Lead singer of The Greeting Committee aims to make people feel safe and use her platform to educate.
(Addie Sartino, lead singer of The Greeting Committee / Photographed by Elizabeth Miranda)
Her white converse are worn down by dirt, sweat and rhapsodic jumping. As she leaps into a crowd of fans, their affectionate hands catapult her forward. Underneath her androgynous pastel menswear suits and white sports bra with pleated trousers, Addie Sartino is a queer frontwoman. And she wears her queerness proudly.
Growing up, she wanted to see an acclaimed woman that loves like her. So, Sartino started writing songs when she was 10. Now, as the lead singer in The Greeting Committee, she fills that void for others.
The Greeting Committee’s music sounds like the soundtrack to a vibrant coming-of-age film. Sartino can sing in soft, higher pitches but she thrives in low and rich registers. The band’s music transcends genres: from soft ballads full of electric guitar riffs to rock-and-roll melodies like the band Mannequin Pussy.
Themes of love and hope tie many songs together. Her lyrics stem from her emotional rants, movies and books. But sometimes, they’re very personal. Sartino strings intimate lyrics about her experiences, and she is not afraid to sing about being queer.
In Elise, Sartino croons her adoration for her girlfriend Elise. She goes from singing in a whispered falsetto to proclaiming her love in belts — much like the queer experience for many people.
“Days before the song was written, [Elise] asked me how John Lennon could name songs after Yoko Ono,” Sartino said in an Instagram post. “The answer seemed so obvious to me because I felt it every time I looked at her — love. And maybe that's all John Lennon and I will ever have in common, but I'll take my place any day because it's next to Elise.”
Her newest EP I’m Afraid I’m Not Angry covers topics such as suicide and emotional numbness. In the track “What if Tomorrow Never Comes?,” Sartino assuredly sings “go on and say all is okay / there is tomorrow.”
“I was in such a personal hell that I think hope was all I had to look at,” she said about the EP. “When you’re at the bottom, you get to a point where you have no other choice but to hold on to the idea of being elsewhere.”
Because Sartino knows what it feels like to be so low with only the possibility of a better future to grasp, she now tries to uplift others.
About once a week, Sartino receives DMs from people asking for advice about their sexuality.
“I genuinely just try to be a friend. To encourage them if they need encouragement, offer solutions if they need solutions, or simply listen,” Sartino said. “I encourage others to scream, and I will scream alongside them and scream for them.”
One of her most adored fans is 16-year-old Madelyn Rhyan from California. She said she discovered The Greeting Committee when the band opened for one of Rhyan’s first concerts at 13.
After the concert, Rhyan said she DMed Sartino on Instagram. Within two minutes, Sartino responded and met Rhyan by the stage. Rhyan said they talked for five minutes and continued to message often afterward.
Eventually, the pair became like sisters; Sartino even calls Rhyan “baby gay,” much to Rhyan’s dismay. While on tour in 2019, the band stayed at Rhyan’s grandma’s house for a home-cooked dinner and a hike the next morning. Rhyan said Addie comforted her after being outed in her homophobic eighth-grade class. She texted her advice before her first day of high school and encouraged Rhyan to form her middle school’s first LGBTQ+ club. That helped Rhyan discover her place in the feminist and politically-active local music scene.
(Left to right: Madelyn Rhyan and Addie Sartino / Courtesty photo from Madelyn Rhyan)
In 2019, their friendship was cemented when Sartino handed down one of her jumpsuits to Rhyan. At a Greeting Committee concert in California, Madelyn sported the emerald suit.
And as a queer woman, Rhyan said that seeing Sartino in the spotlight with a girlfriend makes her feel that despite the condemnation she faces now, everything will be okay.
Sartino offers a nest to those who have never felt at home and prevents hatred from entering in. Sartino doesn’t welcome racist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic or sexist people. She has worn a shirt at her concerts that says “no Nazis, no KKK, no fascist USA.”
“It’s not revolutionary saying we won’t stand for people who aren’t kind-hearted,” she said. “It’s just the right thing to do. And I’m glad it helps people feel safe and enjoy themselves better.”
While closeted at 14, Sartino tiptoed through everyday language, afraid to stumble and blow her cover. When she came out, she said she felt a consuming pressure to make her sexuality more visible than she was comfortable with. Now, Sartino said she is more confident, yet also more subtle about her sexual orientation. She shouts her love for Elise –– but only from the rooftop she chooses.
Sartino makes it clear that you’re more than who you choose to kiss, more than a partner. She empowers her listeners to always love themselves, with or without a partnership.
In a personal essay for Rookie Magazine in 2018, Sartino wrote that society confines us to sometimes unnecessary and restrictive labels and categories. Instead, Sartino believes “your heart needs no boundary.”
Katie Delk is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. Her simple pleasures include meditating, sitting beneath trees, writing poetry and blasting '70s music. She cares immensely about the earth, powerful women and social justice. You reach her at email@example.com or @katiedelk on Instagram.