Department of Music Lecture: “Big Feelings: Feminist Affect and Indie Rock After Riot Grrrl”

Dan DiPiero, Assistant Professor of Music Studies, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Prof. DiPiero introduces his current book project on the aesthetic and political contributions of contemporary indie bands like Soccer Mommy, Indigo De Souza, and Jay Som, arguing that they represent a novel synthesis of queer-feminist politics and alternative rock music vocabulary. Overwhelmingly performed by women and queer musicians, DiPiero refers to this indie rock orientation with the term “Big Feelings” in order to foreground the centrality of emotion, feeling, and affect in this music, resulting in a social orientation that listeners perceive, even in the absence of overt or literal statements about politics—that is, listeners feel this music’s feminist orientations even in the absence of clear references. Primarily performed by young, Gen-Z musicians, the Big Feelings that these artists articulate must also be read in the context of the successive socio-political crises that are not literally referenced in the music but nevertheless inform it.

Dan DiPiero is a musician and Assistant Professor of Music Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His first book, Contingent Encounters: Improvisation in Music and Everyday Life (University of Michigan Press 2022), was a finalist for the IASPM book prize in 2023. His second book, tentatively titled, Big Feelings: Feminism and Indie Rock After Riot Grrrl, will appear with the Tracking Pop Series at the University of Michigan Press. Other work has appeared in Jazz and Culture, the Journal of Popular Music Studies, Critical Studies in Improvisation, and more. Prior to UMKC, Dan taught at Ithaca College, Miami University, and Ohio State University, where he earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Studies in 2019.