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Live at the Garrison: A sledgehammer performance from Screaming Females


by Tyler Nanson

Throughout their ample discography, Screaming Females have exemplified a certain talent for harmoniously bringing the more raucous and combustible elements of rock n’ roll together under one roof without somehow burning down the entire neighborhood. Over their 14-year existence, the group has explored everything from garage to grunge, with a solid scattershot shot-gun blast of indie and post-punk to boot. During their gig at the beer-battered bar-room basement that is the Garrison, however, these sounds and influences were torched slowly to the ground by a ferocious onslaught of sheer, in-your-face punk tenacity. It was byway of this punk ethos that the New Jersey-based rockers were able to achieve a unique feat rarely achieved by rock bands of the modern era – to sound dangerous in 2019.

Like with most, Screaming Females have gradually increased their fanbase with each passing record. In 2018, the group’s success reached its current-day crescendo with the heavily-acclaimed All At Once. Hard-hitting, mature, and fully-formed, the record currently stands with an 86/100 on Metacritic. It’s records like these, sporting tracks like “Glass House” that have bolstered the band’s ability to play such modest venues to an entirely immodest fan-base.

“Anges Martin,” another track off All At Once, is a perfect example of the evolution that occurs during Females’ fervent live gigs. On record, the track sounds like what one might imagine being tied to the back of a fender and subsequently dragged through the muck and the mile of a sludgy dirt-road would feel like. It’s muddy and treacherous. Live, these elements are wholly elevated, as all the music-junkies in the front-row can do is feverishly headbang to front-woman Marisa Paternoster’s pummeling guitar, extended solo’s, and guttural vocals.

The task of preventing this whole primitive ritual of performance from collapsing completely is left solely to the steady-as-a-rock drumming of Jarrett Dougherty. Mike Abbate, his rhythmic counterpart, does everything except relieve the barbarism with his rambunctiously crushing basslines. It’s as if at times Paternoster and Abbate are in competition to see who can be the downright dirtiest, and they both win.

Levity was not lost, however, as the Rose Mountain-era track “Hopeless” provided a small dose of tranquility amidst the chaos. Roaring her way through the mid-tempo jaunt, Paternoster growled sentiments such as, “I’m not hopeless, helpless or begging you to stay, It’s just turning out that way” in her nearly indiscernible snarl. Any other gasps of air had to be found in between tracks, as banter was virtually non-existent among both the band and crowd. Instead, those pauses were set-aside for Paternoster to fiddle with and re-weaponize her trademark G&L S-500 ax. Throughout the blistering evening, the Females also burned through other bangers such as “A New Kid” and “I’ll Make You Sorry,” before eventually offering up an appropriately inaudible “thank you” and disappearing into the dead, officially dismal night.

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