From Trio to Boygenius: in praise of all-women supergroups

When famous male musicians unite, it is often a show of strength, while women tend to create space for each others’ talents. So why are there so few bands?

There have been few all-women supergroups: by my count, 14 of note, spanning 60s R&B trio Honey Cone to Boygenius, the trio comprising burgeoning indie talents Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, who release their debut EP today. It is a comparatively rich era for such allegiances: Boygenius’s existence is mirrored in country by Pistol Annies and in folk by I’m With Her. Even so, the “supergroup” designation can feel like a bad fit for bands comprising noted women musicians.

When their male counterparts unite, it’s often in a show of strength that upholds tired rock norms: behold, wearily, the travesty of Hollywood Vampires (Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry). Groups of famous men joining forces often feels like fantasy football – all-star names with no cohesion – whereas for women it’s often more akin to sharing a single easel, creating a space for their talents to complement each other. The young members of Boygenius – named to mock how easily male musicians are lauded as prodigies – found solace in one another as their careers rose in parallel and they encountered the same issues. Miranda Lambert started Pistol Annies to lift up two struggling songwriter friends; I’m With Her have remarked on the creative possibilities that exist when they’re not relegated to singing high parts with men.

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