Musicians from Countries on Trump’s Travel Ban List Speak Out Ahead of Performance at ContraBanned: #MusicUnites SXSW Showcase

Khaled M.

By Tamara Syed

The South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival has always served as a melting pot of cultural movements and musical talents, but this year’s ContraBanned: #MusicUnites showcase is bound to be an especially resonant and meaningful event. The showcase will feature a slew of musicians representing the seven Muslim-majority countries banned by President Trump’s executive order, with the aim of uniting people and building bridges through music.

The stacked lineup for the March 17 show at Austin’s Palm Door includes Khaled M., a Libyan-American rapper with Chicago roots; Mamak Khadem, a world-renowned trance artist; and Syrian-American soul-funk powerhouse Bassel & the Supernaturals; Atlanta based, Somalia-bred duo Faarrow, who deliver a heavy-hitting blend of hip-hop and pop anthems; Mohsen Namjoo, known as “the Bob Dylan of Iran”; Dena El Saffar, a multi-instrumentalist with Iraqi roots; and the mind-melding electronic soundscapes of Tehran-via-London artist Ash Koosha.

Dubbed one of CNN’s “Most Interesting People,” rapper Khaled M. pointed out that the travel ban has a negative and terrifying affect on U.S.-born citizens as well as foreign nationals. “Trump’s ban affected so many more people than just non-U.S. citizens,” he told Music for Good. “That group suffers the worst of it, but your average citizen doesn’t understand the psychological torture of being in a perpetual state of anxiety and fear.”

Khaled also touched on the underlying propaganda he sees in the executive order. “The ban creates a domino effect of fear that moves on to other marginalized or immigrant communities who worry about being next, considering the established precedent,” he said. Despite this, Khaled hopes that unifying events such as these will help shed a positive light on his Libyan heritage and bring people together. “Despite being subjected to oppression that rivals any other country, Libyans continue to be amongst the most hospitable and friendly people in the world,” he said.

Mamak Khadem

Iranian-American Mamak Khadem, who blends traditional Persian poetry and vocals with cross cultural influences of Indian, Balkan and Indonesian melodies, believes the ban is history repeating itself. “It reminded me of how the Iranian students were treated here in the U.S. during the hostage crisis of 1979,” she said. “Many students were insulted, deported, battered, and threatened. It took many years to forget and forgive those days and finally call myself an Iranian-American.”

Khadem has contributed to the advancement of music on a global scale, having taught classes and workshops in the U.S., Canada, Greece and Ireland. Not surprisingly, she believes musicians play a crucial role in the world of politics. “Music offers a language that is close to people’s hearts rather than their brain,” she said. “Music offers tools to break boundaries that politics has forced on us.”

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Whole Planet Foundation Teams Up with Shani Rose & Katie Ferrara for Tour to Support Women Entrepreneurs

(L-R) Katie Ferrara & Shani Rose team up with Whole Planet Foundation for Road Less Traveled Tour

By Laura Ferreiro

While most people may not see many similarities between independent musicians and small business owners, it’s surprising just how many things they have in common. Independent musicians and entrepreneurs must both find creative ways of using their talents to establish their careers and generate income for themselves and their families, both need to promote their work to potential audiences and customers, and there’s no denying that they often encounter many obstacles along the way that they need to overcome in order to succeed.

These similarities were immediately apparent to singer-songwriters Shani Rose and Katie Ferrara, who are embarking on the Road Less Traveled Tour in partnership with Whole Planet Foundation to support their efforts to alleviate poverty by providing microloans to entrepreneurs around the world. The tour supports the Foundation’s Musicians for Microcredit program, which gives people the chance to create or expand home-based businesses and lift themselves out of poverty. “As woman entrepreneurs in the music industry, we really connected with the work Whole Planet Foundation does with women entrepreneurs around the world, helping them kick-start their dreams and fund their businesses,” Rose told Music for Good.

The tour kicks off in their hometown of Los Angeles on March 8, and will hit cities including Phoenix and Tucson, culminating in two performances at the South by Southwest Festival March 17 and 18. They will play free shows at Whole Foods Market locations in each city, bringing attention to the Musicians for Microcredit program and donating a portion of their merchandise sales to help a family access a loan.

