Screaming Females - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Screaming Females - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:
Screaming Females - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Screaming Females - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Guitarist and chief screamer Marissa Paternoster and bassist Mike ‘King Mike’ Abbate were already playing music together back in high school. When Paternoster made the move to New Brunswick for University, they joined forces with drummer Jarrett Dougherty and a legend was born. Remember that band you were in back in high school? Remember how the band split up? Now imagine, in some cool alternate universe, that you stuck together. You stuck together and became New Jersey’s Screaming Females.

Before Paternoster and Co can take to the stage and before my Screaming Females super-fan friend explodes, it’s time for Long Body to get the night started. The Leeds-based two-piece specialise in raw yet melodic fuzz-pop with satisfyingly crunchy grunge chords. The songs bounce along on the back of Hayley Smith’s understated yet passionate vocals and Will Cook’s suitably energetic drumming.

Cook frequently wiping the sweat from his forehead as he laughs and thanks the crowd for coming down early. There’s a tight musical bond between the two musicians and the kind of telepathy that makes a two-piece like this so effective. The songs are clearly fun for both of them while Smith’s lyrics feel particularly cathartic. The last song, she explains, is about her autism and how it affects her making friends. A rather brilliant and confidently delivered set of grunge-pop goodness.

The unhappy hardcore of London’s Scrap Brain comes next. Starting as they mean to go on, the band conjures up a brutal, unholy racket of no-wave noise and growls from vocalist Camille Rearden. It’s like Flipper in a particularly belligerent mood with politicised, punk-rock lyrics and blasts of unforgivingly heavy hardcore. “This face is not my face/ these hands are not my hands” howls Rearden on the brilliant ‘Scrap Brain’ “if I never feel real/ what’s the point in future plans?”

Each fresh barrage of noise tackles another issue, the lyrics taking aim at everything from TERFs to the unacceptably high pollution in London. Rearden’s vocals switching between an almost spoken-word style to yelps and shouts as the band's assault gives us a tense and gloriously discordant sonic pummelling. Confrontational, angry and well-versed in the art of noise; Scrap Brain are exactly what the world needs right now.  In the words of an excitable audience member, “fucking hell, yes!”

With her guitar strapped around her waist, Screaming Females’ Marissa Paternoster kicks things off with the double-whammy of ‘Glass House’ and ‘Extinction’. It becomes abundantly clear that Paternoster is a genuine, 100% certified, guitar hero. Now, you really shouldn’t put musicians on pedestals but how else do you describe the kind of insane riffs and frenzied shredding emanating from the stage?

The band’s sound takes the somersaulting guitars of prime-time Dinosaur Jr and straps it to claustrophobic, passionate post-punk. Paternoster’s vocals are dramatic and, much like her axe skills, highly accomplished. Perhaps unsurprisingly considering the band’s name, Paternoster also has one hell-of-a- scream. Marissa may be the star of the show but there’s no denying that Screaming Females are an unbelievable three-piece, Dougherty and Abbate creating lithe and limber rhythms for her impassioned wail. Yeah, these guys definitely know what they’re doing.

Veering between tight, dynamic songwriting, wild wig-outs and instrumental detours; everything the band does feels natural and unrestrained. You can almost picture them at band practice, still loving jamming together after all these years. All of this makes for an undeniably exciting live show, the band clearly at the very top of their game.

There’s very little in the way of stage banter, every ounce of energy is put straight into the performance. It’s a sound rammed with breath-taking solo’s, blurry fingered shredding and, most importantly, tonnes of heart. Not one second is wasted; from the ridiculously energetic, frantic post-punk thrills of ‘Baby Jesus’ to the celebratory and catchy delights of ‘I Don’t Mind It’.

The band has given it their all tonight and Paternoster must have one or two blisters on her fingers but she doesn’t leave before teaching my super-fan friend how to high-five properly. Apparently, it’s all about the elbow. Now, if only there was a way to get some free guitar lessons.

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