LA’s goth-psych warriors known as Death Valley Girls turned out an impressively scorching set at Greenpoint, Brooklyn’s metal bar supreme, Saint Vitus. The band was originally formed back in 2013, and they initially received a lot of attention for drummer Patty Schemel of Hole fame being a member, but she went on to bands like Upset, and rest of these younger starship troopers went rocketing onto other interstellar worlds at mind-bending speeds. Founding singer Bonnie Bloomgarden and guitarist Larry Schemel both still pilot the ship through the stars as the power core, but it is readily obvious that it’s the sisterhood between the badass rocker sprite Bonnie, gothy goddess bassist Nicole “Pickle” Smith, and the new beaming drummer Rikki Styxx that really propel the ship.
The local Brooklyn troupe Groupie opened the show, and I must admit I cannot get enough of this new hard-hitting trailblazer of a band. This impressive garage rock outfit is built around the powerful partnership of dueling frontwomen guitarist Johanna and bassist Ashlorp, and their sound rages with an anti-capitalist wail and pro-feminist empowerment roar. They put the riot back in riot grrrl, as the whole ensemble slickly slides through funky disco thumps, punk thrash-outs, and enchanting vocals that can quickly become darkly haunting harmonies. They even kicked out a song sung in Polish that went well in this neighborhood that is largely inhabited by Poles and Eastern European immigrants. The newer members of the band really helped supply a hearty amount edgy power, and I seriously can’t get enough of their latest EP Validated, and I can’t wait to hear more!
The Craig Brown Band came up next, and they made for an unusual, albeit delightfully hilarious, change of pace for the show. At first, I would have thought this country and rockabilly crooner would have been better suited as an opener for The Reverend Horton Heat or Southern Culture On The Skids, but it turned out to be not so surprising that this Midwest cowboy actually came up in Detroit’s punk scene in a hardcore band called Terrible Twos, and there was definitely a not so subtle twinge of the absurd behind the guitar pickin’, cowboy boot wearin’, and horribly swearin’ hoedown sound. He didn’t always seem to fit in with the show’s female-heavy theme, and he often didn’t seem all that comfortable on stage, but when he starting wailing out a heartbroken ballad or a kicking up a giddy-up guitar solo, he felt right down home on the range. They are a band not to be missed, and you just need to grab onto the reins tightly and ride.
When the Death Valley Girls made their way on to the stage, the atmosphere of packed room definitely got hot and sweaty in anticipation for the crazy trip to come. Their new single “Dream Cleaver” just dropped on the Suicide Squeeze label, which follows last year’s killer album Darkness Rains, and I must admit, I have become a smitten devotee to their roaring battle cry. I was previously awed by these rocking trippers as the opening acts for bands like L7, Primal Scream, and Roky Erikson, but this was the first time I’ve gotten to see them headline a show, and the results were just as ridiculously wild and frenzied as I had hoped they’d be. Their sound They actually were supposed to open The Distillers‘ summer tour, but that trek was cancelled after Distillers drummer Andy Granelli injured his hand in a bike accident. However, they’re still set to be on their rescheduled Fall tour, and they’re clearly wasting no time heating up their engines for maximum overdrive. It was adorable how Bonnie, Nicole, and Rikki got along during the show, as they obviously had a delightfully close bond that burned brightly, and it often felt like these three ladies were having the absolute best party of all time, and we were all invited. Their sound is one that lives comfortably between worlds, as they swim in a delicious mix of classic psych and garage, punk and riot grrl, not to mention metal and goth. They are like sailing the stars with Sonic Youth and L7 piloting the ship, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Joan Jet helming the controls, while 13th Floor Elevators and The Black Angels fuel the engines. They played new stuff like their epic banger “Dream Cleaver” from and classics like “Electric High” and “Disaster (Is What We’re After)” from their early days, but when you’re rocking at light speeds like they do on stage, time and space no longer make sense, and you can easily loose track of time.
Article: Dean Keim