Whole Planet Foundation was excited to help facilitate Rose and Ferrara’s Road Less Traveled tour. “Musicians, like the entrepreneurs who receive microcredit loans, are doing something they love and might need some help along the way,” said Olivia Hayden, Digital Fundraising Specialist for Whole Planet Foundation.

“Shani and Katie are thinking outside the box and perhaps opening doors for more musicians to do the same,” Hayden added. “They’re business women who want to inspire women to follow their dreams. They’re creating their own success and want to encourage other entrepreneurial women all over the world to create their own success. So we wanted to help.”

Rose said that she and Ferrara immediately liked the idea of partnering with Whole Planet Foundation after being approached by the foundation to collaborate on the Musicians for Microcredit program. “Music is a great conveyor of messages and way to let people know about things, so I thought it was a great idea for them to create this partnership,” Rose said. “I was looking for a way to volunteer and give back and do something that was bigger than me and my music, so it came at the exact right time.”

What’s more, Rose’s song “Stronger Together” seemed to embody one of the Foundation’s primary missions of working together to support one another and make each other stronger. Many of Whole Planet Foundation’s microfinance partners utilize the Grameen method of lending, where borrowers belong to solidarity groups who meet once per week to make their loan repayments, ask questions, and share business advice. Rather than trying to make it alone, these borrowers are stronger together as they are able to support each other through their weekly meetings and relationships with other entrepreneurs.

For complete Road Less Traveled tour dates, click here. To learn more about the Whole Planet Foundation, click here, and the Musicians for Microcredit program, click here.

Jack Johnson’s 2017 Tour to Support 140 Non-Profits & Champion Greening Efforts

Jack Johnson with his customized reusable water bottle. Photo: Max Tischler

By James Pleasant 

Singer-songwriter and environmental activist Jack Johnson is back on the road for the first time since 2014 for a North American summer tour, which kicks off June 17 in Chicago and makes its way to the West Coast with a stop at the Hollywood Bowl on July 16.

Johnson’s 2017 tour will support more than140 non-profits through his environmental campaign and social action network, All At Once. One of the primary aims of Johnson’s tour is to provide greener alternatives during his shows in order to lessen their impacts on the environment and the cities in which he’s performing.

Since 2007, all of Johnson’s shows have offered concert-goers free water courtesy of water refill stations in order to curb the use of disposable plastic.

In 2014, the “Banana Pancakes” singer launched the Reusable Pint Program, an initiative designed to provide fans with alternatives to plastic cups and bottles. Instead, fans can purchase stainless steel cups, and as an added bonus, those who buy the cups receive discounts on beverage refills.

In addition, Johnson is implementing many other greening efforts in his 2017 summer tour. Sustainable bio-diesel tour vehicles, recycling, composting, and eco-friendly merchandise are just some of the programs that will help lessen the tour’s impact on the environment. The tour will also source local, organic food as part of a “farm to stage” program, offer alternative transportation incentives and bike valets.

Throughout his career, Johnson has made environmental activism a top priority and uses his platform as a popular artist to make a difference. “Growing up [in Hawaii] I had a profound love for the natural world and the environment and the ocean,” Johnson told Music for Good last year.

“As I got older, I found myself in this position [as a musician] where I suddenly had the ability to gather lots of people at once.” Since then, Johnson has creatively leveraged his public platform to inform people about how they can implement positive change in their communities, and has “walked the walk,” donating 100 percent of the profits from his tours between 2008-2013 to environmental nonprofit organizations.

He also founded two nonprofits—Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, which supports charitable organizations that focus on the environment, art and music education, and Kokua Hawaii Foundation, which funds environmental education for schools in Hawaii and teaches children about health and nutrition.

To learn more about the All At Once tour and campaign and get involved, click here. For tour dates and tickets, click here.

Listen to Johnson’s new tune, “Fragments.”

Environmentally Themed Festival Features Solange, Skrillex, Future Islands and More


By Kennedi Johnson

FORM Arcosanti – a unique, environmentally sustainable music festival held in Arizona’s high desert – is being dubbed the festival of the future. Held on the grounds of Arcosanti about 65 miles north of Phoenix from May 12-14, the environmentally conscious festival reflects the values of the Arcosanti community, which are rooted in the blended idea of ecology and archeology.

