with Enter the Foundation

Ground Zero, Pensacola, FL • January 28, 2000

Java Pit, Ft. Walton Beach, FL • January 29, 2000

After weeks of waiting, Stella-Marie finally got to get out of the rehearsal space and in front of an audience. The trio headed by Lauren Newman — who chose to get out from behind the drum kit and play guitar as a band’s front woman after quite a bit of time as a drummer and solo artist — accepted two dates on consecutive nights, in different towns, playing with the band calling themselves Enter the Foundation. Lauren, armed with her Stratocaster, and flanked by her drummer Sam, and bassist, Sarah, braved their first gig at Ground Zero.

Ground Zero, now there’s a story in itself. It’s a store/hangout for role-playing and trading card gamers that is now trying to add live music to the mix. Friday night was Vampire night, and into a jam-packed building rolled an unsuspecting all girl trio. The backstage area was covered in anime style. We were reprimanded for drinking backstage, received disapproving looks for smoking. Guys were hitting on Sam and Lauren, hard, and this was before the band even took the stage. The stage area was actually a small room with no risers and no sound. Honestly, I’ve heard better sound at rehearsal spaces. The girls in the band couldn’t hear each other, and to make matters worse, their drummer was playing with a broken ring finger and had difficulty holding her drumsticks. Lauren Newman instantly got the vibe that her band was not going to be well-received, so she set out to try and empty the room. She didn’t quite empty the place, but gave it her all by talking about douching, lesbianism, and her lust for Britney Spears, and taking easy shots at the audience. Her guitar solos became caterwauls, and on more than one song, simply broke into screaming and shrieking instead of singing her wonderfully quirky lyrics.

I’ve been told that Enter the Foundation played next, but by that time Sarah and I were downing Johnny Walker at the dive bar across the street, Sam had vanished, and Lauren was left to represent all by herself.

About twenty hours later, the scene shifts, and the same cast of characters heads east to Fort Walton Beach and a coffeehouse called the Java Pit. This place was good sized, with a stage and a sound system. The women in Stella-Marie approached this gig with a different attitude than the night before. They were tighter and sounded so much better. You could actually hear Lauren’s lyrics. She was far less spastic than she had been, yet she still exuded personality and attitude as she led her trio through some terrific songs like “Jackson Pollack,” “Bloody Ice Cream,” and my favorite, “Can’t Shake You.” Lauren did take time, however, to again vocalize her feelings about Britney Spears and to do a raunchy cover of “Baby, One More Time” accompanied by an MCD keychain belting out Britney Spears’ signature song. “Hit me baby…one more time!”

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