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Concert Reviews

Concert Review: All At Once With The Screaming Females

Where: Whammy Bar, Auckland NZ
When: 28 May 2019
Kate Powell

On a quiet Tuesday night, New Jersey indie-rock band Screaming Females triumphantly crash-landed halfway around the world in Auckland’s own Whammy Bar.

With their seventh LP All at Once being lauded as being their best yet by countless critics, the crowd was already buzzing by the time I showed up just in time to catch opening trio REPAIRS.

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REPAIRS

Describing themselves on their Bandcamp as “post-punk with elements of power pop”, they were a band who wore their influences on their band t-shirts and bass straps respectively. REPAIRS are a band whose tight musicianship and whip-smart songwriting would undoubtedly get a nod from IDLES and acts as the perfect undercurrent for their frenetic, raw energy evocative of late, great post-hardcore/emo band, Rites of Spring.

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Musically and visually, MARTY on guitar, NIC on bass and JAMES on drums proved to be a compelling watch. So it was a real shame that REPAIRS were let down by patchy sound that at times completely robbed them of their fervent vocal outbursts or pushed their otherwise melodic guitar work to over distortion. Regardless, the trio powered through with their ethos and stage presence alone enough to get the audience onside ahead of Screaming Females taking to the stage.

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REPAIRS are playing at 95bFM Fancy New Band '19 this Friday, 31 May at Whammy and this reviewer thoroughly suggests you check them out.

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Screaming Females at Whammy Bar, Auckland

Screaming Females are a band who have never been afraid to explore space and texture. Live, this morphs into a sound that manages to be both elegant in its simplicity yet richly layered and anything but bland. Rather than merely bludgeon us with loud noises, there was a sense of purpose that drove each note of each song home, causing the audience to hang off every second.

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Marissa Paternoster

Lead singer and guitarist Marissa Paternoster led the band through a set list dominated by tracks from All at Once. While Screaming Females are a consistent blend of indie-garage rock, their dalliances with lo-fi, alternative rock and post-punk have always been welcomed. The success of their latest offering – and what translated so well onstage - was that this collection of songs is their most mature yet dramatic music yet. It manages to be catchy without sacrificing emotional depth.

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This new direction was perfectly captured in set opener I’ll Make You Sorry. With its anthemic power-pop chorus roughed up by King Mike's ominous bassline snaking around Marissa’s guitar work, this is a song that would not have sounded out of place on a Seattle College radio station in 1994 and whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

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Her [Marissa Paternoster] voice sits somewhere between Tracy Chapman and Eddie Vedder and is a true force in contemporary indie music. Her unique pitch is perfectly paired with her flowing solos that intertwine echo, delay, and reverb with pure rock n’ roll licks to create a sound that berates and liberates the audience.

That Marissa is a gifted artist has already been established in the pages of a thousand music blogs, but it was something else to experience it. Her wispy voice was used sparingly across the night - but it was enough to act as a powerful counterpoint to Marissa’s bestial vibrato. Her voice sits somewhere between Tracy Chapman and Eddie Vedder and is a true force in contemporary indie music. Her unique pitch is perfectly paired with her flowing solos that intertwine echo, delay, and reverb with pure rock n’ roll licks to create a sound that berates and liberates the audience.

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Mike "King Mike" Abbate

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Jarrett Dougherty

Bandmates Jarrett Dougherty on drums, and Mike "King Mike" Abbate on bass were excellent musicians in their own right, building relentless walls of sound only to be shattered by Marissa’s guitar work. There were some welcome moments of respite, notably Bird in Space. However, this drifting gentle ode to classic rock ballads was turned on its head and taken to sludgy depths.

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The highlight of the set was Glass House which unapologetically dropped the audience to the ground with its simple, hard-hitting musicality before yanking us back with evocative, gentle whispers. It was enough to leave us all wanting more and was a masterclass in how to have authority over your audience.

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Screaming Females, please come back soon.

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Radio 13 thanks and credits Reuben Raj from SomeBizarreMonkey for all the images featured on this article.

See Screaming Females during their NZ tour at the following venues:

Weds 29 May - Wellington, San Fran (Eyegum Presents)
Thurs 30 May - Blenheim, The Plant
Fri 31 May - Christchurch, Darkroom
Saturday 1st June - Dunedin, The Cook Music Venue

Tickets available at UnderTheRadar.

Written By: Kate Powell