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Mannequin Pussy, Automatic And Margaritas Podridas At The Troubadour, Thursday December 1st 2022

Mannequin Pussy
Mannequin Pussy

With ticket prices going through the roof (when you can get one), it’s always tempting to catch a free show. Thursday night, Dr. Martens, the famous brand that has provided shoes for punk feet for years, had organized a killer lineup at the Troubadour. A reservation was not a guaranteed entry, and despite the inconvenience of a LA rainy weekday, the line outside the club was already impressive almost two hours before the show. “We can all agree that corporations suck, so it’s very cool when they put on a free show for the people,” frontwoman Marisa Dabice told us. Her band Mannequin Pussy was the headliner, but the night was quite a wild ride, right from the start

Mexican grunge band Margaritas Podridas (Rotten Daisies) opened the night with impressive grungy distortion mixed with dark shoegaze. Dressed up in a baby doll dress, bassist-vocalist Carolina Enriquez was leading the ferocious quartet with raging screams or guttural vocals. It was so loud that I could not make much sense of the lyrics, but they may have been in Spanish and English, while the rest of the set was a vision of floating blonde hair, raucous guitars, loud noise, and Dr. Martens kicking the air. A few songs sounded a bit more ferocious than the others, but the overall impression screamed punk rebellion and chaos, with abrasive guitar riffs, a flamboyant delivery, and inspirations coming from Nirvana, Sonic Youth, or Hole (the dresses!). Margaritas Podridas were part of the recent Goldenvoice festival, This Ain’t No Picnic, in Pasadena, which means they certainly want to make it in the US.

Automatic was certainly calmer but still captivating. It was not my first exposure to the indie trio, which played their clever mélange of post-punk, krautrock, electronic, synth punk, and beyond. With Izzy Glaudini on synths, Lola Dompé on drums, and Halle Saxon on bass, Automatic is minimalist as the hypnotic songs are simply built around throbbing bass, restrained drumbeats, and buzzing synths. The three women sounded like a well-oiled chilly machine, working with mechanical precision, and motorik rhythms while keeping an immutable attitude, mixing up shades of New Order (or even Devo), some post-punk morbidity, and psychedelic goth-rock – Lola Dompé is Kevin Haskins’s daughter, drummer of Bauhaus. If Izzy Glaudini was the main singer, delivering lyrics with some deadpan melancholic vocals, Lola sometimes took the lead with some high-pitched notes and ventured to the front of the stage, making graceful moves in front of a drum machine. It should not come as a surprise that the all-female band takes aim at corporate culture, isolation, and alienation, something quite expected after these pandemic years, but they do it with their own original twist and plenty of hooks… at least I recognized several songs from previous shows: “Signal,” “Automaton,” “Too Much Money,” “Suicide in Texas,” but they probably were other ones. The trio’s robotic focus was surely contrasting with the chaotic rawness of the next act, Mannequin Pussy.

All set long, frontwoman Marisa “Missy” Dabice mixed sweet vocals that she was delicately singing to the front rows (as if she was a confessional artist) with loud cathartic screams immediately backed up by a crowd in fury. The performance was indeed almost entirely played with her confronting the audience, while all the arms tried to reach her out. After just a few minutes, it was very easy to understand what kind of performer she was, constantly feeding her raw energy to the crowd and getting her part of thrill from the enthusiasm of the people who were yelling all the lyrics. From start to finish the performance had unbelievable energy and being stuck between an amp and the pushing front row of people who were constantly bouncing and head-banging was one of these very familiar situations. I was at a punk show after all. Besides songs from their albums “Romantic” (2016), “Patience” (2019), and “Perfect (2021),” there was at least one new song, but the numbers piled up in such a furious hurry that it was hard to tell. Aggressive delivery would be an understatement, the show was a succession of raging eruptions as Dabice was absolutely holding nothing back, spitting her emotionally charged lines over our heads for everyone’s delight. Her intense delivery was serving very well their mélange of raw vulnerable lyrics with an explosion of charged guitar riffs. If the rest of the band had set back their energy for most of the show, Dabice gave up her frontgirl role for the last song, “Pigs is Pigs” which was performed by bassist Colins Regisford with all the rage of a Black man in America screaming against police violence

The crowd was so high from the Philadelphia band’s electrifying performance that they had to come back for an unplanned encore…they said it was their last show of the year, and for all these young kids around me, it was one of these empowering nights that makes you happy for a long time.

Setlist
Romantic
Cream
Patience
Drunk II
Who You Are
In Love Again
Control
Pledge
Everything
Ten
Kiss
Perfect
Clams
Hxc pussy
F.u.c.a.w.
Pigs is Pigs
Plus an encore (not on the setlist)

 

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