By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
By Steve Weinstein
By Araceli Cruz
They were fucking awesome! Write that down! barked a dude with potato-chip breath half an inch from my face when he saw me scribbling away during the Donnas set at the Highline Ballroom. Normally, his fragrant remark wouldve been poorly received. But I was in complete agreement: The Donnas were all that and a bag of chips. The Bay Area quartet recently gave the finger to major labels, started their own record company (Purple Feather), and released the aptly titled Bitchin14 tracks of big-hair, arena-worthy, horns-in-the-air rock n roll. Nothing more, nothing less. Its perhaps the album they always wanted to make, but their own musical limitations and/or oppressive label heads prevented. Watching them fling their sweaty manes onstage, it became abundantly clear that Bitchin isnt merely a rock albumits a gospel album. These four women positively worship rock n roll. Theyre followers of a doctrine founded by Cinderella, Guns N Roses, Poison, et al. This is the bread and butter they were raised ontheres nothing ironic to gawk at, so all you blaspheming dicksticks sporting Warrant T-shirts for shits and giggles can take a hike. Todays hard-rock landscape is parched (Velvet Revolver blow, okay?), and Bitchin detonates a dam.
As refreshing as the Donnas are, there is definitely something methodical about their approach to celebrating rock n roll. For better or for worse, they unwaveringly honor traditionfrom Donna As hand-on-hip stance to the almost stoic thunder of their new single Dont Wait Up for Me. Every note of Wasted, Like an Animal, and What Do I Have to Do rang out with aplomb. The stiffness was evident, if unintentional. But there was an unabashed love and fervent desire to share their enthusiasm that mattered more. All you had to do was join the myriad fans pumping their fists in the air in time to the beat while bellowing all the lyrics. And when the Donnas covered Ratts Round and Round, no one that I could see looked anything less than freakin psyched.
A respected rock writer recently opined that Bitchin was so much in the vein of Def Leppard and Van Halen, he felt the Donnas were unfortunately straddling parody status. I dont know if hes right, but after tonights show, I can confidently say that I couldnt give less of a shit. The Donnas could sit on parodys face for all I care. Their love of and devotion to rock n roll is real; their love for and devotion to each other is real. Screw semantics. Come on, feel the noise.