Screaming Females Perform Like The Internet Has Yet To Exist
Posted: by The Editor
As Screaming Females frontwoman Marisa Paternoster fumbled with the mic stand prior to their set last night in Pittsburgh, she tongue-in-cheekily remarked about Rage Against the Machine while bassist King Mike rhythmically toyed with his cable’s feedback. It was a funny, well-timed quip during those awkward few seconds when a band has taken the stage to a room silent with anticipation, and it earned a hearty chuckle from the 200-strong crowd that was packed into Mr. Roboto Project, a small yet legal DIY venue in a hip neighborhood in Pittsburgh.
Paternoster was clearly being sarcastic with the reference, and one of the reasons it landed so well was the underlying notion that RATM and the Screamales are of completely different worlds, and that a mention of them within the DIY punk realm comes prepackaged with irony. The felicity was certainly unintentional, but prefacing their set with a nod to one of the last true “rock ‘n roll” bands to see widespread success was a particularly fitting scene-setter for the performance that ensued.
Between a hand-made sign on Paternoster’s cab that read, “Get Off The Internet”; a set chocked with sweltering, improvised guitar solos and miniature one-off jam sessions; a version of the piano-based “Deeply” that was rearranged for just guitar, bass and drums; and other than the brief intro, a sparing level of stage banter that culminated with an abrupt ending, a thankless walk-off and a refusal to encore; the Screamales were reminiscent of a bygone era.
Unlike the dominant aesthetic of contemporary rock music being modesty, where bands are practically expected to be outwardly humble and deliver a bouquet of sweet thank-you’s throughout their set, the Screamales perform like their sole job is to blow your mind. They don’t come across as arrogant or conceited, in fact they’re probably more shy than many of their peers, but they play with a level of self-importance that’s perfectly warranted—given there’s 200 folks in there to see them shred—albeit strangely rare in today’s DIY climate. Instead of filling the gaps with tepid chatter, they’d rather just fucking play—and play hard.
Patternoster’s ripping solos, which there were a countless many of, were as much for herself as they were for the crowd. One moment she’d be cranking power chords and howling into the mic stand, occasionally crackling into a piercing shriek, and the next she’d be knelt down next to her amp just galloping up and down the fret board. There’s a sense of self-absorption that’s necessary for a display as awe-inspiring as hers, a level of focus and disregard of her surroundings that allows her to accomplish what she does on stage. Although the timid character she was opposing isn’t new, and definitely has its time and place, it was incredibly refreshing to see a band unabashedly break that mold and just let loose. There was no rock star persona, no hint of sex or drugs, and no cavalier swagger or tasteless shock value. Just a tight-ass set of punk rock and nothing more.
The Screaming Females aren’t consciously attempting to hark back to the good ole days or pull from retro playbooks on a sonic level. They sound relevant, fresh and distinct to their own generation. It’s kind of weird to think that a confident power-trio is innately evocative of a different time period, but conversely, as long as the Screamales are around, then that entire notion will be defied.
Eli Enis | @eli_enis
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