Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Don Giovanni Records Showcase 2012: Screaming Females, Laura Stevenson & the Cans, For Science, Shellshag, Black Wine

Words and blurry photos by Jason Duarte

Saturday night was the night of THE Don Giovanni Records Showcase; the night when For Science played its reunion set and bands like Black Wine, Shellshag, For Science, Laura Stevenson & the Cans and the Screaming Females joined forces and delivered a sonic tapestry, not to be forgotten any time soon.

There was a line outside of the Williamsburg Music Hall in Brooklyn of excited fans waiting in the frozen February night air for the doors to open. While in line, I met a tall guy from New Hampshire who was none other than Servo from John Wilkes Booth Records, and his girlfriend as well! It was great chatting, and putting a face to the guy behind a great indie label that I ordered from a couple days after that show, had I met him or not.

My favorite Don Giovanni band, Black Wine, played first and they were incredibly orchestrated. The band rotated singing duties throughout the set. I love bands with multiple singers because it adds such depth. Two vocalists is typically tops, but I can't think of any other three-piece band that equally distributes 100% of its lead vocal duties. Black Wine played a new song, that I can't wait to hear on record, and were incredibly tight throughout their set. Jeff, Miranda and Jason are incredibly talented and fun to watch live. It was a perfect set to kick off the night. Watching them go nuts and rock is one of my favorite things ever.

Miranda Taylor (drums/vocals), Jason Nixon (bass/vocals), Black Wine

After Black Wine was Shellshag. The male/female two-piece played facing each other on either side of a custom flying saucer-looking gizmo which held a mic stand shaped like a Y, housed speakers and may have lit up. They also shared vocal duties, but guitarist/vocalist Shell had a majority of vocal duties. Shag was a standing drummer, and she had bells affixed to her ankles and around her waist, making her a one-person, wiggling vocalist/percussionist. At the end of the set, the two made a pretty tall monument of the drums, and knocked it over. It was pretty awesome and they totally embodied that grungy Nirvana-esque way of destroying their stuff.

Shell (guitar/vocals), Shag (drums/vocals), Shellshag

For Science's much-anticipated reunion set was sandwiched in the middle of all the bands Saturday night. The crowd went ape shit for them, particularly when vocalist John Slover began to throw $300 in singles into the crowd. I caught $7, and gave it back to them by buying their freshly-pressed album, Revenge For Hire, as well as Laura Stevenson & the Cans and Screaming Females vinyl after the show. Toward the middle of the set, Mikey Erg jumped up on stage and joined his former band on backups. Vocalist John Slover had to stop and puff on his inhaler between songs because he was getting that into it. I've never seen someone with asthma be a lead singer, but it occurred to me during For Science's set how incredibly hardcore that is. John could have fucking died! Their set was rad, and I want to catch them again. People lost their shit, and it was fun to be a part of that.

Mikey Erg (backup vocals), For Science

John Slover (vocals), Brian Gorsenger (drums) and Zach Gajewski (bass), For Science

A lot of the younger crowd and indie folks lined the front of the stage for Laura Stevenson & the Cans. They're not a punk band, but their involvement with labels like Asian Man and Don Giovanni Records creates this sort of 'scene crossover,' which is really cool in a 'Mods vs. Rockers' way. The show was 16+, so there were a lot of younger girls and dudes alike, which was awesome because it's been a while since I've been to a show that wasn't 21+. There's a different kind of passion and excitement in the air, and I love witnessing that raw emotion and giddiness. Laura Stevenson has a great voice, and her band was very talented. They were captivating, super held together and the set had a lot of depth. Their lead guitarist embodied this folk-y slide guitar style, and they had an accordion player, who was cool to watch. Their set was magnetic, and their dedicated fan base hung on every word and note.

Laura Stevenson (vocals/guitar), Laura Stevenson & the Cans

Screaming Females headlined the Don Giovanni Showcase, and rightfully so. Don Giovanni is releasing the band's new Steve Albini-produced album, Ugly, this year and Saturday night, the band released its 7'' single from Ugly, featuring "It All Means Nothing" b/w "A New Kid." The 7'' was only available at that show, and then the week-or-so-long free record store tour that followed. It has no cover, only a dust sleeve. The new song is incredible, and already a fan favorite at their shows. They made a video for it, which is both hilarious and disgusting. I suggest spending the 4:24 watching it.
Anyway, their set was amazing. They played a lot off Power Move and Castle Talk, my two personal favorite Screaming Females albums. Vocalist/guitarist Marissa Paternoster shreds, and has a horrifyingly addicting scream midst her fragile voice. She plays these intricate lead guitar parts while harmonizing vocals over them, and it rules. Bassist King Mike is memorizing; he utilizes a lot of bass chords and by synchronizing with Jarrett Dougherty's drumming, they keep the song driving forward; perfectly orchestrated. The band has a dark presence. Most obviously, they're all clad in black, but there are other subtleties like Marissa's signature; simply "Marissa," with two upside down crucifixes on either side of her name. Of course, they received an encore, and the crowd lost its shit once more, and the band left the stage after throwing down their instruments. The set ended the same way the new video does, with instruments and gear left behind.
The whole show was awesome, and it seemed like every single person in the venue that night was completely enthralled at at least one point throughout the night. The Screaming Females' set really left me looking forward to Ugly, coming out April 3.

King Mike (bass), Screaming Females

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