The festival boasts an impressive lineup curated by indie pop band Hundred Waters and soul purveyor Moses Sumney, which features Solange, James Blake, Father John Misty, Future Islands, Skrillex, Chelsea Wolfe, Noname, Deafheaven, Tycho, Kelela, Mitski, Omar Souleyman and others.

FORM Arcosanti Festival

What’s more, environmentalist organization Pathway to Paris will lead a series of talks on environmental sustainability and accountability. Festival attendees can also view art exhibits and participate in hiking, group yoga, and other outdoor activities.

The festival’s themes of environmental awareness, social justice and creativity are geared to inspire and motivate the festivalgoers’ own environmental activism in their communities.

A group of 1,500 will be selected to attend the festival. To apply, submit a short application on the FORM website. All selected applicants will receive an Eventbrite code to obtain tickets, which include on-site camping and amenities.

Italian architect Paolo Soleri founded the Cosanti Foundation with his wife, Colly, to support his noted architectural and urban planning research. Soleri became deeply disillusioned with the urban planning of his time. He felt that the planning took no account of what the buildings, houses, and roads were being built on: the Earth. In 1970, Soleri began construction of Arcosanti to demonstrate how urban conditions could be improved while minimizing the destructive impact on the Earth. To learn more about this environmental friendly community, watch the 2012 documentary, The Vision of Paolo Soleri: Prophet in the Desert.

To learn more about the festival and apply for tickets, click here. To learn more about Arcosanti, click here.

Bandcamp Teams Up with Artists and Labels to Support the ACLU

Xiu Xiu pledge to donate 100% of Bandcamp sales to the ACLU for 4 years

By James Pleasant

More than 400 labels and artists joined Bandcamp to support millions of immigrants and refugees by donating proceeds from sales of their music on the online music store to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Music fans, record labels, and artists helped raise an overwhelming amount of money for the civil rights organization on February 3. Fans bought more than $1,000,000 worth of music in one day—550% more than the website sells on a regular Friday. Bandcamp donated 100% of its proceeds to ACLU, totaling approximately $120,000.

Artists and labels usually keep 88% of the money they earn from selling their music on Bandcamp, however many of them donated their profits from that day. SubPop, Rhymesayers, Speedy Ortiz, P.O.S., Four Tet, A Sunny Day in Glasgow, and Merge Records are among the hundreds of labels and musicians that made additional donations to the fundraiser.

Experimental rock bands Xiu Xiu and Son Lux, in particular, have pledged to donate 100 percent of their Bandcamp revenue to the ACLU for the next four years. Other bands hand-selected charities they want to support, donating their sales proceeds to Doctors Without Borders, Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations.

The fundraiser is Bandcamp’s response to President Donald Trump’s recent executive order, which closed U.S. borders to citizens and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

“[The ban] is an unequivocal moral wrong, a cynical attempt to sow division among the American people, and is in direct opposition to the principles of a country where the tenet of religious freedom is written directly into the Constitution,” said Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond in a statement on Bandcamp’s website.

“This is not who we are, and it is not what we believe in,” he added. “We at Bandcamp oppose the ban wholeheartedly, and extend our support to those whose lives have been upended.”

For a full list of artists and labels participating in this fundraiser, and to lend your support by purchasing their music, click here.

Keb’ Mo’, Ronnie Spector & Non-Profits Put Music Education Front and Center at NAMM 2017

NAMM 2017 drew record numbers to Anaheim Convention Center. Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM

By Laura Ferreiro

A record number of musicians, non-profits, music technology and equipment brands descended on NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) 2017, making it the largest in the conference’s 115-year history. Held at the Anaheim Convention Center January 19-22, NAMM brought together more than 100,000 attendees to geek out on the latest music gear, network, jam and support good causes.

In addition to upholding its reputation as a musician’s playground, NAMM 2017 also supported vital music education programs in various ways, such as providing funding and instruments for music programs in local schools, and bringing together non-profit partners to promote their work, share best practices and more. This year, a record 57 non-profits, 10 partners and 18 NAMM Foundation grantees attended the first annual series of non-profit roundtable discussions.

