It's fitting the Our Scene Band in a Hat Extravaganzaaa took place at MINT, a mixed-used South Side arts space, since the absence of a stage helped highlight the blurred line between audience and performer.

It's fitting the Our Scene Band in a Hat Extravaganzaaa took place at MINT, a mixed-used South Side arts space, since the absence of a stage helped highlight the blurred line between audience and performer.

The event, dreamed up by Maryn Jones (All Dogs, Yowler) and Kathryn Keister (Katherine), was designed, in large part, to attract more women, transgender and non-binary individuals to participate in the local music scene, and during the Sunday showcase nearly 40 musicians formed eight bands for a series of two or three songs mini-sets (each group was tasked with two originals and a cover, though the loose guidelines allowed for flexibility in the final tally) that stretched over three hours.

Musically, most of the bands favored a more traditional guitar-bass-drums setup, though the resulting formations embraced sounds that ranged from dark and menacing (the most-excellent Cassandra, which opened the showcase with a trio of caustic, slow-burning tunes, including a nearly unrecognizable take on Paula Cole's "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone") to scrappy and infectious (Beach Body, whose members lived up to the name by wearing sunglasses and swimwear for the performance).

One group, dubbed Ghostcat Collective, strayed from this template, incorporating everything from trombone to a six-foot-long rainstick in three folk- and acoustic-blues leaning tunes. "We're a little different," singer/guitarist Nate Bowers offered at the onset, "and that's OK."

This all-embracing attitude bled into everything from the cover selections - the line "So take me as I am" from Beach Body's cover of Meredith Brooks' "Bitch" could've served as an alternate tagline for the evening - to the supportive vibes emitted by the midsized crowd.

From my vantage, it was particularly interesting to watch Crystal Labris' set, since I was able to sit in on part of the band's first rehearsal in early May. During that practice, Jordan O'Jordan tentatively plucked out the groove from ESG's "Erase You" on his banjo and cracked jokes with singer Leah Divito about being "the Vandellas to her Martha." Here, O'Jordan ditched the banjo altogether (due in part to the room's acoustics), while the 1960s girl-group influence bled into one soul-streaked original.

My favorite song of the evening, however, arrived courtesy of Vag Pltt, which blasted its way through a fierce (and hilarious) "Dump Your Boring Boyfriend," about a guitar-toting dude with a fondness for bland sports bars. Even on a night celebrating inclusion it was impossible not to root for the song's narrator to cast him aside.

Credit AndyDowning