In 2011, adventure-seeking rock drummer-turned-Hasidic mother of four Dalia Shusterman became a widow. At about the same time, Perl Wolfe, born and raised in the Lubavitch sect of Hasidism, married and divorced, was living with her parents and beginning to write her own music. A few months later, the two women would meet in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and soon after that begin recording their first EP, titled “Down to the Top.”
Their band name, Bulletproof Stockings—a somewhat derogatory term used to refer to the opaque stockings worn by some Orthodox women—hints at their insider status as Hasidic women and also at a kind of freedom or irreverence they bring to their enterprise.
Bulletproof Stockings, which also includes Elisheva Maistser on cello and Dana Pestun on violin, performs for women only, in keeping with kol isha, the prohibition on men hearing women sing that is adhered to among Orthodox Jews. They also dress modestly, as is customary in the Lubavitch community to which they belong. But when playing music, they are not contained. They can be loud and raucous and sooner find common ground with the likes of Jane’s Addiction or the Throwing Muses than with Keren Ann. For that, they’ve attracted attention well beyond their Crown Heights enclave. This week, they take their show to Arlene’s Grocery—a musical mainstay of Manhattan’s Lower East Side—for the venue’s first-ever women’s-only show (see Rishe Groner’s review of the concert here).
Last summer, they talked with Vox Tablet’s Sara Ivry about their musical backgrounds, about ways their faith gets expressed in their music, and about why it’s so important for women to have opportunities to rock out without any guys around. [Running time: 24:46.]