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Washing Machines, Rachel Goodrich & The Grrrls And Sharkmuffin At The Satellite, Sunday February 16th 2014















If you are wearing some Sonic Youth and Mudhoney shirts on stage and kind of sound like Nirvana at times, you are wearing your influences on your chest right? Washing Machines, a young LA-based quartet opened the night at the Satellite on Sunday night and they were terrifically loud and good. These kids have done their homework, but at the same time I couldn’t exactly say which iconic bands they were reminding me the most, exhibiting a plethora of post-punk-grunge influences from the weirdness and dissonance of Sonic Youth, the inventiveness of the Pixies,  the cathartic sound of Nirvana or the Smashing Pumpkins with Kurt Cobain’s agonizing howl. They built a crashing monster sound with super loud and pounding drumming and brought enough distortion to burry the tips of their melodies. I don’t know how old they were, but they played as if they were some reincarnations from the 90s, bringing anger then abruptly interrupting the fury and letting their sound wander in limbo before starting again, meaner and harder than never. They reminded me a bit of Metz, this noise-grunge band (quite falsely qualified of hardcore), which also sounds like Nirvana,… especially during their grand final when they became formidable noise makers, combining all their passion in violent distortion.

Next, Rachel Goodrich & The Grrrls changed the scene, bringing some light sunshine after Washing Machines’ rather dark and heavy music. Yeah it was quite a contrast: the girlie trio fronted by the tall blonde and goofy Rachel had some very pleasant and eclectic music exulting joy, a sort of bubbly blues, at times poppy, at times country-ish, but always quirky and playful… and overall lighter than a feather. After a rather bluesy opening, ‘Morning Light’ has an overload of sweetness in the vocals and was blooming all over the place,… quite an instant earworm to be honest. With her grrrls and their vocal harmonies, she was playing the sort of music you want to bounce to in an open field during a nice spring morning. It was just in the middle of Sesame street, the Beatles’ yellow submarine and some retro dance of the 70s. But not everything was so light-headed, her ‘Fire’ song has been compared to a female version of something Tom Waits could have written, and even if you only listen to the first notes of it, you’ll immediately understand why. You may have already heard some of her songs on Showtime’s ‘Weeds’ or NBC’s ‘The Blacklist’, and she has an upcoming album which should be out this spring, so does it mean more Rachel & her Grrrls’ shows soon? Nobody would complain, she invited everyone to dance last night as she seemed so concerned about everyone having a good time.

Sharkmuffin was headlining the evening, and it was also the only band not from LA but from Brooklyn NY.  Proving, one more time, that babes can be totally badass, the punk trio put on a riveting set, which sounded like a wild ride of aggression, distortion, dissonance and discordance. You have to add to this that tall brunette Tarra Thiessen’s vocals were high-pitched screamed and that she jumped in the crowd starting moshing, while short blonde Natalie Kirch on stage was producing the darkest riffs off her bass, which looked almost too big for her. As Sharkmuffin’s drummer Janet LaBelle had an arm injury, Patty Schemel (Hole, Death Valley Girls, Upset) took her place behind the drum set, and needless to say her addition wasn’t spoiling anything but could have somewhat reinforced the Hole comparison. Not that the Sharkmuffin girls need to be compared to anyone else, but they have been compared to bands as diverse as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or the White Stripes in reviews, and if I totally see the ‘Riot Grrrl’ Karen O comparison, I would say that Thiessen had also a bit of Sleigh Bells’ Alexis Krauss or Chrissie Hynde going on and I would totally forget about any Hole reference. Sharkmuffin had a raw, aggressive and cringing sound and did I say they were loud, very loud? Some riffs were reaching hardcore level, the vocals were like furies over the buzzing noise of the guitars and I am sure they wouldn’t have mind to get more action from the crowd but with such a cute trashy sound it should come faster than they think.

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