RISE ABOVE: A Voter Registration Benefit Show At The Teragram Ballroom, Sunday September 23rd 2018
You will never insist enough on how important it is to vote, elections are coming up and we can weigh on many important propositions as we still have a democracy… Some people are afraid it won’t last so we should not wait too long. Young voters often neglect the importance of voting, while millennials represented nearly 50% of the entire voter population in 2016! We have the power to change things but we often take the right to vote for granted. In 2016, only 19% of people between the age of 18 and 29 voted during the presidential election, whereas 49% of people between the age of 45 and 64 did vote… does this seem right? Of course not! Young people often neglect to vote, leaving their future in older citizens’ hands, whereas they just could register and vote? This was the purpose of the evening at the Teragram Ballroom last night, a Voter Registration Benefit Show baptized Rise Above, like the Black Flag song, because this upcoming election could be a new tide if youth decides to rise above.
Presented by Dirty Laundry TV & Penniback, the evening featured a long list of performers, a very eclectic lineup of young artists, generously offering their time and art for an essential cause. If you were not at the Teragram last night, you missed the excellent all-girl quartet Ariel View who kicked up the night with their delicate catchy melodies piercing above some explosive drumming. They were sharing vocals, had plenty of harmonies and an upbeat surf-y side, filled with a real melancholia, coming from the deep voice of their main singer, Dulce Zanabria. Despite their Smiths-esque style for most of their set, a few songs had this jazz-y-gypsy-esque romantic tone, working its way through your heart like a Tom Waits song.
Clit Kat were a true riot, fronted by the ferocious screamer Mag Kat, they burned the place down with a chaotic brand of punk/hardcore/dissonant music. Guitars and bass never stopped grinding, and Mag never stopped screaming, before jumping on the floor for a few cartwheels, while her bandmates continued to fuel the chaos with a keyboardist wearing multi heart-shaped sunglasses. Clit Kat were troublemakers, kids looking for disruption and disorder with an unapologetic determination and they were very convincing. I don’t know exactly what she was screaming, but I am pretty sure I heard ‘suck my dick!’ at one point.
The lineup was very diverse but included another punk number, The Side Eyes, fronted by another riot girl Astrid McDonald, a notable rock progeny, as she is the daughter of Jeff McDonald (Redd Kross) and Charlotte Caffey (The Go-Go’s). All-legs and long blonde hair, she was some furious woman, completely in charge while riding with ease the hardcore and abrupt assaults of her bandmates. Like a new wave of Black Flag-inspired youth, they undoubtedly rose the level of energy of the night along with Clit Kat, and it’s always good to see this coming from young women.
What followed was a total change of pace, but this is what an eclectic show is supposed to be. BOYO played a slowly-spreading synth-guitar pop with noises surfacing the dreamy atmosphere of the songs. Singer-songwriter, Robert Tilden, could have an amazing falsetto and even got a bit stormy. They were followed by Fat Tony, who was not fat and not a New York mobster, but rather a Houston rapper shouting his lines over the Ramones and other familiar tunes and expanding his repertoire with his own compositions, an entertaining freestyle dropping many names. Crush was this time only Cole Alexander of The Black Lips minus Zumi Rosow. However, he played his noise-punk country tunes with the same determination and an occasional angry hip-hop song, blending into some hillbilly chicken backyard dark screamer. I knew nothing about Hop Along, but singer Frances Quinlan had certainly a very peculiar way to interpret her moody songs, she had visceral and versatile vocals, especially interesting when she was pushy her voice to some hoarse-y extreme, which was bringing up the level of emotions into her narratives. Hutch Harris of The Thermals closed the long night with a fascinating set. Since his band has disbanded this year, Harris is going solo, and with a very pretty acoustic guitar, he played a few songs loaded with dark to morbid lyrics, while keeping a deadpan face all-set-long and the talking to a minimum. His set went from poignantly disturbing songs (that I didn’t recognize) about killing an entire family or a lover, to some covers such as Pet Shop Boys’ ‘It’s a Sin’, Alison Krauss/Gillian Welch’s ‘I’ll Fly Away’, or They Might Be Giants’ ‘Dead’ in duo with Frances. It was a captivating set, and his rendition of Ariana Grande’s ‘Just a Little Bit of Your Heart’ was as pretty as an Iron and Vine revisiting mainstream pop. I just hope we will be able to listen to more of these, as it was such a pretty way to end the weekend while participating to a great cause.