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A Night of Guitar Rock at The Bowery Ballroom

June 23rd, 2009

Spinnerette/Band of Skulls/the Gay Blades – The Bowery Ballroom – June 22, 2009

When I ran into the Gay Blades’ Clark Westfield at last week’s Metric show, he squealed with excitement at the prospect of playing The Bowery Ballroom for the first time. Well, last night, the NYC-based duo put on a rockin’, cherry-poppin’ show. Westfield (vocals and guitar) and drummer Puppy Mills play trash pop—the result of two wannabe hipsters without a bass player, but making up for it with loads of confidence. However, perhaps what sets them apart most from the legions of other two-person noise-making bands out there is what they have to say—both in their humorous live show and their witty, often wordplay- and metaphor-filled lyrics. “O Shot,” which features some hard-hitting drums from Mills, had more than a few fans rocking out hard.

The three-piece Band of Skulls, from London, played a tight, grungy retro-rock set, though a bit more subdued than either of the bands they shared the stage with. Front woman and bassist Emma Richardson mesmerized with howling vocals and an oh-so-cool swagger.

The headliner, Spinnerette, featuring ex-Distillers members Brody Dalle and Tony Bevilacqua, on vocals and guitar respectively, put on their own rockin’ show—almost unexpectedly because the record’s sound is a bit more toned down and moody. All eyes were on Dalle. Years ago, she was quite obviously still coming into her own, perhaps somewhat left in the shadow of her famous then-husband, Tim Armstrong of Rancid. However, with her transition to a new life, including Queens of the Stone Age front man Josh Homme on her arm and their daughter, Dalle has physically turned from girl to woman in front of our eyes, and her onstage persona has changed to accompany this new image: She’s seemingly softened over the years, and perhaps it’s because she no longer carries a guitar onstage, instead spending more time dancing and crooning rather than shredding and screaming. Interestingly, Dalle still has the adoration of her fans—many girls sported haircuts similar to Dalle’s previous styles, and the starry-eyed boys pushed up front to sing her lyrics right back to her. Overall, it was a great night of loud, distorted guitar rock. —Kirsten Housel

Photos courtesy of Kirsten Housel