Death Valley Girls At The Lodge Room, With Kate Clover, Crocodiles, Saturday November 23rd 2019
Death Valley Girls at the Lodge Room:
I went to another Death Valley Girls’ show at the Lodge Room, after reading a burning Twitter exchange between Grimes and Zola Jesus, disagreeing about the future of live music – Grimes thinks live music will become obsolete as it will be soon replaced by A.I. generated music (while probably being performed by holograms?) whereas Zola Jesus, while calling Grimes the ‘voice of silicon fascist privilege’, is reiterating the importance of the live experience (‘performing live music rituals is my lifeblood’) as an essential human exchange. This is a huge debate right now, and if Grimes could be right in the future, last night’s show was the best example of the importance of live shows. If the next generations opt for A.I. generated music, they will never know what they are missing out, as a Death Valley Girls show is the most hugging and loving experience you will ever attend, and so far, no computer or robot is able to replicate this.
Before them, Kate Clover opened the night with a set backed up by Crocodiles. Kate, who used to be in the band Ex-Sage, recorded this brand new music in Mexico City. Produced by Brandon Welchez of Crocodiles, this was far away from Ex-Sage’s stoner rock sound, as this new solo work resonated like a new version of punk new wave, fast and catchy, unapologetic and unrestrained, delivered in elegant high heels, with a touch of Blondie or the Ramones. Her vocals may have been a bit too buried in the guitars at the taste of some (not her fault), but her performance was totally badass and impressive, as the woman knows a little about rock & roll moves whether she plays guitar or holds the mic. Raw and directly spit on your face, the songs had this punk rock drive that doesn’t need too much introduction but always works its way to your entire body with rumbling guitars, hooky choruses, and infectious hair shaking.
Crocodiles traded their tuxedos for leather jackets and played a set of their own music filled with reverb, fuzz, and giant hooks. I remember seeing them years ago, at a time when they were accused to borrow a bit too much from the classics, especially The Jesus and Mary Chain’s school, but their big psychedelic sound worked marvelously inside the Lodge Room. They chose their moniker after an Echo & the Bunnymen’s album, so they are obviously carrying their ‘80s punk influences on their sleeves. The songs often bloomed to power chords, harshly beaten by restless drumming but propelled by powerful guitars and layered compositions. It was an elaborated mix of aggression, krautrock and garage rock psychedelia, which surely could build plenty of summery anthems. Within being too knowledgeable with their material, each song sounded a bit familiar and a bit adventurous at the same time, but always engaging in a very foot-tapping-head-banging way, while the audience was responding with plenty of enthusiasm, ‘You are awesome’ told us frontman Brandon Welchez several times. The crowd was obviously responding to the catchy pop melodies, big and explosive, delivered with an attitude under the loud wall of sound of sharp guitars and controlled chaos.
With one more date in San Diego on Sunday, this was Death Valley Girls’ night and one of the last shows of their tour, that brought them all over the states and even overseas. Their dark, mysterious third-eye, UFO-inspired psych-rock often sounds like the female answer to Black Sabbath and the Stooges, and this was especially true during the witchy duet voices of Bonnie Bloomgarden and Nikki Pickle joined this time by a man in drag for ‘Abre Camino’. No wonder they have been approved by Iggy Pop, who not only play them in his BBC show but also appeared in one of their videos.
With two albums under their sleeves ‘Glow in the Dark’ and the more recent ‘’Darkness Rains’, they performed with their usual rawness, distorted guitars and haunting boogies, beaten down by the loud pounding drumming of new drummer Rikki Styxx. Bonnie, who switched between guitar and organ, blew up the laws of physics (i.e. energy cannot be created or destroyed) and told us we had just created new energy! The set was fist-pumping, punk-driven, melody-empowered and just a bit crazy as it is always the case for Death Valley Girls, while the chaos they commended was barely controlled by the Lodge Room security, which seems much tighter than the ones of the Echo or other venues where I have seen the band before. People wanted to dance and jump, although stage diving was totally prohibited this time. As usual, Bonnie and Nikki did their guitar duels under the spotlights, while Larry Schemel was unassumingly assuring the crunchy guitar riffs in the shadow. Their witchy punk rock was this time particularly appreciated by two very young fans standing next to me, who all-wide-eyed were watching the scene. They may have been just 7 years old, and one of them was holding a ‘Darkness Rains’ vinyl that Bonnie obviously dedicated after the show.
If their show was not missing any entertaining value or glowing-in-the-dark cosmic power with fuzzy grungy guitars, pulsating bass, and formidable drumming, the warmth of a Death Valley Girls gig is all about Bonnie getting in the crowd and hugging people, introducing her mother to the little girl holding the vinyl. They may deliver raucous and intoxicating energy, but they never forgot the human connection and whom they are playing for.
Death Valley Boogie
I’m a Man Too
Disaster (Is What We’re After)
Seis Seis Seis