Bulletproof Stockings is fierce. They are unapologetically bold and unique. Their name being a reference to the tights traditionally worn by observant Hasidic Jewish women, this all-girl Chassidic Alternative Rock band from Crown Heights, Brooklyn are truly creating a buzz for themselves, not only for being Hasidic and all female, but because they also don’t play for men. I got to be in their audience at the Northside Fest in June and recently was able to talk with them for a bit after their set at Bar Matchless, which definitely won me over as a new fan. There’s a lot more than what you see with this band. They are: Perl Wolfe (Lead Vocals & Piano), Dalia G. Shusterman (Drums & Vocals), Elisheva Maister (on Cello), and Dana Pestun (on Violin).
Dalia has been touring the world for years since she was young playing with many other bands like Hopewell, with whom she recorded two albums, an EP, and numerous singles. Together they toured both the U.S. (including CMJ, SXSW) & Europe, playing summer festivals (Leeds, Reading, PukkelPop), radio shows (including John Peel Sessions, BBC), and were featured in press around the world (Time Out NY; NME, UK). Among her influences were bands like Jane’s Addiction, PJ Harvey, and The Pixies. She lived in New Orleans for a while where she played around in an array of cool sounds like jazz and syncopated Afro-rhythms, so she had a wide variety of influences from all over. Although she didn’t grow up in a very religious family home, Dalia always felt like something was missing. Years later, she was invited to attend a party in Crown Heights, New York where she would find the man she’d marry and prepare to leave the music world behind her for a while to follow a more religious lifestyle. Her husband had been a rabbi who supported her dreams and even gave her the drum set she plays on now. After becoming a widow, Dalia officially moved to Crown Heights where she settled down and would soon meet Perl.
Since the age of 6, Perl had been classically trained in piano and sang in choirs. She grew up in a Chabad home in Chicago, listening to a lot of classical music, blues, and also was very into punk and pop-punk music – this including acts like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, the Beatles, Green Day, Blink 182, No Doubt, White Stripes, Radiohead – you get the picture. She started writing music in 2011 after divorcing for the second time. She found herself questioning everything about where her life was going (you and me both, sister), including her religion. Somehow, something in her changed one day and music just started flowing to her. She couldn’t stop writing and it came so naturally. Soon enough she began looking for fellow female musicians to form an all-girl band. Perl met someone who knew Dalia and a few days later they met, instantly feeling a mutual connection with each other. It was a great thing too because it’s almost rare to find fellow female Hasidic musicians in the community. With the help of mutual friends, they met Elisheva and Dana later on, completing the pack. Their sound is like Florence & the Machine and Fiona Apple meshed together. It’s emotional, sassy, strong and rebellious all at once with high pitched vocals, loud drums, and soothing cello chords. It’s the sound of Girl Power!
Like I mentioned before, Bulletproof Stockings don’t sing for men. The reason for this is the Hasidic prohibition called Kol B’Isha that bans men from listening to women sing outside their immediate family. Why they’re following this rule isn’t because they are oppressed women bound by their religious limitations, but they actually chose to follow it. Men aren’t the focus at their shows.
The feedback they receive is mostly positive all around. Generations of women are coming to their shows, some whom have never attended a concert before and others who just haven’t had the time to find a band they enjoy. Women feel empowered and inspired after attending their shows and that’s exactly what Bulletproof Stockings is about. The negative feedback they usually do receive, surprisingly enough doesn’t come from men in their direct community but rather from secular communities (nonreligious). They’ll receive online comments from men accusing them of being sexist, oppressive, and discriminatory, purposely trying to shame them continuously. What these men don’t seem to understand is that what the band doing isn’t anti-men, but really more pro-women than anything else, in the biggest way possible. Women are invited to rock out freely.
Bulletproof Stockings released their debut EP Down to the Top on April 2012 with “Frigid City” being their most popular track- always keeping the crowd chanting for more.
They’re booking shows all around New York and are now seeking to expand their female audience in outside regions. They already have the attention from the media (like TV’s Oxygen, The New Yorker, The New York Post, Huffington Post, and more), and you can bet this band is definitely going places. They’re standing up for what they believe in and not taking any hate or criticism or other general crap from anyone who doesn’t bother to know more about them rather than the fact that they don’t perform for men. This Chassidic Alt-Rock Female band from Crown Heights, New York is definitely worth paying attention to. They’re not only here to rock out, they’re inspiring women and being inspired by them as well. It’s a win, win situation and that’s fine with us. The Atypical Beasts are definitely excited to see where this band goes and we are honored to have come across this really amazing rock band, so stay tuned #Beasts!
Written by Lupe Ramirez