Some acts you want to see based on their name alone. The Screaming Females became one of those acts for me when they first caught my attention. When I left The Silver Dollar on Friday I concluded that they are without a doubt as endearing their name suggests, and that there exists a contradiction in the name as there is in fact only one female in the band.
Things got started a little later than expected with the first openers The Folk, a six piece psych funk rock band from Guelph Ontario. The eight instruments on stage all balanced in sound nicely, which is always a challenging task. The crowd loved these guys from start to finish. The energy was high throughout the set, radiating from all members of the band, though the bassist in particular looked like he was on cloud nine. People like him make me wonder if bad things could ever happen to someone that positive. I enjoyed watching him throw himself into playing completely, either smiling from ear to ear or swaying emotionally to the more sentimental songs in the setlist. You can’t not have a good time when your watching that. The song writing was dynamic, intricate, extremely heartfelt and unique.
Mardeen took the stage and caught everyone’s attention instantaneously. In terms of songwriting, they blew me away. Their lyrics were strong and their arrangements were enticing. The up beat and very danceable, beautifully melodic power pop had everyone alert and watching, but barely engaging. I think this was due in part to the strange stage banter. It might have made sense to the band – although I’m not sure – but it was totally lost on the audience. It felt like Mardeen played more at us than to us. Regardless, keep an eye out for this exceptional Cape Breton based four piece.
Welcomed to the stage by roaring cheers and applause from fans came Screaming Females. Pretty quickly, a sea of head-banging heads could be seen in every direction. Marissa Paternoster is a wild child armed with a Stratocaster. She must have had one in the womb because that is the only possible reason I can think of to explain her skill level. The drone of her vocals was powerful and entrancing. Sometimes while singing she had this look in her eyes like she could have been staring down the devil and winning. Face-melting solos came from Paternoster’s guitar in close intervals while fans belted out lyrics with her. Heavy, brilliantly arranged baselines and crashing pummelling drums were other necessary and fantastic aspects of the Female’s live presence. Due to requests being taken, the set went much longer than intended, but no one seemed to mind in the least. Everyone was along for the ride as long as there was one.
Something I really liked about being in the crowd was that Screaming Females put on a show like they weren’t putting a show. It felt like they were there to share an experience more than to entertain. Their demeanor made it feel like we were all there on the same level, breathing the same air. The only difference between the people on stage and the people watching was that the people on stage had something important and relevant to express to their observers. I have my own take on what that message might have been, but it’s something that can only be deciphered by taking in the music.
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Review by Thea McKay