Sunday, November 30, 2008

Women in Rock? Women DO Rock!

I've spent most of my life seeking out female role models in the world of rock 'n' roll, usually to be disapointed by the "VH1 Top 100 Women in Rock." Have you noticed that, about 90 of those women don't really "rock" at all? If you think Lisa Loeb or Alanis Morisette represent women's ability to bring the noise, you are missing out on what true female rockers are made of. Unfortunately, the women who hold their own in this male-dominated genre go mostly undiscovered by those of us who need that kind of inspiration. However, every so often, a female musician comes along that makes me proud of my gender and want to kick some ass in the pit.

On November 21, 2008 I headed down to 924 Gilman (again) and spent a few hours with some very intense and hard-rockin' women.

The show was a five-band bill consisting of Strains of the Apocalypse, California Love, Lack of Interest, Voetsek, and Mind of Asian. No shortage of fast punk rock in this setting.

I have nothing to say about Strains of the Apocalypse and California Love. Both bands lacked the energy and power I was burning for that night. They did nothing to excite my soul. They were forgettable, at best.

Lack of Interest is usually a fast and furious 20 minutes of mayhem, but they were off the mark on this particular night. Some might blame technical issues on their lack-luster performance, the guitarist could not set the borrowed amp to his liking. I would have to disagree with the problem being technical though. I've seen Lack of Interest a few times and they are always a hit-or-miss kind of band. I've seen them blow everyone away with their overabundance of energy and I have seen them just "phone it in." This show was just another flop for them.

By the time Voetsek took the stage, I was starting to regret bringing my friend to this show, since I promised him a night of crazy fun. Luckily, Voetsek salvaged my reputation by showing everyone how it's really done. Here's where the female musician stuff comes into play. Voetsek is female-fronted with a female bass player. This band kicks ass! They are thrash metal gods! While the overall sound of Voetsek is amazing, it's the raspy, balls-out screaming of lead singer, Amy Lawless, that really pushes the band over the edge. Their energy is through the roof and they never disappoint.

The headliner of the night was Mind of Asian, an all-female Japanese hardcore band. Here is an example of how women bring the noise. They are not, "good for a girl-band." They are awesome, period. These ladies fully encompass all that I love about my gender. They are fast and tight and not afraid to run with the boys. They showed up every penis-touting band in the club that night. Who says girls don't know how to thrash?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

UGZ Speed Trials 2008

On March 22nd, 924 Gilman Street in Berkley hosted the 5th Annual UGZ Speed Trials. Eight bands blasted their way through less than four hours of short, fast, and loud. Each band was given a 15 minute set limit in which to prove to the raucous crowd of punk rockers that they were the fastest and best band of the night. All of the bands lived up to the Speed Trials legend.

In 2002, Urban Guerrilla Zine started the Speed Trials in order to showcase some of the bands they had been promoting for. Voetsek won the first ever Speed Trials and the show has continued every year since.

This year's winner was Pretty Little Flowers from Texas. They played tight and fast and had the crowd in a frenzy by the second song. P.L.F. has been around since 1999 and have partnered with the likes of Uzi Suicide and Unholy Grave for split 7" releases.

Although they one second place instead of first, Noisear stole the show with their unbelievable showcase of what it means to be a grind band. With layered and varying vocal styles, sung by the three up front, and a blasting, popping snare sound, this band brings the speed. They gave the best performance of the night.

Another star of the night that deserves mentioning is Thousandswilldie from the Bay Area. Their songs were a bit too short, even for the Speed Trials, clocking in at 20 to 30 seconds each. They fit 25 songs in their 15 minute set, including the time it took to pour fake blood all over the crowd and light the drum set on fire. Twenty seconds is just not long enough to get into a song, especially when the singer has such an awesome, piercing vocal style.

Self Inflicted opened the night and Superbad, In Disgust, and 50/50 also filled the evening with mayhem. Despise You closed the night with an extra long set. They played their alloted fifteen minute set as well as Lack of Interest's spot, since they didn't bother to show up. It was never mentioned why the headliner of the night never made it to the show, but since Lack of Interest is from sunny So. Cal, they will probably be back this way soon.