On the dark-lit stage of the Bootleg Theater, there’s Screaming Females frontwoman Marissa Paternoster, shredding the holy hell out of a black electric guitar; in the very front of the pit, there’s me, staring up at her like Mary Magdalene at the crucifixion. She wore her customary black dress and tights– I, apparently, wore my heart on my sleeve, to the point that I made appearances on strangers’ Instagram stories, visibly near tears.

Suffice it to say, Screaming Females melt faces wherever they go. Playing a packed setlist of newer hits from recent albums All At Once (2018) and Rose Mountain (2015) through a sudden LA thunderstorm, Marissa Paternoster, Mike “King Mike” Abbate, and Jarrett Dougherty commanded a venue slammed to the gills, alternately leading the audience in howling favorite tracks and through transfixed silence. Cheers erupted from the crowd whenever Marissa sank to the ground in the process of committing solo guitar murder; she has been described by others as a “bowl-haired firecracker” (SPIN) and a “Tasmanian Devil onstage” (my friend from high school), and more than lives up to this reputation in person. Upbeat rock anthem “Black Moon” had the whole audience screeching along; moody, low-key “Hopeless” met with tears, hands over hearts, hands in the air. Never let it be said that Screaming Females, affectionately known as Screamales, don’t have a well-deserved devoted fanbase. The band ducked offstage to stomps, cheers, and chants of “ONE MORE SONG!,” and came back to gift us with a rousing, high-energy rendition of “I’ll Make You Sorry” to universal delight.

This review would be incomplete without noting the absolutely star-studded openers. Second billing was given to Kitten Forever (Corrie Harrigan, Laura Larson, Liz Elton), who are traveling with Screaming Females on their US tour; the all-female punk band shouts lyrics down a retrofitted telephone made into a stage mic, giving you the feeling that you’ve been invited into their room to vent your spleen. More impressively, Kitten Forever skillfully, seamlessly swap musical spots throughout their set– any given member will be a drummer one moment and a guitarist or singer the next, with all three members executing each with equal deft skill and enthusiasm. The first opener, Scorpio Scorpio, was surprise-packed with some of punk’s Real Big Names: OG Riot Grrrl Allison Wolfe of Bratmobile, ‘70s punk feminist Alice Bag, and Seth Bogart, aka Hunx of Hunx and His Punx. Playing their first performance ever in outfits made of painted-up trash bags, Scorpio Scorpio blasted fun, danceable punk tracks that no doubt have everyone who was in the audience wondering what their next move will be. Where’s the album, SS?

All in all, this wasn’t a show to miss, pulled off gorgeously in the Bootleg’s awesome, twisty, DIY-style venue. And if you did miss it, well, get into the performers’ huge discographies on Bandcamp! While heaven knows where Scorpio Scorpio will be, Screaming Females and Kitten Forever are touring together in the States until October 27th, so you have plenty of time to see them, as long as you don’t want to see them here in California. After that, Screamales will tour through the end of the year with rock icons the Breeders (you know, no big deal). Don’t miss ‘em if they come your way!


Written by Isa Elfers

Catch Dykes Reclaim the Universe on Sundays @7pm here on KSDT.org


 

Last week, I caught a concert in Solana Beach by Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, a funk jam band hailing from Baltimore. One of my friends, a Deadhead who attends several concerts a month, recommended it to me as “the best in-concert experience” he has ever had; this is a guy who spent an entire week listening to Phish in Madison Square Garden. It seemed like high praise, especially from him, so I had to check them out. I gathered a couple other music lovers who were also unfamiliar with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, and we headed over to the venue, Belly Up: an excellent music venue packed with great ambience, killer acoustics, and enthusiastic listeners.

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong created the perfect vibe for a small venue concert. Though it seemed that most of the audience was new to their music, their energy and presentation carried through the entire crowd. They had unrivaled on-stage presence, engaging more and more with each song. It felt like they were part of the audience themselves, responding to its every dance move.

The audience was universally letting loose, and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong continued for two hours without so much as a pause. Their set was perfectly flowing, never monotonous, and always had you guessing the next song while keeping you completely in the loop. The guitarists and the bassist had great chemistry, exchanging riffs as if they were talking to each other. The drum solo was the highlight of the night, coming in between two wonderfully melodic pieces, and stole the show suddenly and superbly.

All in all, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong was definitely one of my best concert experiences. There were no crazy antics on the part of the artists, no bells or whistles; just pure musical excellence with incredibly engaging performers. They do over 200 shows a year, and if they end up in your area, I would highly recommend seeing them. Until then, find them on Spotify and Bandcamp– while you’re at it, definitely check out their 2014 album, Psychology.


Written by Avaneesh Narla

Catch Kugelblitz on Saturdays @8pm here on KSDT.org