with The Moto-Litas and The Features
The Earl, Atlanta, GA • June 23, 2001
It’s now been two years since the music of Mary Prankster first came into my life. My introduction to her songs was through her first disc, Blue Skies Over Dundalk. A few months later, her second album, Roulette Girl came onto the scene. Although I truly loved both discs, I still desperately wanted to see her sing them live, and on a mild summer night in Atlanta, I got my wish.
First up on the bill was The Features. They played that poppy garage rock that has permeated the Atlanta/Athens scene for nearly fifteen years. The Features play their stuff very well, and it was refreshing to see them not go over the top with a lot of kitsch, yet still keep the music fun. They played educational films during the set, which really didn’t add much to the show. I applaud showmanship, but The Features are such solid musicians — they really don’t need any gimmicks.
Luckily, Mary Prankster was the second band to play, so I didn’t have to wait until the wee hours to see her strap on her guitar and cut loose. There is always the danger that when you wait too long for something, it may disappoint when you finally get it. If anything, Mary Prankster live exceeded all my expectations. I was frankly surprised at how solid she and her band are. I somehow expected them to be kind of loosey goosey, but they were wonderfully tight, and Mary has a stage presence that is every bit as captivating as her songs. She sang, screamed, preened, purred, and flirted throughout a pack set that not only included a slew of songs from her two CDs, but several superb new songs that fit in perfectly with her body of work. Many of the songs are frankly much better than their studio counterparts. With her slender legs clad in red pleather pants and a black mesh top, Mary Prankster demonstrated a theatricality to her songs that made her sound a bit like a punk rock Sally Bowles.
I have to admit to only see the first few songs of The Moto-Litas, but I heard most all of the set from The Earl’s dressing room behind the stage, which frankly had better sound, as The Moto-Litas play so loud that you fear for your dental work. They should certainly add some punch to Daemon Records, who they have recently signed with. These girls, who are decidedly not from the typical girl band mold, ooze personality, and it would be nearly impossible to see them play live and not have fun. They have so much fun on stage, it is contagious.
Mary Prankster is still working on her third disc, and seeing her live only makes the wait that much harder. Her songwriting continues to get better — which is impressive, since it has always been at such a high level. She continues to prove herself to be one of the most intriguing artists around.