It was the Friday of CMJ; everyone is starting to get burned out from going to as many shows as they could muster but they still want to party because it’s Friday. I myself was starting to feel under-the-weather but there was one show Friday that I couldn’t miss: The ATO Records showcase at Knitting Factory. Boy was I glad that I left my dark warm cave of a room that morning to get blown away by all of the amazing talented women that performed that day.
When I walked into the venue, the room was already filling with the incredible rasp-infused croons of Brooklyn based songstress Margaret Glaspy. The newest ATO signee has a girl-next-door type of innocence to her but a grittiness to her voice of a girl who’s been through turmoil. The emotion in her performance is chilling.
“Sorry if I’m a little weird, I’ve been isolating myself lately,” says Jessica Lea Mayfield during her set. The platinum blonde, pixie-goth princess sang with haunting emotion and every time she finished a song, it just seemed like she was going to crumble to pieces after pouring her heart out on the stage. Her songs were eerie and a little depressing – one called “Do I Have the Time” being about whether or not she has time to do her household chores and hang herself before her husband comes home.
The trio of sisters that made up the band Joseph created beautiful harmonies with their angelic sounding voices. Their notes flow together effortlessly and trickle like a stream through the woods out into the audience. I appreciated the simplicity of the three-voice harmony joined with just an acoustic guitar because it allowed for the lyrics to be heard and felt.
Curtains drawn, everyone in the audience waited in anticipation for Thunderbitch (a.k.a. Brittany Howard from Alabama Shake’s side project). As the lights dimmed and smoke filled the room, the curtains spread revealing Howard straddling a motorcycle donning what seemed like a disguise: a black bob wig, cat-eye sunglasses, dark red lips, a leather jacket and topped it off with her face painted white. Right from the start, Howard was running all over the stage, leaning into the crowd while wailing on the top of her lungs.
Thunderbitch surprised everyone earlier this fall by releasing their self-titled album that Howard had recorded in secret with the help from Clear Plastic Masks and Fly Golden Eagle. The band’s style of music reflects that of the 1960s style rock and roll and makes me visualize a gang of greasers smoking out front of the local diner waiting to race their Thunderbirds.
After a short 30 minute set of rock and roll amazingness, Thunderbitch was concealed again by red velvet and the audience was left with not only their faces melted off, but with the remnants of Howard’s own melted face, and her entire heart, strewn about the stage.
Article: Merissa Blitz