with Downtown Boys, Wet Nurse
The Social; Orlando, FL • March 12, 2015
It’s the extraordinary guitar work that you’ll first hear about when you someone raves to you about Screaming Females, and for good reason. Marissa Paternoster, guitarist/vocalist for Screaming Females, will certainly wow you with her intricate skills and roaring solos, but really what gives the band their sound is Paternoster’s convulsive, unhinged vocals. They shudder, they wail, they tremble and shake — she sounds like a volcano that can blow at any second. Slip these volatile vocals inside of raging melodies and back ’em up with deep, chest rattling beats and bass and voilÃ : Screaming Females.
The New Jersey band’s first headlining gig in Orlando brought them back to The Social, where last I saw them opening up for Ted Leo, back in 2010. Soon after that night the band started building up steam, getting killer reviews and touring with bands like Garbage and then abruptly got sidelined when Paternoster got slammed with a weird, chronic illness that eventually got diagnosed as Fibromyalgia. For a year or so the band was put on hold and their future was uncertain, but art won out. Songs on Rose Mountain, the band’s sixth album, are mostly about contempt, frustration, and pain. It’s a breakup album, but the relationship that ended is one not with a lover, but with Paternoster’s own rebelling body.
Wet Nurse opened the show for a small but exuberant crowd. Sisters Nina and Susana Chaplin share vocals, and play guitar and bass respectively, Vanessa Brewster pounds on the drums like a champ, and — since recording their full length debut Daily Whatever — they’ve added a second guitarist, Baile Yeager. The foursome serve up a delicious dish of 60’s girl group and garage pop sounds that I’ve been personally hooked on for months. Toward the end of their too short set they played a new song and announced that a followup record is finished and on the horizon. Can’t wait.
The bilingual politically charged punk of Downtown Boys was wild, weird, and welcome. In an age where most of the music, and even the live show, has become pretty tame an over the top frontwoman like Victoria Ruiz is a godsend. She rants and paces, she screams in the faces of all within reach of her and she gives the air an anything-can-happen quality. Musically, the Rhode Island band is a little X-Ray Spex, a little Dead Kennedys, and a whole lot of primitive screaming on the part of Ruiz. They’re raw, they’re fun, and they are a definite must-see live act!
The Social had filled up a bit by the time the headliners dove into their roaring set. The pint size Marissa is joined onstage by drummer Jarrett Dougherty and bassist King Mike (who is, comically, nearly twice her height), but it is at Marissa’s feet where the most frenzied fans reside. Her guitar wasn’t as cranked up as it probably should have been, but still the sound in the room was virile when the trio was ripping through tracks like “Doom 84” and “Ripe.” Her vocals sound more polished than when last I saw the band, and her guitar playing is confident, though she herself seems a bit timid offstage.
This date was just one of the first of a 3 month tour that will take the band to SXSW, all around the country and across the ocean into Europe. If you can’t make it to one of the bajillion dates, check out director Lance Bangs’ mini tour documentary (noisey.vice.com/noisey-specials/screaming-females-a-tour-documentary-directed-by-lance-bangs-part-1) to see what you’re missing.