The Southern Girls Convention
featuring 1945, New Robot Theory, Cuddle Core, and Nicki Sutherland
The Green Bean, Auburn, AL • July 20, 2001
The third annual Southern Girls Convention promised a line up of mostly emerging and unknown bands. A few bands I had seen before in some form, but the majority are totally unknown. Unknown, but far from untalented. I felt a little like a baseball scout looking for exciting new talent.
Katherine McElroy and Hunter Mancuso from Three Finger Cowboy kicked things off in their new band, 1945. The smooth quartet mix infectious pop hooks with distorted guitar and intricate male and female harmonies. 1945 is a road-tested band, and their experience shows, as they were able to pull of a really nice set under almost impossible conditions. A terribly small, cramped, and overheated venue with no acoustics were only the beginning of the problems facing both bands and audience. But give everyone credit. What could have turned very ugly was handled with a great deal of humor and calm and the evening turned out to be rather enjoyable.
The second act was a puppet show, but alas, there were more interesting things happening in the parking lot between three girls from Kansas and a number of Auburn’s boys in blue. But the police finished their business and left just in time to get back inside for New Robot Theory. Featuring members of XBXRX, they played standing on their amps among the pinball machines• for around 200 seconds. They had a seven-inch record for sale, and they basically played it live. Certainly a case of quality over quantity, they played one of the more memorable sets I•ve seen in a while.
The swelter inside The Green Bean continued for two more bands. The pop punk trio Cuddle Core tried their best to be heard, but were hampered by nearly inaudible vocals. They do have a really terrific drummer that drives the sound headed by the two guitar-playing singers. Their pop punk sound laced with socio-political lyrics hearkens back to the best of the riot grrrl bands. It’s just a shame that their lyrics were a casualty of the venue. I’d definitely be into seeing them play under better conditions.
With a couple of no shows, Nicki Sutherland was pulled into closing the show. In all honesty, she should have been opening and 1945 should have been closing the show. This is hardly a slight on Sutherland, but after a few full bands it is nearly impossible for a girl with an acoustic guitar to capture a crowds attention. But all that aside, Nicki Sutherland is a talented songwriter and performer who I would certainly be interested in hearing more from. She has a touch of Ani DiFranco in her but is hardly an Ani clone. She has her own voice and exhibits a refreshing confidence on stage, and is certainly a name to keep your eye open for. ◼