A few years ago, April 21st 2015 let’s be exact, Screaming Females rocked out at the tiny Roadhouse shortly before the place closed its doors for good. My friend’s band was supporting much to my surprise (to the surprise of many), The Slovaks. They even thought I’d come out especially for them, which was kind of cute. The Screaming Females played to a rather small crowd, but the guitar feedback filled any gaps in the room. They were crunchy.
At the end of the set, a friend said to me ‘they’re good, but not as good as I thought they would be.’ I dismissed it at that point, but later I was kind of coming to the same conclusion. Screaming Females have stories about how wild they are as a live set, playing on top of tables, in the midst of crowds, right up there in your face. The Roadhouse is small, but they kept the stage, no antics on display. So of course, three years later, I had to go see them again at the Soup Kitchen, another chance for the basement dwelling legends to come forth.
At the Soup Kitchen show it was business as usual for the Screaming Females, being awesome as they played new things from ‘All In One‘, and old things pulled from everywhere else. They played their indie rock sounds as well as before, the kind that are a little bit punk, a little bit indie,sometimes there is screaming, sometimes it goes soft.
To me they sound a little bit like a kick ass version of Paramore, a description I use which often puts everyone off when I say it, or offends the few Paramore fans I stumble upon. So it goes. But the band and their shredding, it felt more whole than back when at the Roadhouse, and I think I know why.
Before the main act played away, they had a Manchester based support act called Ill, mixing punk rock with out there on stage antics. They did all those punk rock things, the kind that sound wild, nutty, and make for a night to remember when you hear about them long after, but in reality it felt staged, which is as un-punk rock as can be. Maybe pre-warning shoving is necessary in 2018, and isn’t that a shame? There is only so much floor rolling you can take at the Soup Kitchen, those floors must be smooth.
Screaming Females were no-nonsense in comparison, but those songs are so great, the screamers and the more melodic singalongs. I realised that they didn’t need to act out , it’s all in the music. And when Marissa passed her guitar into the crowd so casually at the end, letting fans have a go with the strings, that was the moment of no control, for who can predict what a stranger will do?
It’s perhaps unfair to use the support to highlight why the main act were so great, the band were fine at doing that riot grrrl thing, but after hearing all those stories I’ve come to realise that such chaos shouldn’t be an expectation, it all comes secondary. You just hear stories, and then those stories build, and when the stories don’t align with reality, what happens? Yeah, you got it.
All you need is rock. And the Screaming Females have plenty of that.