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The Loop

Rush: Why No Female Fans?

In their 2010 Documentary movie Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, the band, and several known rock icons touch on a comical topic which I am determined to solve…

Why is Rush’s audience largely male?

I decided to compare Rush to two bands who share similarities: Tool and Phish. Yet musically different, all three bands have peculiar lyrics, coupled with baffling song arrangements and complicated time signatures.

Most importantly, all three bands are known for excellent musicianship and not known for anything superficial like their sex appeal, or stage presence.

If Rush can’t get any female fans, how can Tool and Phish? I explored the bands lyrics, and stage persona to see if I could get any answers.

Tool has morbidly dark lyrics; Phish’s lyrics run the gamut from mythical stories, to goofy lyrics about an ugly pig.

Rush’s lyrics have J.R.R Tolkien references, anagrams in songs and stories of futuristic societies.

I think that Rush overly dorked themselves in the lyric department attracting the D&D playing, male fan-base. Phish came close but squeaked by and got placed in the quirky and witty lyric category.

Tool’s lyrics are downright scary. Perhaps females are drawn to Tool like the guy in high school who your dad didn’t want you to date.

Maybe it has to do with the onstage presence of the band. If females see bands live because of their looks and onstage sex appeal then obviously Rush is out. I say obviously because as great as Rush sounds live, there’s not much else going on besides exceptionally well played music. When Geddy and Alex do decide to do more than the occasionally leg kick or toe tap, they usually do some syncopated head nod that’s quite cringe-worthy.

But it’s not like Tool and Phish are running around on a walkway in the middle of the crowd like Mick Jagger or Bono.

Fishman wears a dress onstage and plays the vacuum. Phish geeks it up big time jumping around on trampolines and singing versions of songs as a barbershop quartet.

The look of Tool onstage is nothing special either. Lead singer Maynard James Keenan threw away the wigs and codpiece after the Aenima tour and now opts to be perched next to drummer Danny Carey in the background. Maynard went even further attempting to stay out of the spotlight on the Lateralus tour gyrating behind a dimly lit sheet in the back of the stage throughout the concert.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m a huge fan of gyrating behind a dimly lit sheet, but there’s a time and a place.

Realizing I wasn’t getting anywhere and starting to come off as a sexist, I decided to go right to the source.

I interviewed three female friends who have a strong knowledge of music and all three of them said the same thing. They couldn’t get past Geddy’s sopranoish, banshee-wail. One female friend described his voice as “the sound of a starving baby bird waiting for mommy to come to feed him.” Which I felt was a bit harsh, but amusing and certainly worth adding to this article.

Another friend made a good point when she said that her first Rush experience was watching the concert film, Rush: Exit Stage Left. Her first image was Geddy Lee, with his mane of hair and hook nose belting out some awkwardly high pitched lyrics about different Trees (The Trees) getting into a war and thinking to herself, “I can’t get past this dudes voice, but the story in the song isn’t helping sell the band either.”

All three female friends could care less about the sex appeal of the band that they are going to see. One girl even called me a ‘chauvinistic knucklehead,’ for thinking that played a role in why a female adult would see a band live.

So there you have it. It’s boils down to Geddy’s high octave crooning.

I guess the male; Comicon-esque crowd (before the movie industry took it over) is going to stand strong at Rush concerts. And that’s fine with me. I’d rather go see a Rush concert with buddies than play golf or go fishing.

Comments

There are 17 comments associated with this post

iluvgeddy August 13, 2010, 16:10:29

I’m a female who is, can I say, obessesed with Rush and ugh.. I hate seeing articles like this. But it’s true, the shows are mostly male but certainly not all male. However, most rock bands are not marketed towards women and indeed, I learned about Rush through another guy, not some magazine or bilboard! I also think it’s hard for women to relate to rock bands when the members themselves are all male. Many women go to pop shows and see females represented a lot more than your average classic rock band. And those with female members (Heart, for example) attract more women. As for the woman in this article, or anyone for that matter, commenting on Geddy’s shrill voice, please. He hasn’t sounded that way since the early 80’s!!

OhPlease August 13, 2010, 18:11:53

This joke is so done, and it’s really an insult to the women who have been loyal Rush fans for years.

