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

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Rain fell heavily on the roof of the Ché Café. Girls with bangs and septum piercings filled the small, wooden room as the aroma of incense with a hint of cinnamon drifted around the space. The rain poured outside. Dreamlike patterns of reflected puddles danced across the foggy windows. Girlpool, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad, stepped on to the low platform stage. They casually greeted the crowd, completed their own mic check, and started the show with “Ideal World.” Their eyes were closed as the two girls cooed softly. Their voices evoked an element of youth. Their humble band of guitar, bass, and vocal created an undeniably minimalist sound. The absence of excess added more emphasis to the untamed roughness of their voices tucked neatly away for precise moments.

Tucker looked up at the crowd and said “Has anyone ever hit their head in the bathroom here?…I guess I just don’t focus enough… I’m just in glee when I’m here.” With the compliment well received, they went into the folky “I Like That You Can See It.” The middle of the song swung with momentum and strained, passionate vocals that filled the room. The crowd was standing calmly but none-the-less adoring as if the show were some sort of art exhibit or poetry slam.

Tucker and Tividad put up no barriers, asking people what they were for Halloween and even drinking out of a water bottle from someone in the audience. The way they sing about life in a relatable way, and the manner in which they interact with the crowd shows that they are comfortable and don’t take themselves too seriously.

The next song was a newer one as the girls disclosed. The core of the song, recently titled “Soup,” was not unlike the previous ones, but with lyrics like “Come over to my house I’ll help find your fix/ You’ve got lots of potential/ Can you feel it?” it was darker, eerier, and more seductive.

They closed with “Cherry Picking” which, starting out slow and deliberate, escalated to a heavier rhythm that led to a small and abrupt mosh. Girlpool stuck around for a two song encore. They played one of their more dynamic songs “Plants And Worms,” then they switched instruments and performed “Paint Me Colors.” Tucker and Tividad took turns on the vocals, energy building all the while, until, at the peak, a mosh pit broke out, spilling onto the stage and causing the musicians to stop abruptly. After a pause, they picked up where they left off and ended the show. In their performance was something naively passionate– a blend of immaturity and insightfulness. The impression that would remain was the image of these two quirky girls, seemingly so sweet but also a touch misunderstood, channeling their agitation into outspokenness.

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Photo / @sodabarsd / Article / Gabriella Librizzi