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 Andrew McMillen

An open letter to Stonefield

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Dear Stonefield,

I recently interviewed you for the Australian music website Mess+Noise. I prepared for the interview just as I’ve done for many others: by listening to your music, by studying your past published interviews, and by dipping into online comments made about you. Having seen you play live, at the One Movement For Music festival in Perth last October, I had an inkling of how people would respond to the published interview. As a band of young girls, your image is naïve and innocent. I don’t believe that this is an act, Stonefield: I think this is just who you are.

In Perth, you got up on stage before a crowd of hundreds, under a tent in the middle of the day, and performed well. You stayed strong throughout your allotted half-hour. There was a fair amount of shoe-gazing going on among your younger members, but I chalked that up to nerves more than anything else. In that moment, you were an ambitious group of young women playing a game controlled by men. The vast majority of guest speakers at the music industry conference that had taken place in nearby hotels were male. The festival line-up was stacked in favour of men, too. In that environment, you were outsiders, in every sense of the word. Yet you played as if you belonged. That sense of self-confidence won you a spot on the line-up of this year’s Glastonbury Festival, in the UK, as a direct result of your strong performance at One Movement.

As I watched you play, Stonefield, I took in the crowd around me. Toward the front – up against the barrier – were groups of males in their 20s and 30s, beers in hand, cheering and leering at you. You probably noticed them. The men in attendance outnumbered females by a considerable margin. You probably noticed this, too. This was disconcerting, Stonefield. Over those five days in Perth, I saw dozens of male bands play, and few of them provoked more than appreciative applause between songs. But when you played, the crowd reception went far beyond respect for your musical talent. All around me, men were undressing you with their eyes.

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