When seeing a band play in a live setting, the venue they play in is a huge factor in determining whether or not that concert experience is either good or bad. On Sunday night, I ended up going to probably the shadiest part of Pomona (as if the city wasn’t shady enough as it is) to catch New Jersey punk trio Screaming Females at a low-key venue only known as Pomona VLHS. What does VLHS stand for? It stands for Vince Lombardi High School – a tongue-in-cheek, ironic name for a venue since it’s not a high school. It’s more like a room no larger than a studio-sized apartment. But it was a perfect venue for the night because of its DIY aesthetic and the punk bands that it was hosting. What I love about this type of venue is because of its intimacy with not only the bands but amongst the audience. Mainly everyone there knows each other and if you’re a stranger, they’re incredibly nice to you. Oh and did I mention that it’s BYOB?
By the time Screaming Females went on, the crowd was already covered in sweat due to the small capacity of the room and the moshing that went on during the sets of previous bands Boys Who Say No and Toys That Kill. If you weren’t familiar with Screaming Females or seen pictures of them, you wouldn’t expect someone that’s a bit over five-feet tall to be fronting that band. But vocalist/guitarist Marissa Paternoster proves that she’s ferocious with every inch of her body.
Though they weren’t headlining and played only for half an hour, Screaming Females barreled through their set. With their latest album, Ugly, having been released about a month ago, they played a good balance of old and new material. They opened with “Sheep,” a mid-tempo opener that acted as a calm-before-the-storm that showcased their signature musicianship. They immediately jumped into “Rotten Apple” from their latest album which picked up the pace. Paternoster’s vocals harmonized with her guitar during the bridge, which is an impressive feat to pull off in a live setting.
While Screaming Females aren’t comprised of entirely females, the lone female in Paternoster definitely does scream, as evidenced on the oldie “Bell,” belting out a guttural scream during the second verse. The rest of the band consisting of the rhythm section of Jarrett Dougherty (drums) and King Mike Abbate (bass) provide the thick, thumping backbone of the set, driving the madness of Paternoster. Although Paternoster is known for delivering eardrum-shattering riffs, she kicks it up a few notches on “Crow’s Nest” and “It All Means Nothing,” emphasizing the arpeggiated guitar lines with impressive precision. But the real highlight of the night was during set closer “Boyfriend” where she dropped her guitar, grabbed the microphone, and jumped into the crowd to scream and shriek the lyrics in front of the head-bobbing fans. She stepped back on stage to deliver a song-ending guitar solo, much to the delight of the elated audience.
Sunday night proved why Screaming Females are one of the best bands around today. And while their set was short, they definitely made the most of every single second bringing the energy that the crowd fed off of, moshing and crowd surfing to show their appreciation.
I Don’t Mind It
It All Means Nothing