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Don’t worry. Missy Dabice is OK. Probably.

The night before our phone interview, Dabice, singer and guitarist of Philadelphia experimental rock band Mannequin Pussy, was unloading the van before the show in Salt Lake City when her foot slipped into a pothole.

“I rolled my ankle, heard a huge pop, and now it’s very swollen,” Dabice says from the van while the band makes its way to the next show in Seattle. She laughs, her tone suggesting she’s looking for reassurance from no one in particular. “Hopefully I’m not too fucked-up?”

Despite being stuck in an orthopedic boot, Dabice is optimistic the injury won’t hinder her ability to perform. There are still more than a dozen shows left on Mannequin Pussy’s tour, from California to New York (including a sold-out Oct. 20 stop at The High Watt). Like so many artists, Dabice and her bandmates — bassist and singer Colins “Bear” Regisford and drummer Kaleen Reading — are hungry to be back on the road, hungry for the camaraderie that can form between band and audience.

That dynamic is what drew Dabice to music in the first place. A decade ago, when she was 23, Dabice was inspired to teach herself guitar — not by what she saw onstage from other performers, but rather what she didn’t see.

“I was living in New York for a little bit, and I realized that every show I went to was mostly white men who couldn’t look more bored playing their music,” she says. “Ten years ago the vibe was indie artists looking like they would rather be anywhere else than onstage, and that never really sat right to me as someone who really longed to be a musician and didn’t see a lot of women onstage for a very long time.”

Strides were made when feminist-focused movements like riot grrrl encouraged girls and women to play music in the ’90s, but the early 2010s seemed to go in reverse. All-white, all-male bands were flooding modern rock’s mainstream, with outfits like Vampire Weekend, Mumford & Sons and Kings of Leon often representing the genre on the Billboard 200.

“I was like, ‘If you have an opportunity to play for an audience, why would you look like they were the enemy?’ ” she continues. “That being a scene I was observing at the time had a big influence. The audience is not the enemy, they are part of this experience. You are there to perform for them and have this energy and catharsis and, you know, all the things that you would want to experience at the show. Like, why would I want to go to a show and be bored?”

Mannequin Pussy’s songs are an entire universe away from boring. The band pairs cathartic and confessional take-no-shit lyrics with everything from blast beats to glowing shoegaze to hooks worthy of a Taylor Swift chorus, depending on the song.

On 2019’s Patience, the band’s third full-length overall and first for renowned punk label Epitaph, Dabice lays bare uncensored memories of an abusive relationship. It’s no doubt therapeutic for her, but also for anyone else who’s experienced similar trauma.

She sings about drinking too much and regrettably calling her ex in “Drunk II,” a song that showcases the band’s knack for combining pretty vocal hooks and spirited guitar solos with abstract distortion. “High Horse” heads in the opposite direction. The track is haunting and minimal, a somber space for Dabice to hesitantly sing about the fight that became the final straw: “Pushing me up against the kitchen sink / I feel your breath on me / I can taste it in my teeth.” She regains her sense of self on “F.U.C.A.W.,” the band’s guaranteed mosh pit starter. Wailing guitar cuts through the churning beat like a warning, and Dabice demands to know, with what sounds like every muscle in her body tensed and ready, “What did you say to me, boy?” It is nearly impossible not to scream the lyric along with her.

“I love a catchy pop song so much,” says Dabice. “There’s something in it that brings you in — you want to sing along to it, you want to be part of the song. A lot of the time the way we feel part of songs is we feel as though we can sing along to it and really feel what the song is saying, so I’ve always tried to put that into our music.”

Mannequin Pussy continues their exorcism on their new EP Perfect, a purging release of the complicated emotions that built up during the pandemic. On the title track, Dabice calls to task others’ — and perhaps her own — incessant need find validation through social media, satirically screaming out: “Look in my eyes / Tell me I’m it / Tell me I’m beauty / Tell me I’m fit / Spit in my face / Laugh at my tits / Tell me I’m perfect / Tell me I’m it.” Bassist Regisford takes over lead vocals for the first time in the group’s history to spill his guts on “Pigs Is Pigs,” an urgent protest of police violence against Black people, in which he demands recognition of the anxiety and fear he lives with every day as a Black man in America.

Their experiences are relatable, their music is cleansing. It’s a magnetic combination that makes for one part band and one part movement. The fact that more people are vying to become a part of it every day is not an accident.

“I think, especially in that era 10 years ago, there was this economy of apathy,” Dabice says. “It was seen as cool not to care. I cannot think of anything more uncool than not giving a shit about your community and the people around you and the space that you try to take up in performing.

“To me it’s way cooler to care.”

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