Screaming Females @ The Luminaire, London 27.10.10

Fronting the tried and tested set-up of a bass-drums-guitar trio, with some hefty vocals thrown in for good measure, Screaming Females recall the golden age of garage rock. In measures of Bikini Kill and shots of punk outfits like Television and The Slits, it is a simplistic sound made epic through leading lady Marissa Paternoster’s stellar solos and plucky riffs.

Oct 27th, 2010 at The Luminaire / By Clementine Lloyd
Screaming Females Entering the stage in a black pinafore dress with white collar which an amish grandmother would be proud of, Marissa sets herself apart from King Mike and Jarrett, who are sporting more comfortable modern attire. This get up is made even more backward as they embark on their opener ‘Buried in The Nude’, a violent and vigorous tune in all its screaming vocals and thrashing drums. This is definitely the way the trio operate, as King Mike’s frame takes up nearly a whole third of the stage, Marissa’s tiny stature tells nothing of her formidable power and epic voice. Power is the ultimate buzzword.

With other tracks like ‘I Don’t Mind It’, there is an element of The Cure in the steady rhythmic patterns and very electric slider riffs overlapping angsty lyrics “You do me a great service when you call my bluff, I stay home for hours, But it’s just never enough”, whilst all the time creating this sense of joy in their upbeat drives and Paternosters’s solos. It is refreshing to see a band that rely solely on their instruments and own vocals, rather than fiddling with synths or an array of pedals. It is a raw and deep performance which is made even more watchable by their quirky movements and full on energetic approach. Jarrett practically bounces up and down as he pounds away at his drum kit through tracks like ‘A New Kid’, Mike utilising a hefty amount of feedback through the amp as the bass bubbles underneath it all.

Whilst indulging in choice tracks from their previous albums, channeling the bouncy and understated ‘Bell’, it is clear that this is the chance to air some of their newer creations, playing a fair few songs from their September release Castle Talk. Dedicating the last of their set to a selection from the album, high points being elegantly icy ‘Fall Asleep’ and the delightfully dissident ‘Normal’.

Closing with the perfect finale, ‘Boyfriend’, we are treated to more trademark madness, as the torrid track washes over the crowd in a haze of feedback and half-word screeching vocals. In a sea of resonating symbols and reverb Marissa’s eyes start to roll back in her head, and in this instance her outfit makes sense, taking on the character of a possessed child from a 70’s horror and dropping to her knees to fiddle with the functions of her pedal. Slightly alarming though it is, it forms the perfect ending to this most bizarre gig, in which we have retreated to a more honest musical era. Garage rock to the heart, with raw music to match the raw vocals which encompass their sound, Screaming females are a rare treat of awesome power and REAL talent.