Keb’ Mo’ and Bernie Williams chat with NAMM Foundation Executive Director Mary Luehrsen

What’s more, the NAMM Foundation’s second annual Grand Rally for Music Education took place Saturday, January 21, featuring Keb’ Mo’ and Bernie Williams. Speaking with NAMM Foundation Executive Director Mary Luehrsen, Keb’ Mo’ talked about the importance of simply showing up and setting a good example for the kids he mentors at the Turnaround Arts School where he teaches.

“What do I do? I show up,” Keb’ Mo told the audience. “When you see someone doing something, it’s profound without you even realizing it.”

He encouraged anyone with a passion for music to take action. “While we’re waiting for politicians to make these music programs, we can do it ourselves in our own towns,” he said. “There’s instruments sitting in the back of pawn shops that you can fill music classes with.”

Meanwhile, renowned musical accessories manufacturer D’Addario & Co. attended NAMM not only to show off their latest guitar strings, but also to promote the D’Addario Foundation, which has worked for 30 years to bring access to quality music education programs to children from all walks of life.

“Our main goal is to support grassroots, community-based programs, and ensure that as many communities as possible have access to music education,” said Suzanne D’Addario Brouder, D’Addario Foundation Director. D’Addario & Co. gives 10 percent of its net profits each year to more than 200 grassroots music programs around the world through the Foundation.

Citing decreased high school drop out rates and higher college attendance rates among students who participate in D’Addario-Foundation-funded programs, Brouder explained, “We’re using music as a catalyst for social change.”

Ronnie Spector performs at NAMM show celebrating 20th anniversary of John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM

What’s more, long-time NAMM attendee The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus celebrated its 20th anniversary at the conference this year with an Imagine Party on Saturday night featuring veteran R&B group Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes, and a special introduction by Jackson Browne. They also offered tours of the John Lennon Bus, where students have access to state-of-the art recording and production equipment, attend workshops, and are offered the opportunity to produce their own music and videos. To the delight of those aboard the bus that afternoon, Spector was there to teach the kids a few lessons!

Beyonce, Chance the Rapper & Demi Lovato Make List of Most Charitable Stars

Beyonce tops list of most charitable celebrities in 2016

By Kennedi Johnson

Although acts of kindness didn’t always make headlines in 2016, the Celebs Gone Good list reminds us that many artists devoted a large portion of their time to raising funds and awareness for people in need. Online social justice campaign platform,, ranked celebrities who have used their public platform to affect positive in its annual Celebs Gone Good list.

Several renowned musicians made the list, with Beyonce claiming the top spot for her work on gender equity issues, supporting black women in popular culture, raising money for those affected by the Flint Water Crisis, and for organizing a benefit concert to support the Robin Hood Foundation, a non-profit that fights poverty in New York City.

Hamilton writer, composer, and star Lin-Manuel Miranda ranked second on the list for his participation in the “Love Make the World Go Round” musical tribute for the victims and families of the 2016 Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida. Moreover, Miranda has also helped secure funds for Planned Parenthood.

Demi Lovato

Chance the Rapper also made the list for his work urging fans to register to vote, and for donating to the homeless population of Chicago, as did Demi Lovato for using her public platform to talk openly about mental illness and for raising awareness of sexual assault and bullying issues.

Other important causes the celebrities on the Celebs Gone Good list supported include HIV/AIDS awareness, protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, early childhood education programs, increased support of marginalized people, and flood relief efforts in Louisiana.

Here’s a complete list of celebrities who landed on the Celebs Gone Good list:

1. Beyoncé, 2. Lin-Manuel Miranda, 3. Taylor Swift, 4. Demi Lovato, 5. Shailene Woodley, 6. John Cena, 7. Miley Cyrus, 8. Lady Gaga, 9. Zendaya, 10. Jesse Williams, 11. Gina Rodriguez, 12. Chance the Rapper, 13. Tyler Oakley, 14. Serena Williams, 15. Yara Shahidi, 16. Justin Bieber, 17. Shawn Mendes, 18. Misha Collins, 19. Nyle Dimarco, 20. Aziz Anasari.

