Crescent Ballroom hosts punk rock event for reproductive rights

When Echo Breen learned of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established the constitutional right to abortion, she knew she had to find a way to put what she felt into action.

“My heart was hurting. My stomach was hurting. I felt really depressed. I wanted to help but I wasn’t sure how,” said Breen, who leads a Valley-based post-hardcore band called Bite the Hand.

She was never good at words, she says, just actions. And she knew she had a platform through her music. So she started making calls to rally other women on the local scene to join her in organizing a benefit for reproductive rights.

Crush the patriarchy! will take place on Saturday, July 9 at the Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix.

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“The only way things change is through action”

“I remember going out one morning,” Breen said. “I had my coffee and had a long talk with my husband about the only way to change things is through action.”

First, she put it ahead of her bandmates, who Breen says have always been very supportive of women’s rights. Then she reached out to Crescent Ballroom.

As a former employee, Breen already had a good rapport with people who book the downtown Phoenix venue, and she noticed there was nothing on the schedule for Saturday, July 9, yet.

“I said, ‘What do you think if we did a show about reproductive rights, got everyone together to support the cause, and let people know?

“They were absolutely thrilled to do this,” she said.

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Who will play Smash the Patriarchy!?

Echo Breen with his bandmates in Bite the Hand.

They went through a bunch of different names for the event before landing on the title.

“There were Voices for Choices and some inappropriate names that we thought were funny, but they didn’t really hit the mark,” she said.

“It was Angela from Crescent who was actually, was like, ‘Yo, I’m just gonna call her Smash the Patriarchy!’ I thought it was very appropriate. Very punk rock. It’s kind of a punk rock show. Most girl groups are punk.

In addition to Bite the Hand, the lineup she has assembled includes fellow female-fronted artists Pleasure Cult, Wallace Hound, Veronica Everheart and Lilac Cadillac.

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Playing for change is nothing new to Bite the Hand

For Breen, the battle for abortion rights is not a red or blue thing. It’s more personal than that.

“I have had an abortion,” she said.

“And this choice for me was so important. My financial situation is not the best and I have a lot of mental health problems. Do I want to give birth to someone? Or do I want to first make sure I’m okay? It’s important for women to have choices.”

While the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade, she said women “feel a little less than human right now.”

This isn’t the first time Breen and Bite the Hand have stood up for what they believe in. Last year, they donated a portion of proceeds from their shows to women’s shelters in Arizona.

During the pandemic, their donation-based livestreams on Twitch have raised more than $500 for employees of local music venues forced to close for social distancing.

But it’s the biggest undertaking for Breen and his bandmates so far.

“It’s just really important to me to be a woman in a male-dominated industry, especially rock ‘n’ roll,” she said. “I want to have a voice and I want the bands that play too, all of them made up of women, to have a voice too.”

All proceeds from the benefit will go to the Arizona Abortion Fund.

“What the Arizona Abortion Fund does is it gives resources to clients who need financial assistance for abortion, resources for therapy afterwards, and then if someone comes from out of state, it will also provide resources and funding,” Breen explained.

“So it’s just overall I think a good organization to have on board and to be recognised, they’ve been doing that for a while now. So it’s nothing new. I just think they’ve need a little extra help right now. I want them to stay afloat as long as they can.”

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A space where everyone can express themselves

The stage behind the bands will be decorated with artwork.

“I collect art not just from women, but from supporters,” Breen said. “I wanted everyone to have a voice without necessarily being on stage. So their contribution to that, insofar as they feel, artistically, I want it to be showcased.”

Anyone interested in contributing to the event can contact Breen via Instagram at @ziaxqueen.

“That’s how everyone contacted me, because I posted on TikTok and it went viral,” she said. “TikTok is crazy. It’s just a unique form of social media that I’m still adapting to. I just put my location in Phoenix. And now I’ve had over 16,000 views, over 200 comments and 200 shares, and everyone reached It’s been amazing.

Representatives from the Abortion Fund of Arizona will stand between the groups to speak.

“They will communicate with the public about what they are doing, and maybe some steps to take to keep our rights,” Breen said.

She hopes this event will provide an opportunity for protesters to come together in a safe space and reflect on how they feel.

“Right now, I’m not going to lie, it’s really hot,” Breen said. “When we’re protesting downtown, it’s really hot, but we’re doing it. And it gives everyone a cool place to maybe not scream for a second and have important discussions about their feelings, maybe share their stories.”

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Crush the patriarchy!

With: Pleasure Cult, Wallace Hound, Bite the Hand, Veronica Everheart and Lilac Cadillac.

When: 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 9.

Where: Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix.

Admission: $10.

Details: 602-716-2222, crescentphx.com.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-4495. Follow him on Twitter @EdMasley.

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About Joan J. Hernandez

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