War on Women's Shawna Potter talks Riot Fest, Feminism & the Future

War on Women's Shawna Potter

Shawna Potter of War on WomenOne of the stand-out performances from this year’s edition of Riot Fest Chicago, which took place in Douglas Park on Sept. 16-18, came from Baltimore feminist rockers War On Women. With socially conscious lyrics, blazing guitar riffs, pounding drums and an infectious energy that makes you want to change the world, War On Women are poised to conquer the male-dominated music industry one festival at a time. Their debut, self-titled album dropped in 2015, and the band has been relentlessly touring – and spreading their blistering message of equality – ever since.

War On Women’s lead singer, Shawna Potter, left everything she’s got and more on the Rebel Stage at Riot Fest – including a Donald Trump effigy that she smashed to bits. We got a chance to catch up with Potter about the group’s Riot Fest experience, feminism and what’s coming up next for the Baltimore bad asses.


LF: Can you tell Rebellious Magazine readers who may not be familiar with your music what War on Women is all about?
SP: Basically, feminist hardcore music.

What feminist issues are you guys currently incorporating into your songs and your shows?
A lot of our songs are about street harassment and about reproductive rights, but we have songs about rape culture and the gender wage gap and second wave feminism, being anti-trans – what we call rad femmes or TERFs [Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists] – f*ck them. Just general feminist shit. The thing with feminism is it touches so many subjects that it’s very – not easy to write about it – but you can almost write about anything and feminism will inform how you feel about it.

What is War On Women working on now, following your Riot Fest performance?
We have a couple more festivals this year and then hopefully we will be taking a big break. We’ve been touring really, really consistently for the last two years since our album came out, so we’re hoping to write another record soon.

What is a band or artist that you would recommend to fans of War on Women?
I would hope that anybody who knows who we are would already know who G.L.O.S.S. is, but if they don’t I would say check out G.L.O.S.S.

During your Riot Fest set, you had mentioned that you’d been at the festival all weekend. Who was your favorite performance?
Oh God, I mean, Refused, I guess. We played some shows with them before and they’re lovely, lovely people. They’re so nice, and to be able to see them when I didn’t have to play that day – to be able to just relax and have a beer and just watch them – whoa. So good, so good!

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Check out War On Women’s eponymous full-length debut on BandCamp and follow them on Facebook to stay up to date with the latest news and tour announcements. Click here to read our
full Riot Fest Rebelles recap. Can’t wait ’til next year!

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Laurie Fanelli is a Chicago-based writer and photographer who specializes in live entertainment coverage. She is at home at major music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and, of course, Lollapalooza and Riot Fest. She loves chatting with hilarious comedians and has interviewed the likes of Maria Bamford, Paula Poundstone and Tracy Morgan, to name a few. She has photographed tons of great bands/musicians – from every genre – including Rob Zombie, Florence and the Machine, Alabama Shakes, Neil Young, Shania Twain, Pitbull, Pierce the Veil, Kendrick Lamar, Patti Smith and many, many more. When not writing or shooting shows, Laurie loves to spend her free time training for marathons and exploring the city of Chicago. She is a longtime vegetarian and animal advocate who likes to cook healthy, delicious meals that everyone can enjoy. For more information or to contact Laurie, head over to www.lauriefanelli.com.

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