Click here to read the individual profiles of the celebrities on the list, and click here to learn more about

Diplo, OG Maco & More Throw Down at ‘LA Gives Back’ Charity Event for Los Angeles Homeless

Diplo spins tunes at LA Gives Back charity event. Photo: Jennica Mae Photography

by Tamara Syed

A benefit show unlike typical glitzy charity events, LA Gives Back rocked Los Angeles with surprise performances by Diplo and OG Maco on December 21.

Los Angeles-based record label and media company IHEARTCOMIX hosted the benefit, bringing together several top promoters in LA all under one roof, including Brownies & Lemonade, HAM on Everything, Late Night Laggers, Space Yacht, Emo Nite, Free Grilled Cheese, and Restless Nites.

Although the lineup was kept under wraps, the event sold out a few hours before doors opened, with 100% of the proceeds going to three local charities. The show raised more than $50K for Casa Libre, which provides support to displaced immigrants and refugees; My Friend’s Place, which supports the homeless youth population in LA with career services, pet care, healthy food and more; and Showers of Hope, which brings mobile showers to homeless communities.

Despite the pouring rain, attendees waited patiently in a line that wrapped around the entire exterior of Union Nightclub in downtown Los Angeles, which was converted into a six-room dance fest spanning a variety of genres, with each room containing its own microcosm of spectacle and talent.

Diplo surprised the crowd with a late-night set as hundreds of fans rushed the doors and security struggled to contain the determined mob of partiers. Spinning Fatman Scoop’s “Be Faithful” with Flosstradamus’ “Mosh Pit,” the skilled DJ persuaded even the most reserved wallflowers to join the rocking and swaying of the crowd.

Crowd gets into the charity spirit at LA Gives Back. Photo: Jennica Mae Photography

Meanwhile, the nostalgic throwback sets of Emo Nite DJs echoed to a packed crowd who sang along to nearly every word of pop punk’s past. Upstairs past the foam machine and balloons, the next floor housed the Late Night Laggers crew. Making use of every open space, the event hosted opposing sounds and genres just a few steps away from each other.

Tucked along the wall was a merch table of promotional artwork, with all proceeds going towards Monday Night Mission, an organization dedicated to feeding LA’s homeless population on Skid Row.

The main stage paired Brownies & Lemonade with HAM on Everything and featured electronic and hip-hop acts that shook the room with their booming sounds. Swizzymack mixed Drake songs with heart-pounding electronic beats, leading into a gritty performance by OG Maco and the effortless cool of Father.

Mike Parvizi of Penthouse Penthouse skillfully set the tone with his subdued tracks, each one more surprising than the next. A native Los Angeleno, Parvizi shared his thoughts on the current state of homelessness in his hometown.

“Every night there are over 50,000 displaced citizens in Los Angeles due to misappropriated funds and neglect,” Parvizi told Music for Good. “Anytime that we could come together to create awareness and raise funds – it’s a beautiful thing! It should be [done] year round.”

Amidst the chaos and overwhelming crowds, the pride for Los Angeles was palpable, spanning across age groups and genres of music, ethnicities and personalities, all coming together for a great cause.

Tegan and Sara Launch Foundation to Benefit LGBTQ Community

By Kennedi Johnson

Our country has managed to progress in a number of civil and human rights issues, however, there is still plenty of work to be done in the protection of marginalized citizens. Whether it’s protecting the rights of women, the homeless, indigenous people, immigrants, or people of color, there are numerous organizations working to ensure that all are treated fairly and equally.

Although there are activists and organizers who make it their life’s work to fight injustice and inequality, there are still marginalized groups of people in need. As a result, indie-pop twin sister duo Tegan and Sara have launched a foundation aimed to fight for the rights of LGBTQ girls and women.

The Tegan and Sara Foundation came into existence on Monday December 19, when the Quin sisters made an announcement on their website. They were on tour for their most recent album, Love You to Death, when they were inspired to begin an organization to fight for the economic, health and welfare of LGBTQ girls and women. During the tour, the sisters spent time reading fan letters and talking with them in person, meeting with researchers and nonprofits, and holding discussions with LGBTQ rights activists and legislators.