RicBass4003 August 13, 2010, 20:10:57

Yeah it is the same thing over and over about Ged’s voice. Did they listen to one song or during one period. Get a grip. Rush does have plenty of female fans and a lot of us just love Geddy. Not only can the man play a hell of a bass guitar he can sing! He can also play keyboards, bass pedals – Most at the same time. For many of us RUSH has been the sound track of our lives – things as they should be! if you doubt me check out rushisaband.com

smsterner94 August 13, 2010, 23:27:21

I’m a 16 year old female musician, and I cannot get enough of Rush. The times have changed folks. There are TONS of female Rush fans.The only reason there aren’t more is because Rush is not a mainstream band. People who like good music find Rush, and that is gender neutral.

lotsoffemalefans! August 14, 2010, 12:12:57

Does this guy even know that the whole reason we are even talking about Rush is because a female fan, Donna Halper, discovered them in the states and got them airplay?! She’s remained a fan and personal friend to this day, loves/likes all of their output and has seen them live more times than she remembers: http://www.rushtrader.com/interviews/halper.htm Also, my gf of almost 8 years is as big of a Rush fan as I, in fact we MET on a Rush forum! And…I was a freshman in high school back in ’91 right when Roll the Bones came out. LOTS of teen girls actually liked that album, and many liked Counterparts as well. Very popular albums in high school in the early-mid 90’s, and with more than a few females (including those of the “popular” crowd). Anyone who doesn’t think a certain band or type of music isn’t liked by females OR males (I happen to like a lot of 80’s pop for instance, and a lot of female singer/songwriter groups; though I do like classic rock the best and Rush the best of all of course) is hopelessly naive and needs to get out around more people and see what they are actually listening to instead of just overgeneralizing and assuming the false stereotypes are true.

rc August 16, 2010, 05:54:15

Geddy’s voice is soooooo heart felt, exciting, interesting, quality, passionate, intelligent, and unique !! Yes, all that comes through his sound.
It IS the soundtrack to our whole life. And no lovesongs !!! Thankfully.
Look there for you answer if you must.

GirlLovesRush August 17, 2010, 08:50:51

My sister and I have been listening to Rush since 1981. My girlfriend Dian introduced us – Rush’s “Permanent Waves” was on one side of the tape, and Triumph was on the other side. I hated Rush on the first listen through, but by the second play I was permanently hooked. Lyrics, oh yes! And even Geddy’s voice – he can sing higher than I can even now! Last tour 2007, I dragged my sister away from her kids to see Rush play at the sold out Madison Square Gardens show. In three rows, we were the only women. In the bathroom, not only was there no line, there were only five of us! Oh, and it turns out the neighbor lady we asked to watch the kids would have preferred to go to the concert with us. This tour 2010, I saw them in Los Angeles and Orange County, and there were plenty of women, and plenty of women fans. Not to mention lots of families. The line for the men’s room was still longer, but I did have to wait in a short line at both venues. So I think how many girls you get at a concert depends on which coast you’re on.

Carolyn June 25, 2011, 07:20:14

I have been a Rush fan since about 1978. They were the first concert I’ve ever seen and I just saw them this past week in Los Angeles. I often wonder the same thing. My husband enjoys them, but not in the same way that I adore them. I even paid for space in my yearbook back in 1981 that says. “Rush Fan Forever”. Yes, I’m a total girl dork. I will say that a Rush concert is the only venue I’ve ever been to where there is no line for the ladies room. It’s wonderful.

cat May 17, 2012, 20:37:34

I am a woman, a HUGE Rush fan, bass player…my husband is another Rush fan, so it’s safe to say it’s our favorite band in common. I have many guy friends and fellow musicians who are Rush fans…as far as the girls I only have one who likes them. I also think Geddy is pretty hot, I’ve had the biggest crush on him for a long time.

WG October 25, 2012, 16:40:13

I Googled “Rush” and “female fans” after seeing their show in Boston last night. I’d heard that Rush shows were sausage fests, but I was still surprised at how few women were in the audience. I’m 44 and have liked Rush since high school (although I’d never made it to a show before last night). I don’t buy this theory about Geddy Lee’s voice, considering that the high-pitched screeching hasn’t hurt Robert Plant’s image. There’s nothing crude or sexist about Rush’s lyrics and they seem like genuinely nice guys. I’d hate to think that it’s because they’re not the stereotypical bad boys who burn through women on the road that they never got much female attention. I have a lot of respect for Rush – they don’t sound like anyone else, they do their own thing, they continue to grow instead of doing the same thing (unlike other bands of their vintage). I’m glad to see that they’ve got a large fan base, regardless of whether women are well-represented or not.

