Screaming Females have come a long way since rising up through the New Jersey rock scene of the mid 00’s by playing mostly intimate DIY basement and garage gigs in and around New Brunswick. Even though they now play much larger venues across they country, the pandemic concert stoppage of the last year must have seemed like an eternity for this band that never seems to stand still for long. The band’s lead singer, guitarist, and only female (who really only occasionally screams) Marissa Paternoster has been very active during the lockdown, as she is set to release her first solo album Peace Meter in December, she plays with another band called Noun that just dropped a new EP In The Shade a couple months ago as well as been playing some live gigs as of recent. She’s also an accomplished artist (her illustrations grace all of their releases) and recently released another graphic novel called Merriment. As for The Screaming Females, the trio she shares with a couple of guys Jarrett Dougherty on drums and Mike “King Mike” Abbate on bass, they released an EP called Chalk Tape at the end of last year, and now they’re now doing a short run of East Coast shows in October and November, and also they recently announced a rather huge Garden Party show at White Eagle Hall in February of next year with supporting female-led power houses like Mannequin Pussy and Oceanator.
I got to catch their second of two sold out shows at the north Brooklyn metal bar Saint Vitus, and opening the show this night was their long-time comrades and Don Giovanni label-mates Shellshag. This duo of guitarist/singer John “Shellhead” Driver and the boundlessly energetic singer/drummer Jennifer Shagawat have been going strong since the late 90’s and have always also always had their hand in many pots. They just released a full LP called Follow Up The Quest, they run their own side label called Starcleaner, and they have a video studio where they record a show called Shag-O-Vision (among many film and multimedia projects), but for a band that is used to touring relentlessly, they couldn’t help but remark multiple times about how strange it is to be playing their first gig for well over a year. For those shell-shocked uninitiated in the room this night, they were largely surprised and amused by their show’s set design, one in which they have been known for quite some time, that has the to the duo playing while facing each other perched over a self-contained speaker, lighting, mic stand, drumming station, and generally distracting monolith machine separating the two in the center of the stage that brightly displays their name. The two played many of their best party anthems like “90’s Problem,” “Face To Face,” “Forever,” and “Resilient Bastard,” as some great new tracks. Those who are experienced in the ways of the Shellshag knew that it was coming, but the duo did end up their show by triumphantly stacking all of their instruments in a giant pile in the middle of the stage as they are known to do.
“Wow, can’t believe we get to play shows after so many months!” said Paternoster on Twitter about the shows ahead of time, and as the trio took to the stage, they were clearly still awed by the powerful response to the shows, as they whipped up packed room into a frenzy with their passionately erratic energy. Paternoster wails on the guitar like no one else, and is still truly one of the modern day axe masters, and her voice howls and growls like a rock monster, which makes her one of the most formidable frontwomen in the rock world today. They also played a mix of older classics like “Hopeless,” “It All Means Nothing,” and newer tracks. It was a powerful night of rock and potent reminder of how much passion a good concert can stir up in a music fan.
Article/Images: Dean Keim