“First and foremost we want to make the show as good as it can be.”—Marissa Paternoster, guitar and lead vocals
“The reason for us to go on tour is to go play music.”—Jarrett Dougherty, drums
“If you’re going to be in a band you should want to play shows, right? I mean what the hell is the point if you’re not going to play?”—Michael Abbate, bass
(Quotes taken from Noisey’s recent tour documentary)
New Jersey’s Screaming Females may have started as a punk rock band, but they currently are just a rock band. But not “just”, they have distilled the mere essence of rock, consumed it, and ooze it out of their every being. The rhythm section powers through every tune like their lives depend on it, which I suppose they do in a way. Abbate’s bass work is melodic yet driving. Dougherty’s drumming is not needlessly flashy, but tight and controlled with just the right bounce. Paternoster’s guitar work is nothing short of phenomenal. The riffs. Oh my god the riffs. These are riffs that cannot possibly be written. They already exist somewhere to be discovered, and she has discovered them, somehow, somewhere. Guitars exist so these can be played. Her solos explode from her guitar seemingly effortlessly. Her singing feels a little forced, but in the best possible way. It’s like she is creating a voice that is not her own, simply because it is the perfect voice to accompany the music.
Midway through their hourlong set Saturday night at the Bug Jar, a ragged and sweaty man collapsed against the wall next to me, hunched over with his arm on his head. I thought he might collapse, or perhaps be messed up on too much drugs. After asking if he was ok, he looked up at me, smiled, and assured me he was just exhausted. He caught his breath, and seconds later jumped back into the maddening mass of people. The club was acting as one organism, pulsating in and out, back and forth, bodies knocking against each other with reckless abandon. When you left the show that night, you had the sweat of a dozen other people dripping off your skin. The line between the stage and the crowd was blurred, the audience regularly pushing past the edge of the stage. Paternoster took a couple of solos leaning out while the crowd supported her, once in a full-out crowd surf. And Abbate, at once point, called up a friend from the audience, quickly taught him the bass line, handed over his guitar, and then ran out into the crowd to see how it was on the other side, jumping around and screaming, like a fan of his own band. Later he exuberantly lead us in the post set encore chant. The band was having as much fun as the audience, our energies were equalized, the entire room was one.
Screaming Females yearn to put on the best possible show every night. On this night, I can confirm, they damn well succeeded.