By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Last time the Upper East Side native played New Yorkat a March show thrown by DIY promoter Todd P at Third Ward, a dingy performance space on the outskirts of Williamsburgshe did it alone, singing and shredding along to Hill's drum tracks saved to an iPod and plugged into a PA system. Despite this less-than-ideal setup, she charmed an adoring audience of noise fanatics mostly there for the headliner, Lightning Bolt. Armed with a Fender Jazzmaster and a problematic iPod, she plugged in, prepared for the worst, and hoped for the best. "I learned how to plow through anything and keep a smile on my face, so I feel now that I can handle any technical problem," she says. What followed was a whirlwind of sound: bubbly metal, swirling noise, trebly beats, and a blissful voice to tie it all together.
With Hill on board in person now, Stern has a full band for the first time, and seems happy that she's done with the iPod. Playing with Hill and guitarist Robby Moncrieff (whose other band, the Advantage, does speedy covers of eight-bit Nintendo songs) "is entirely different," Stern says. "But the best part about it is you have people to play off ofwe can experiment a little, and that's exciting. We played a surprise show in Sacramento last weekand I thought I'd be a little nervous for the showbut getting up there by yourself is so much more nerve-racking."
Stern is somewhat oblivious to the hype around herThe New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post have joined an army of Internet admirers in gushing about her guitar technique. It's remarkable to think that Stern not so long ago dropped a go-nowhere, be-nobody office gig to focus on her music. "Some of it I'm aware of, because my mother and grandmother are so proud," she says of all the praise. "Because for years, they were really concerned."
Marnie Stern plays July 8 at the Knitting Factory, knittingfactory.com