe combined with punkier energy.”

“It’s such a cool place for us,” Solomon says during a phone chat this week. “It’s small, homey and the crew is amazing and lovable. They’re some of my favorite bartenders in the country. We’ll keep coming back as long as they let us.”

Solomon says her band “is comprised of people of various genders and sexual orientations” and that queer sensibility is one of the band’s hallmarks.

“We’re heavily rooted in the queer community,” she says.

Nathalie Vega is the lead singer of D.C.-based band Company Calls and she also plays bass. Company Calls is an all-lesbian band that started playing last September. They made their live debut at last year’s PhaseFest.

“We had such a great experience there last year,” she says. “A lot of doors opened for us just from playing at PhaseFest.”

Vega calls Company Calls’ music a “mix of influences from pop to punk to folk to indie-alternative.”

She says PhaseFest is important because it “gives us a musical community.”

“There are lots of place you can go have a drink, but this gives us both a lesbian and musical community as well,” she says.

Lombardi agrees.

“We’re like lesbian ‘Cheers,’” she says.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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