Smoky rooms filled with Jewish women mosh pitting and letting loose as the two-member ensemble of drums and keyboard blasts from the stage.
Odd sounding? Perhaps, but this scene is commonplace for Dalia Shusterman and Perl Wolfe, the two members of Bulletproof Stockings, the first (and only) female alternative-rock duo hailing from Crown Heights.
Mixing sounds from multiple influences including Radiohead, the White Stripes, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the band has been compared to the likes of Adele, Fiona Apple, and Florence and the Machine.
With that kind of clout behind them, what really sets them apart is their refusal to perform in front of men. In accordance with rabbinic tradition the duo only allows women to see them live as to not violate the prohibition of kol isha (a rabbinic ordinance barring men from hearing women sing).
Subscribers to the Chabad strain of Judaism, the two come from diverse backgrounds.
Shusterman used to tour with alternative bands before finding religion. She then got married, had four kids, and unfortunately was recently widowed.
Now working as a part time graphic designer, she sees this endeavor as a way to allow girls to let themselves go. She told the Times of Israel, “We are creating a forum where women can freely express themselves without having the male input and presence.”
Wolfe, a 26-year-old divorcee, who is a make-up artist and manages a cosmetic store in Borough Park added, “We believe there is a beauty in keeping things separate. We want to create this space for women to sing and dance and jump up and down and mosh pit… we need it. Girls need it.”
Meshing traditional themes and liturgy with new age music, the band sees itself as establishing itself in a very niche position and hopes to inspire other Jewish women to express themselves specifically through music.
Men can purchase the four tracks on a new EP “Down To The Top” as well.
“The deal is that it’s not a woman’s mitzvah not to play,” Shusterman explains, “it’s a man’s mitzvah not to listen.”
Their name, a tongue-and-cheek jab at the opaque stockings Hasidic women are known to wear, is a good sign they have a sense of humor, something they needed in the face of negative reviews and until now, limited exposure.
Armed with a strong sense of tradition and a couple of musical instruments, these rockers have been booking gigs all over New York City.
“I’m trying to channel my soul,” Wolfe said. “When I’m recording, I’m thinking, ‘Hashem (God) give[s] me the right words, the right intention, so that it comes out the right way to inspire me and the people who will hear me.’”
Clearly, relying on the religious background and community they come from is working for them.
J-Connection: Obviously the only all female Lubavitch alternative rock band in existence.