[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Much is made of Screaming Female’s frontwoman Marissa Paternoster’s guitar playing, and rightfully so[/inlinetweet]. Her technique is hard to match, but while she can shred like it’s nobody’s business, she has an intuition that makes Screaming Female’s music interesting and tactful rather than a wanton display of her skills.
Live, however, you can’t downplay the significance of the band’s rhythm section. The bass in particular contributes so much to the propulsion of each song, and is what gives their set a punk feel, even though Paternoster’s riffs take them far away from that territory.
This is a band with enough confidence to turn their backs to the audience, to repeatedly form a tight circle around drummer Jarrett Dougherty’s kit and play for themselves, and yet their energy is fantastic. Because when they are facing the audience, Paternoster twists her body in determined, broad movements and swings her hair with a tact that could only have been learned by watching MTV in the early 90s, and enough sweat is flung off of bassist King Mike’s hair to make us all feel a little gross but in a largely good way.
But there’s a huge shift with the intro to “Hopeless.” It’s the first time we really hear Paternoster’s voice clearly, and it’s rich and soulful and quickly supplanted once again by her usual growl.
They end the night first with King Mike handing off his bass to an enthusiastic young man and giving him an impromptu lesson. Paternoster steps off the stage and the two pair crumple to the floor before she, too, hands off her guitar for another member of the audience to take over. It’s fun, an anti-rock star move worth a good laugh (and given the monetary and potential sentimental value of one’s instruments, it’s brave, too), and it brings the night to a definite if surprising close.