Manifest Music Festival is coming to Chapel Hill for its third year in a row from Oct. 19 to 20. Manifest III, like its predecessors, is set apart from other local music festivals because it only features bands with members who identify as femme, transgender or non-binary.
“We wanted to build the first truly inclusive music festival, so we looked to bands that had women or non-binary, trans artists and we just booked an entire festival with people like that,” Erika Libero, founder of Manifest and member of local band Bangzz, said. “We were trying to break the idea of what a rock star is.”
Created by Libero and Sarah Shook, Manifest Music Festival tackles under-representation in the music industry by giving a platform to marginalized groups to showcase their musical talents.
“There’s a lot of good music coming from women these days — there’s a lot of great music coming from trans people too,” Melissa Swingle, co-owner of The Cave, said. “And this is just to encourage that in a safe environment.”
Held at three different venues in downtown Chapel Hill — Local 506, Nightlight and The Cave — during the two-day event, Manifest III offers a wide variety of music with 25 bands showcasing their diversity and boldness. Libero said the genre was not the sole focus when creating the lineup, with bands ranging from punk, country, experimental and rock.
“It’s about owning your genre and your space and being true to your voice,” Libero said. “I’m really happy with the lineup.”
Many of the musicians and bands are also local to the Triangle.
“We have some really big locals this year like H.C. McEntire and the Loamlands,” Libero said.
Not only does Manifest III offer eclectic, wild music of all kinds, but Libero said this festival is also all about the inclusivity of everyone. The Manifest III mission is to create a space where no racism, sexism, homophobia or transphobia is allowed.
“It’s really nice to be involved with a fest that really takes the time and energy to really make sure that representation is there,” said Emily Ferrara, vocalist and bassist for Post Pink, a band performing at Manifest III. “I have a lot of respect for that.”
Swingle and Libero said that they want Manifest to show that women and marginalized groups are as capable at producing music and performing as non-minority groups.
“I think today, right now, with everything that is going on politically, it's real important for women to get together, and to include our trans people as well and to show we stand together,” Swingle said. “This isn’t necessarily about politics, but it’s about encouraging music no matter who you are and in a safe way.”