Thursday, December 10, 2009

Live: Screaming Females, So So Glos

When: 11/25
Where: Bell House

I know about 50% of my recent posts have been about Screaming Females. But that's only because they're probably responsible for at least 50% of what's good about the current music scene. So deal with it.

First, though, the So So Glos opened. I reviewed them once before, and my reaction this time was basically the same. They are a really solid hardcore punk band. They aren't doing anything that hasn't been done before, but their songs are well-written and their performance basically involves all of them jumping up and down the entire set, which is excellent.

This time, though, part way through the set, the band dipped into something much more subtle and restrained than anything I expected to hear. Yes, it was a little disjointed, and yes, I like loud-fast music, but the temporary change in pace was smart. It illustrated not only that the SSGs have a knack for arrangement and composition, but also that they may have far more tricks up their sleeve than they usually let on. I'm intrigued.

And then they went back to their fun, catchy hardcore, pogoing and yelling to the end of their set. Hooray! [MySpace]

OK, so here it comes. Screaming Females! Anyone who's ever been in a band knows that all your equipment will work fine until it all suddenly malfunctions on the same day. And this night at Bell House was that day for Screaming Females. Marissa Paternoster's guitar kept cutting out (due at least in part to the flailing audience hitting the power switch connected to her pedals). Meanwhile, a de-facto drum tech kept popping out on stage to fix something, I'm not even sure what. The many problems put a dent in the set's momentum, but the band did their best to carry on with minimal interruption.

However, despite overcoming the barrage of technical difficulties, it was a bit of a lackluster set, as compared to the others I've seen recently. The reason was simple - the set list just wasn't great. Aside from "Bell," the band skipped over most of their best tunes (and they have so many best tunes). It was disappointing, knowing how much better it could have been.

Screaming Females (photo by Eddie Austin)
Screaming Females (photo by Eddie Austin)

However, for anyone who doesn't know how good this band can get, the set was plenty good enough to make an impression. My two friends who heard the band for the first time that night can confirm this. No matter what songs they're playing, all three Screaming Females are exceptionally talented. So much as been said about Paternoster's guitar-playing that it's hard to contribute anything new to the discussion. Meanwhile, just out the spotlight, Mike Abbate is playing some of the best bass guitar I've ever heard. The trio displays a seamless musical chemistry that's rare in young bands, locking in so effortlessly you'd think they share a brain. (Hmmm...)

The band also skipped the whole encore thing, which I appreciated. Every show, no matter if it's great or only mediocre, has an encore these days. The audience hardly even claps or yells because it's just expected. Why go through that fanfare? Paternoster just said "so this is where we leave and you all clap and we come out and do one last song, so we're just going to play that now, and then we're really done, ok?" I like dumb traditions as much as anyone, but sometimes it's time to cut the crap. Yeah: "Screaming Females: Crap-Free Music Since 2005." [MySpace]

No comments: