Distressed Damsels, a local Lincoln band, will open a three-band performance this week at the Bourbon Theater. The September 1 broadcast will feature Kelsey Magnuson and Tyranny Bell after the Distressed Damsels set.
Distressed Damsels are a six-member indie rock band, including guitarist Jack Pressler, bassist Seth Beem, drummer Canyon Skare, keytarist Elizabeth Rathe, guitarist and songwriter Gage Shiveley, and frontman and vocalist CJ Guenter. Each member comes from a variety of backgrounds and many have several other projects within the local music scene. According to Guenter, Distressed Damsels emerged at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic after seeing a performance by their teammate, Shiveley.
“I saw him perform at a show once, and I was like, ‘Oh, that sounds like so much fun,'” Guenter said. “I’ve always wanted to be part of a band, but I never made the effort to think I could. Finally, I posted an Instagram post saying that if anyone wanted to start a band, I wanted to sing in a band.
Guenter said he received a message from Shiveley on Instagram in March 2020. They said that starting a group at the start of the pandemic seemed like a terrible time at first, but it ended up working for them in the long run.
“It gave us a lot of time to be able to write and set things up and really find our sound, which we’re obviously still finding,” Guenter said.
Having been a band for about three years now with only one year of performance under their belt, the band has evolved tremendously in those three years. However, Guenter said one of their main goals right now as a band is to establish a distinct sound.
According to Shiveley, the group found their independent identity with the first song he wrote for the group, “Midwest Dreams”, and their songs have followed this trend ever since. Now, Guenter said the group hopes to shift gears to become a hardcore girl rock band with shoegaze inspiration. They said their most recent singles, “Clean” and “Tacks”, helped start this transition.
“Right now, we’ve definitely stuck with softer indie songs,” Guenter said. “But I think our two new singles that have come out have been a slow stint of getting heavier, but it’s definitely not there. I think we really want to be loud and bring people [to] Dance.”
Shiveley added that the group aspires to be both fun and emotionally intelligent. Guenter said they aim to spread love and acceptance wherever they can. They also said that as a romantic couple, they wrote songs for the group that relate to their current and past romantic experiences. They used their song “Clean” as an example of this, saying it’s an ode to taking care of yourself and your partner after going through trauma.
“This song is really about how [Shiveley] and I can set each other up for a successful sex life and a healthy relationship despite each of our own struggles that we’ve been through,” Guenter said.
Their shared desire to preach acceptance as a group will shine through at their upcoming concert, open to all ages. Guenter explained that there has recently been a movement in the local music scene to push for more shows for all ages, as many are over 21, which restricts audiences. Shiveley said he hopes the all-ages shows will attract more audiences.
“People making music in Lincoln need as many people as possible,” Shiveley said. “There are a lot of people in this town. And everybody just wants that musical medium, you know?
Tickets for this week’s show at the Bourbon Theater will be $10 for general admission with a minor rate of $2 at the door. The show will start at 9 p.m. and doors will open at 8 p.m.
Shiveley encourages everyone to come see the show on Thursday. He said that by being the first band on stage, they have the privilege of energizing the audience and setting a precedent for the rest of the evening.
“We’re going to have fun, first and foremost,” Shiveley said. “We are going to dance a lot at the start. When they put us up front, we’re going to set a precedent that it’s going to be a dance party.