Live: Screaming Females Mix The Classic And The Punk At Bowery Ballroom


Screaming Females w/ Shellshag, Underground Railroad to Candyland, Hilly Eye
Bowery Ballroom
Saturday, October 8

Better than: Going to the gym.

After nearly an hour of playing, the Screaming Females ducked offstage for a minute of rest, a drink of water, and a chance to regroup before the encore that the crowd was stomping, cheering, and hollering for. The New Brunswick natives had just finished “I Don’t Mind It,” and although the night’s energy had finally exploded into some good-natured moshing one song earlier, the tune dissolved the pit by offering a hook—essentially, the title line repeated x4—that the crowd couldn’t help but return to their places and sing along.

As it turned out, that crowd, as dedicated as it was, turned out to be a little small for the Bowery Ballroom, almost everyone able to fill its stage area without touching a single stranger’s shoulder. And as nice as it was to meet up with some friends after the show’s 1:00 a.m. conclusion without being covered in sweat (mine or otherwise), that pit would likely have formed at least half-hour earlier (probably right around the time Jarrett Dougherty launched into the Breeders bassline from “Fall Asleep,” another favorite from 2010’s Castle Talk) had conditions been more suitable.

The Females (Dougherty on drums, King Mike on bass, Marissa Paternoster on guitar/vocals), on the other hand, had no problem filling the space, their airtight rhythm section and Paternoster’s almost virtuosic soloing easing the transition from who-gives-a-fuck DIY venues to larger concert halls (not to mention the main stage at last year’s Siren Festival). In fact, those DIY roots belie a style that often seems to draw from the classic rock one finds on Q104.3 as much as the ’80s college radio scene with whom the band is more often associated. Watching her in concert, her left hand dancing around the fretboard, her body dropping to its knees to emphasize another impressive solo, the influence of the former is unmistakable.

So, after nearly an hour of songs, each massive enough and played with enough gusto to have you worried that it would be the band’s last, the Screaming Females stepped off stage and came quickly back for an two-song encore that was both expected and earned. The crowd, capitalizing on their on chance to regroup, quickly formed two mosh pits that by closer “I Believe in Evil” had coalesced into one. By the end my skin even showed a little sweat, although I’m not totally sure whose it was.

Critical bias: Came in part to finally see Hilly Eye, but since they went on stage three hours before Paternoster and crew, I missed most of their set.

Random notebook dump: My notebook was particularly indecipherable: If anyone knows a guitarist named Mivsillo, Paternoster apparently reminded me of him/her.

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