PPI_NH December 14, 2012, 14:17:59

Put aside the reasoning behind why there are so few female Rush fans and the fact remains that a very small percentage of women like Rush. It’s not to be taken offense to, just a simple observation that can’t be argued. Musical taste is very personal, and everyone is entitled to like who they want without having a reason.
What if you compared the argument “why are there so few african-american hockey fans?” Some jerk would come along and say “hey, I’m black, and I love hockey more than anyone- that’s racist and offensive”. But look in the crowd…

akane April 26, 2013, 01:03:30

Oh well. I’m another female Rush fan. And yes, I don’t have much in common with most other women as far as taste in music, and that’s OK. I suppose we are rare. I discovered Rush on my own. I used to listen to the radio all the time in grade school in the 70’s. Rode my bike to get a one of my first records.. Permanent Waves. I attribute this to the fact that my parents exposed me to a lot of jazz starting at a very early age. Why all the focus on Geddy? For me, it was Neil that made me a solid fan, but not a drooling teenage fan or even a fan that takes it all too seriously.. my “fandom” is based on respect. I even studied percussion, and was partially influenced by Rush (they are but one of many non-mainstream bands that I enjoy) And the lyrics… each time I hear a song again, the lyrics affect me in a different way. I still dislike generalizations about bands and their fans. For example, I also like Tool, but since so many fans and anti-fans take themselves so seriously, I don’t want to be identified with these generalizations. I just want to enjoy the music for my own personal and private reasons. Still, no worries, you did state a fact that not many women are into Rush and seem to prefer much simpler music. I wish it were not the case, I would love to see more women playing music at this level. Maybe some day.

akane April 26, 2013, 01:24:05

Ok, I admit it.. to me, Rush had (and has) more sex appeal than a lot of bands that women are “supposed to” like. We can talk about that another day, or I can let another female pick up where I left off…

Cindy May 19, 2013, 00:26:05

I like the Moving Pictures album, but thats the only one. I think most girls would agree that album was their best. I think it’s the one album that was popular among girls. I know that their music has complicated beats and cool lyrics. I think thats what the trouble is. Rush’s music is so non rhythmic to me that it makes me a little sick to my stomach. Like motion sickness. I wish it didn’t but it does. I can’t listen to it.

sugarbombs June 6, 2013, 12:25:20

Been a fan since the early 80s and I’m female. They appealed to the fantasy geek in me (i.e. “Rivendell”, “By-tor and the Snowdog”, etc.) I was in awe at how masterful they were at musical composition. I thought Geddy was a perfect fit. Can’t imagine the band without his wizard-like visage. Oh, it’s probable that the female-to-male ratio of Rush fans is low, but female fans are not nonexistent. The tendency to brand things “male” or “female” in terms of musical taste is absurd and unnecessary.

Jack August 5, 2013, 10:25:13

“All three female friends could care less about the sex appeal of the band that they are going to see. One girl even called me a ‘chauvinistic knucklehead,’ for thinking that played a role in why a female adult would see a band live.”
They have a point, which means they don’t care. If they “could care less” that means they care, but since they don’t, they couldn’t care less.
I took a girl on a date to a Rush concert and that was the last I saw of her. She said she’d heard of them, but once the concert started it was clear she hadn’t. My advice for someone in the same situation – play some Rush songs in your car with her and see if she likes them before giving her a ticket, otherwise give it someone who does. It is hard finding women who like Rush and I do care.

RushFanStories August 17, 2013, 14:53:16

Rush fans of all genders: Would you like to contribute to a forthcoming book about Rush fans? We’re coming up on Rush’s 40th anniversary. What better way to thank them for 40 years, 20 studio albums, 8 live albums, 37 music videos, 10 video albums, and 165 songs, then to tell them exactly what they’ve meant to you and how they’ve affected your life. If so, go to http://RushFanStories.com.

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