By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
What kind of garage does garage rock come from? Is it a musty, damp pit with a beat-up jalopy in the corner? Or a sleek, clean carport that houses a brand-new hot rod? This October, two traveling musical events will roll into town bearing opposing answers to that question: The Girlz Garage, a Warped Tour spin-off featuring up-and-coming, predominantly female bands, will be at Irving Plaza on October 24, and British raw rock scene queen Holly Golightly, supported by Detroit's Ko and the Knockouts, will play the Mercury Lounge on October 17 and Southpaw on October 20.
If the Girlz Garage was a physical space, it would definitely be painted bright pink, and there would be a shiny convertible with a black leather interior. An extension of the "Ladies Lounge" tent at Warped (which showcases girl bands alongside displays from fashion and makeup companies), the tour is "dedicated to breaking new music and creating a wider awareness of women in music," according to its press release. (It is also dedicated to showing off the fall fashion line from Hurley International, one of the tour's sponsors.) Kevin Lyman, founder and head honcho of the annual punk rock summer camp, is quoted as saying, "There are so many strong female-fronted acts that this tour is never more relevant than now." Such well-meaning talk ignores the proverbial elephant in the garage: Why aren't there more women on the Warped Tour itself? Only two out of the nearly 50 acts that performed at the festival's Randalls Island stop this August featured female musicians. Is ghettoizing the girlz in an off-season midsized club trek really the best way to raise awareness?
Of the five Girlz Garage bands, only theSTART, a Los Angeles-based pop-punk quartet, has performed at Warped. The other fourLillix, Brassy, Northern State, and the Peak Showall make music that wouldn't go over too well with the moshing masses. A bunch of hot teenage fillies, Lillix hail from Avril Lavigne country both geographically (a small, rural town in Canada) and sonically (glossy, Matrix-produced rock). If these ladies ever practiced in a garage, it was probably next to a giant SUV and a bunch of hockey equipment. Lillix's wholesome cover of the Romantics' "What I Like About You," which serves as the theme song for the tween-oriented WB show of the same name, would probably incite tomato-throwing by a Warped audience. Brassy are a punk/funk group fronted by Jon Spencer's sassy younger sister, Muffin; the Peak Show play trippy dance-metal; and Voice favorites Northern State are Salt 'N' Pepa meet the Beastie Boys. The Girlz Garage lineup is far more interesting and diverse than Warped's has ever been. But none of its acts play garage rock.
London's Holly Golightly (yes, that's her real name) makes soulful '60s-influenced music that drips with motor oil and grease. She's most famous for her cameo on the last track of the White Stripes' Elephant, but a much better way to hear her singing, songwriting, and guitar playing is on her great new album Truly She Is None Other(Damaged Goods). A legend among garage revivalists, Golightly has been pumping out fuzz-toned albums and singles for the past 12 years, both as a solo artist and as a member of Billy Childish's Thee Headcoatees. One of the many groups inspired by Golightly and her London scene contemporaries, Ko and the Knockouts update the revivalist sound with girl-group harmonies and sweetness. The love-stricken ditties on the Knockouts' self-titled debut (Sympathy for the Record Industry) would fit right in on any volume of Romulan Records' excellent Girls in the Garage compilations of obscure '60s acts.
Ultimately, the Girlz Garage tour may prove to be a lot more fun than Holly and Ko's tour, despite the dubious motivations behind its existence. But for those who like their rock grimy and authentic, the hot, sweaty Mercury Lounge and Southpaw will be where it's at in October, not big, airy Irving Plaza. However, regardless of the venue's shape or size, this fall, a woman's place is in the garage.
The Girlz Garage takes place October 24 at Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 212-777-1224. Holly Golightly, supported by Detroit's Ko and the Knockouts, performs October 17 at the Mercury Lounge, 217 East Houston Street, 212-260-4700, and October 20 at Southpaw, 125 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-230-0236.
BOWERY BALLROOM, 6 DELANCEY STREET, 212.533.2111
The Distillers are teetering on the verge of something. Fresh off of Lollapalooza, with their major-label debut, Coral Fang, due out this fall, and gravel-voiced frontwoman Brody Armstrong on the rise as both an alt-rock pinup and minor-league tabloid fodder, the vicious Cali punk band just might break on through and change the game. Or they might implode. PHILLIPS
RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, 1260 SIXTH AVENUE, 212.247.4777
Like rubbernecks to a car crash, we can't give up our fascination with Mariah's decline. How will she disgrace herself next? If her last album is any indication, her pipes have collapsed, the multi-platinum battle cry now a mere multi-tracked whisper. Once the pinnacle of pop diva polish, now she's all too human, but more compelling for it. WALTERS