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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