Saturday, 10 September 2011

Screaming Females, Real Numbers, Human Hair at The Lexington - 9 September 2011

Screaming Females by Carl Fong

I’m enjoying the bands. My face is covered in fluorescent green make-up. The two are not unconnected.

The first act on tonight are Human Hair. Things start off extraordinary and progress from there.
It would be easy to lose sight of how good this lot are, because the rest of the band have to stand in relative anonymity because of the appearance and antics of vocalist Jack Lantern.

The beard is full, but acceptable. The crotch tight khaki shorts and bare feet are less expected. Lantern capers and hops around like a lascivious bare legged homunculus, thrusting his pelvis and using his microphone as a phallus as he roars and bellows.

It’s all very primeval and shamanic, rock front man as Lord of Misrule. He worries me because as he jumps and climbs around the venue, vaulting down amongst the crowd and writhing on the floor, there seems a real danger that he will stomp on something metal and pointy and injure himself. But disaster is averted.

The rest of the band stand on stage and bash out gargantuan riffs. It is wonderful, one of the performances of the year. Even so, it is clear that the band are having misgivings about some of their equipment. During a brief breakdown we are treated to a strange and disturbing poem from Lantern, who seems to be channelling some rural demon.

Human Hair have to be seen to be believed.


Real Numbers hail from Minneapolis and have distilled power pop to its most basic form. This three piece are as rigid in their template as the Ramones were in theirs, although they are far sunnier in disposition than Da Bruddas.

No song lasts longer than two and a half minutes, no song consists of much more than its title sung over and over as a chorus.

They are light, airy and completely insubstantial. Fun while they last, but not really nourishing.

While being entertained by Real Numbers, I am approached by a group of kids and have my face painted. They are fans of headliners Screaming Females. But mainly, they are fans of face paint.

Melissa Paternoster of Screaming Females is an extraordinary character. She is tiny, barely five feet tall and clothed in a long black dress that makes her look like a member of a particularly strict Puritan sect...

...until she hits her guitar and the back of the venue gets blown out.

Screaming Females are not so much a band as a detonation, a monstrously heavy and thundering rock band that are part Hendrix, part Sabbath, part White Stripes and wholly phenomenal.

The audience goes bughouse crazy, heads banging and even some surreptitious air guitar.

Melissa pounds her axe as though she wants to destroy it, occasionally stomping on a battery of FX pedals to shred a squealing solo. Her voice is almost mechanical, precise and clear- except when she screams so loudly that even the guitars are drowned out.

This band are a force of nature and would go down a storm with any audience. It’s like standing in front of a herd of charging elephants, you admire the power even as they mow you down.

When the set finally ends, and silence reigns, I feel bereft.

I wash my face as well as I can and stagger off into the night, glowing greenly.

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