Edith Victoria loves The Masquerade so much that she has a tattoo of the venue’s logo on her left wrist. In fact, it was her first-ever ink design, which makes sense when understanding what the space means to her.
It’s where she formed community.
“I also noticed how fortunate I was to grow up in Atlanta because a lot of rock scenes aren’t very diverse, but all of my friends that I met from going to these shows are people of color, which is crazy … it really is the reason who I am today,” said Victoria, who resides in Fayette County. “The Masquerade is basically where I grew up, met all of my friends and found purpose. It’s a very safe space for me.”
Now, as the lead singer for the budding rock band Meet Me @ the Altar, she’ll headline a sold-out show at The Masquerade for the first time. The group, which also includes Ada Juarez on drums and Téa Campbell on bass guitar, will perform in Atlanta on Saturday. It’s one of the final stops for group’s tour to support their debut album “Past // Present // Future,” which dropped earlier this month.
The 11-track album is a stunning showcase for the group, putting a contemporary twist on the nostalgia of rock, pop and punk while celebrating the artists that came before them.
“At the beginning of the writing process for this record, we were kind of losing our minds because we didn’t know what we wanted to go for yet, and this was our first time writing with other people,” said Campbell. “This was our first time going out to L.A. and doing co-writes. It was kind of like speed dating where you write a song and if you don’t gel well with the person, the song is not going to come out well, and we just had a lot of sessions back-to-back where we just were not happy with what we were creating, and we had to sit down and ask ourselves what we wanted this album to sound like.”
“The more we thought about it, the more we realized we kept going back to the music that influenced us, which was like Pink and Demi Lovato, the Jonas Brothers and Kelly Clarkson.”
“Past // Present // Future” is also a celebration of Meet Me @ the Altar’s roughly eight year journey as a band. And the group of 20-somethings (Victoria and Campbell are 22 while Juarez is 24) all met in a very Gen-Z way — on the Internet. In 2015, Campbell, who lived in Orlando, stumbled upon drum covers that Juarez, who lived in New Jersey, uploaded on YouTube. That’s when the pair began messaging each other about starting a band and held auditions for lead vocalists. Although it took them a while before choosing Victoria to round out the group, they knew she’d be a perfect fit.
They released their first EP “Red Walls” during the same year and the group performed most of their first shows in Orlando. Forming a band with members living in three different states sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it did for Meet Me @ the Altar. Juarez eventually moved to the Orlando, and Victoria frequently traveled there to rehearse with her bandmates.
Credit: Jonathan Weiner
Credit: Jonathan Weiner
There have always been a handful of women of color in rock, going all the way back to one of the pioneers, Sister Rosetta Tharpe right up through British feminist punk trio Big Joanie. But, as a rock band comprised of women of color, there were few acts that looked like them. They didn’t have many examples to follow.
“We started this band super young,” Juarez said. “We were all in high school. As we were growing, we were kind of waiting for something else to come along, and then we were like, ‘Ok I guess we’re it.’”
Since then, the band has been heavily lauded as a pioneer for women of color in a predominantly white and male genre, but they don’t always want to be perceived that way.
“The focus is on who we are and what we represent because there hadn’t been anything like that before really, but I think we’ve talked about it enough to the point where we want people to just see us as a band first and let the music speak for itself,” Campbell said.
Victoria said that while diversity in rock music is growing, there’s still a long way to go, which is why the group wants to focus on making great music.
“It definitely feels great being that representation,” Victoria said. “At first, it was very difficult even being looked at as a serious band because we are women and women of color. I think people definitely didn’t expect to get what they got when we went on stage and started performing, and we definitely had to prove ourselves.”
And they want to ensuring they’re giving their all at each show. The expectations are high.
“Every single show that we’ve done so far has been so different form the past tours that we’ve done because we’ve been openers instead of headliners, and the crowds have been getting rowdy, which is pretty cool,” Juarez said. “We are kind of used to that, but it’s cool seeing that it’s our crowd.”
IF YOU GO
Meet Me @ the Altar
With Young Culture and Daisy Grenade. 6:30 p.m. April 1. Sold out. The Masquerade, 50 Lower Alabama St., #110, Atlanta. masqueradeatlanta.com.
DeAsia is an award-winning music and culture journalist whose work has been featured in Pitchfork, NPR Music, Teen Vogue and more. She focuses on the intersection of arts, culture, and diverse communities, as well as how emerging social trends are being expressed through the lens of the Atlanta aesthetic.