The death of rock ‘n’ roll is overrated. I don’t know much, but I do realize that the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of most performers is not that of the private jet and suite at the Four Seasons. Nope. It’s long road hours spent crammed into a used van stuffed with equipment and stinky bandmates going from city to city trying to garner a following to pursue performance dreams. Why would anyone do that if they thought rock was dead?
There are bands that get to stay in the Four Seasons, but this article isn’t about those bands. Nope, this is about two bands that spend a lot of time in vans. Let’s go with the first band, who I love: Screaming Females. This trio from New Brunswick, NJ packs a tremendous wallop from just three instruments.
The band's lead guitarist and singer is Marissa Paternoster. That name is a mouthful, right? But can she play guitar? Hey, Marissa was named the 77th greatest guitarist of all time by Spin magazine in 2012! I have no idea how you do rankings of this sort, but as Americans we always feel compelled to rank everything. I have no idea whether or not she is the 77th greatest guitarist of all time (I’m thinking 87th), but I do know that if you made the “top 100” list that you can blister the paint off of the wall when you pick up the axe. All you have to do is listen to Screaming Females recorded output and you’ll know that Marissa can flat out play. Still, seeing her live and doing her thing is a revelation.
Take a look at some of these pictures. Marissa is not selling the usual “woman in rock” stuff. No sexy attire or crazy front-woman stuff. Nope, she shows up in a brown dress and tights, picks up her guitar, and then proceeds to tear the place apart. Not a lot of banter on stage. The music does the talking. Make that, the music SCREAMS.
The rest of the band is tight, too. Jarrett Dougherty is on the drums and Mike "King Mike" Abbate plays bass. I don’t know why Mike is King Mike, but I do know that the dude is every bit the match for Marissa.
Screaming Females torched a modest 45 minute set. They were “co-headliners” with Team Dresch (see below) and played first. What sucks about that is they get a much shorter time in which to play. I was hoping to see more SF than Dresch, but it was not to be. But unlike Dresch, SF wasted no time at all – it was a pure music play by a very hot band, and for that, I thank them. Here’s a nice video of a song that they crushed at Union Transfer: I’ll Make You Sorry.
And here’s a link to the band’s website:
Now let’s talk about Team Dresch. I had never heard of them before this show, and I only went because SF was playing. Here’s what I learned.
As part of the punk genre, there is a subset called Queercore. Team Dresch is apparently a leader in this movement. Donna Dresch is the leader of the band, and they have been around, off and on, since 1993. All of the bands members are openly lesbian, and that is only important because their music is part of the entire LBGT scene and is designed to be such. It’s not just a band, therefore, but part of a movement.
That certainly explains the crowd that attended and why I sort of stood out from the typical patron on this particular evening. It was a good crowd, and they were totally into the music of TD, but it was also clear that there was something else happening besides the music.
And that’s a good thing, too, because the music was, frankly, pretty average punk. And pretty average punk is, well, boring. Whereas Screaming Females had rocked and played engaging music that was indie/punky, TD played the same song about 12 times in a row. Or maybe it just felt that way. You could bop to it and mosh if you were so inclined, but there wasn’t a lot of catchy hooks or crafty musical arrangements that caught your ears. The band was visually appealing in that they moved and grooved, but I found the delivery exceeded the product. Oh, and they took forever to tune their instruments between songs and talked about some pretty silly stuff for far too long before playing the same song again.
Oh well, it was still a good night out. I’m hoping that SF decides to headline on their next stop in Philly so that we can get a nice long set. But I was pretty satisfied with the output and came home feeling pretty good about how things had transpired.
Next up, it’s Sheer Mag. Oh baby, are they ever a handful. And I’ve got a rock ‘n’ roll detour coming up, too. And yet another show! It’s been a good fall thus far here at BRP. I hope you’re enjoying it, too. See ya soon.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.