Come to Providence
Words: DJ Tax
Photos: Rainey Zimmermann
April 12 2018
Screaming Females stopped by AS220 this weekend. Their lead singer Marissa Paternoster caught up with BRU’s DJ TJax last week in anticipation of the show.
When Screaming Females, the alt-rockers from New Brunswick, NJ, brought their heavy, sludgy, melodic brand of rock ‘n roll to Providence on Sunday, there were no survivors. The Screamales released a deep, primal energy on AS220’s intimate Main Stage.
The openers, Thou, Hirs, and the Assembly of Light Choir each put together respectable, if not asynchronous, sets. But it was clear from the tension that hung in the air after Thou played their last chord of barbeque-sauce drenched doom-metal that everyone was there to hear the headliners. A three-piece that got its start in Rutgers’ DIY scene, Screaming Females have released seven studio albums so far. Their most recent outing resulted in the sprawling, ambitious (and successful) double LP All at Once. The singles “I’ll Make You Sorry,” “Glass House,” and “Black Moon” have been making the alt-rock radio circuit, and the band is nailing down their legacy as basement show heroes (and heroines). But there is more to them than that. Screaming Females are some of the hardest working musicians in the game. They set up their own gear – frontwoman and guitarist Marissa Paternoster’s amp cabinet read “GET OFF THE INTERNET” (yes, that means you), and the bass drum brandished the disembodied head from the cover of All at Once. Before the concert, Paternoster opened up in her interview with WBRU about the atmosphere she wants to engender at her shows: “Our M.O. is to show up and be nice to people.” I didn’t understand what she meant until I saw her shaking hands with audience members after the show. Not only can the woman shred, but she is humble, too.
I must admit, I fanboyed hard when they started playing “Glass House.” But it wasn’t until they poured out the gasoline and struck the match with “Doom 84” that I realized: this is a real live rock ‘n roll band in their absolute prime. The setlist was perfect. The crowd shrieked in ecstatic approval when the band played “Wishing Well.” There was just enough moshing. (This reviewer couldn’t believe his eyes when he reread that sentence. Just enough moshing. Yeah, I dare you to picture that.) Best tune of the evening? “Black Moon.” With All at Once so fresh in our minds, Screaming Females wasted no time in providing ossifying evidence of its status as an instant classic. Another stunning moment was “Empty Head,” a hard hitter which brought out the floor-stomper in all of us. Even the late-middle-aged couple in the third row got down. Hits and deep cuts were played side by side. The band lost exactly none of its power live. If anything, drummer Jarrett Dougherty’s vicious snare hits, bassist “King” Mike Abbate’s electrifyingly nude basslines, and Marissa’s fearsome howl only gained in kinetic energy onstage. Lasting rock memories were made by all.
The group’s show in Providence was the fifth stop in a two-month tour that culminates in Hamburg, Germany. If you are lucky enough to meet the band in, say, Pensacola, FL, be sure to ask to see their inflatable tube-man. They have one. No, actually. In her interview with WBRU’s DJ TJax, Paternoster talked about Catholic school, the most musical cities in the U.S. (spoiler alert: Carbondale, IL and Bloomington, IN made the list), and the plastic arts. Jarrett designed a door, she said, a process that inspired in her a respect for furniture design. We here at BRU respect those arts, too. But, please, keep playing music for a long, long time. What does the future hold for the band? If the past is any indication, great things. Paternoster points out that after Rose Mountain, “I don’t think there was ever any question as to whether or not we were going to make another record. We knew we were going to do that.”
All at Once is the Screamales’ best yet. Buy it, see them in a city near you, and then remember to put the song “I’ll Make You Sorry” on your next breakup playlist. It’s better than any Taylor Swift track by a mile.
Tune into Screaming Females here︎︎︎