Their experience with people who were knowledgeable about LGBTQ issues left them with a new understanding of the issues this community faces every day. “We learned that the lack of federal funding for LGBTQ services, limited training for doctors about the needs of their LGBTQ patients, and severe workplace discrimination are disproportionately affecting women,” wrote Tegan and Sara in an open letter to fans.

“Most importantly, we learned that LGBTQ women and girls are feeling overwhelmingly rejected and left behind.” In addition to facing discrimination and inadequate healthcare, they also found that LGBTQ women are more likely to face poverty, while LGBTQ women of color and transgender women are more likely to come up against higher levels of discrimination due to racism and transphobia.

Tegan and Sara felt especially compelled to launch this foundation in the midst of an incoming administration that has promised to repress the rights of the LGBTQ community.

Read the full letter from Tegan and Sara here. Learn more about the Tegan and Sara Foundation here.

GIRLSCHOOL Founder Dishes on Festival with Deap Vally, Chelsea Wolfe & More Benefiting Girls Rock Camp

Deap Vally

By Tamara Syed

Move over boys — GIRLSCHOOL is setting the stage for a music festival packed to the brim with talented women who really rock.

The Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles will play host to GIRLSCHOOL’s second annual women-fronted festival January 27-29, with proceeds benefitting the Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls LA.

GIRLSCHOOL is an all-female led collective founded by musician Anna Bulbrook (Airborne Toxic Event/Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros/The Bulls) in response to the underwhelming amount of women in the alternative music industry.

“When the band (Airborne Toxic Event) first took off, I was just happy to be living the dream, if you will — but over 10 years, I became increasingly conscious of being one of very few women on stage in the alternative rock world,” Bulbrook told Music for Good. “It got a bit lonely, to be honest,” .

GIRLSCHOOL founder Anna Bulbrook

“Then two summers ago, I visited Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls LA, an all-female utopia that uses rock’ n’ roll as a foil to create a loving, girl-positive community. I had an experience so profoundly positive that it rewired my brain. I realized what I had been missing all the years I’d spent touring in this very male-dominated space,” she explained. “I like men and all, but it’s like the first time a kid tastes birthday cake — you don’t think about what you’ve been missing until you finally taste it.”

Bulbrook’s inspiration led to the creation of GIRLSCHOOL as an all-women fronted residency at a local club. “It sounds quaint to me today, but at the time, the idea felt a little risky. However, the response was so overwhelmingly positive that I realized that I wasn’t the only person hungry for a community like this to exist,” she said.

As the residency took on more artists, the GIRLSCHOOL collective began to take form and the original members put together its first three-day festival last year. “Now the community has grown to include more and more amazing women from across the music industry who volunteer for GIRLSCHOOL because they care about creating positive change, music, and supporting girls,” Bulbrook said.

This year’s festival features immense talent including Chelsea Wolfe, The Bird and The Bee, Deap Vally and many more female-led bands and artists. “I couldn’t be prouder of this year’s lineup,” Bulbrook said. “I love every single artist for a different reason, and I can’t wait to see everyone deliver onstage.”å

The three-day festival will also feature panel discussions and workshops led by, NBC Universal, Noisey and many other leaders paving the way for women in the music industry. “I can’t wait to hear what leaders and thinkers from different vantage points within the music space have to say,” Bulbrook said. “There is power in assembling so many brains — and so many women — in one space.”

Bulbrook and GIRLSCHOOL’s mission is simple: to create a girl-positive community in the world of rock. “I’d like girls who come to GIRLSCHOOL to see a utopia where a diverse community comes together around the revolutionary idea that women can be gifted, too,” she said.

“I’d like girls to see that a happy and respectful community that includes people of all genders can come together to celebrate women’s artistry, listen to women’s voices, and have a really good time at a f–ing great music festival,” she continued.

Proceeds from the festival go towards Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls LA, a non-profit that sets out to empower girls through music education. It strives to nurture self-esteem and self-expression in girls and foster connections among female musicians.

Tickets to the festival can be purchased here. Also, Lyft will donate $10 to Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls LA for every new user who takes their first ride using the code GIRLSROCK.

Check out highlights from last year’s GIRLSCHOOL Festival.