#womencrush music launches in Chicago

Ava Lake

Ava Lake

#womencrush music will host its inaugural Chicago event with a female music showcase Saturday, Jan. 27, at the HVAC Pub in Wrigleyville. On the bill: Baby Money & The Down Payments, The Just Luckies, Ava Lake, and Shi La Rosa.

#womencrush is an organization dedicated to empowering young female artists through concert bookings, monthly workshops, networking opportunities, and, according to Chicago Host Leader Heather Nickles, “anything that the women out there think they need the most help with.”

“There are so many male groups out there, and it’s not because they’ve been around longer or something like that,” she explains. “I think it’s because women are afraid to express themselves. There’s more backlash, more criticism.”

Nickles, a native Chicagoan and Columbia College grad, is also the founder and operator of Amplified Touring, a company that represents up and coming Chicago acts. Besides managing and promoting the business’ roster, which includes both male and female artists, she also books many of the shows.

Heather Nickles
Heather Nickles

Her experience came in handy when organizing the #womencrush event at HVAC, which she describes as “a big room, 350 capacity or something like that, with a great sound system.”

She also credits the venue for helping to make the show just how #womencrush wanted it to be.

“They were able to help us keep it free,” she says, “and it’s 18+.”

#womencrush was founded in 2017 by Ashley Kervabon, a Portlandian who “noticed a need to build a stronger community amongst women in the music industry,” according to the organization’s website. After realizing that her hunch was accurate, she reached out to friends and contacts in other cities.

New York, Nashville, and Vancouver were among the first of several locations to open chapters outside of Oregon. Since then, #womencrush has expanded to Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, New Orleans, San Francisco, San Jose, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Missoula.

“As soon as they put word out, girls in every city wanted to be part of the movement,” says Nickles, who became Chicago’s Host Leader in October.

Among the Chicago performers at HVAC Pub will be Ava Lake, one of Nickles’ Amplified Touring clients.

“She’s, like, indie pop and kind of electro, very upbeat and very poppy,” says Nickles.



Although Nickles refers to somewhat newer musical genres when she describes Ava Lake’s sound, her personal taste is not limited to the latest thing. Besides admitting to an obsession with Kool & The Gang, who she recently saw at the Horseshoe Casino, she is a big fan of Joan Jett.

“I’ve always been inspired by that old-school rocker genre,” she jokes, “maybe because I’ll never be that cool.”

For more information about the Jan. 27 #womencrush event, click here.