Showing posts with label Brody Dalle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brody Dalle. Show all posts

May 3, 2018

Show Review: Austin's Night With The Distillers

Photo by Holly Jee
by Robert Dean

Typically, when people think of punk rock, and its legacy, it’s mostly a male-driven narrative. Women tend to be an afterthought in the annals of the history of the music. Sure, there’s a little slice laid out for Wendy O Williams and the notorious Nancy Spungen, but by and large, women are forgotten in the long game of the music.

When Brody Dalle announced she was getting The Distillers back together, the Internet immediately rejoiced with fans from far and wide hoping the band would make their way through their neck of the woods. But, like all things on the web, how real were all those comments, how much weight was on the bands first tour in over a decade?

Having sold out almost every show of the band’s first run, it’s clear that The Distillers still have a place in the public’s heart, considering most of the ticket buyers are now in their 30’s who’ve aged right along with Brody, as many wear her lyrics as their reality, as a badge of courage all these years later.

What happened tonight (May 1) at the Austin, Texas stop on tour was hopefully a moment for the band to take stock of their legacy to know that what they did, what they now do again - matters. Tonight, as I stood in the back a sold-out Mohawk, I watched a palate of people cry out, rejoice and scream words that were more than just liner notes, they were a personal mantra.

Photo by Holly Jee
Tonight’s Distillers show didn’t belong to the men. We were nothing more than a set decoration, a band of extras in the hundreds sipping our Lonestar tallboys, watching as everyone’s punk rock crush slammed her way through hit after hit of the band’s catalog. No, tonight was about marginalized voices, about women, about queer punks, about punks of color and everyone in between who felt like the change between the car seats.

The mosh pit wasn’t a dude-dominated sweat lodge of bros slamming into one another, but instead as a percolating, roving circle of exorcism lead and owned by the women in the audience. For them, the things they’ve bottled up for so long, the emotions of being female in a world as fucked up like this, everything spilled out.

The band cruised through a greatest hits setlist any fan would love to hear including “The Hunger,” “City of Angels” and “I Am Revenant” to name a few of the fist-pumping crowd pleasers. Despite Brody’s evident agony of losing her voice, she soldiered through and made the show happen, despite relying on the crowd to do their fair share of the singing, which none seemed upset about in the least.

As I stood in the back, I watched gay punks bob and weave, howling along, I saw women scream along, pointing their fists in the air, chanting each word to songs like “Die On A Rope” or “Oh Serena” with a refreshed meaning and purpose all these years later. 

Sep 18, 2017

New Blood: Madison Lewis

By Robert Dean

Whatever’s in the water out in Kentucky these days is tainted with heartbreak, introspection, and some absolute brilliance. From Tyler Childers to Sturgill Simpson, and now Madison Lewis, it’s amazing everyone picking up a guitar out there in UK country isn’t dropping amazing records left and right.

In the case of Madison Lewis though, she’s got a little fire in her that is a little bit wicked, but also a little “pure as the driven snow” as those old beer commercials used to say. At only 14 years old, Lewis is writing country-tinged heartbreakers that call to an internal reckoning that has many more tree rings than she's got in years.

On Ms. Lewis’ debut Back to The Blue, there is a little bit of pep to her writing but drenched in darkness, too. On "The World Ain’t Gonna Change for You" there’s more than country music at play here, there are notes of Oasis, and 90’s singer-songwriter aplomb with an ironic sense of self-worth. With harrowing introspection, it’s enough to hear the tenacity, but naiveté about this ultra-complicated world we’re thrown into. But, what offers the gut punch is she’s doing it light years better than the rest of us at 14. You look at that notebook of scribbled lyrics or poetry from just before high school and tell me it’s not Cringe City. 

Because Madison is so young, it’s impressive to see how far she’s ahead of her peers not only by her songwriting ability but her voice. There’s a tender smokiness to her tenor that offers a hint of the possibility of her range greatly expanding. Right now,  Ms. Lewis hanging around a same vocal ballpark with her style and how she is phrasing her songs, so a lot of the vocal takes on the record sound similar and can get monotonous. Because she’s so young, that’s a forgivable sin.

It will be interesting to see what Madison Lewis will do for an encore because the ability to hit those Amy Winehouse notes and offer that swagger is there. You can hear it buried deep in those vocal runs through the songs on Back to The Blue. The gruffness in her voice hints at the aforementioned Amy Winehouse, or Brody Dalle, or even Courtney Love. Ms. Lewis isn’t playing those kinds of ferocious neck breaker songs, but that DNA is omnipresent. On "Rockstar/Popstar" we’re privy to a front row seat to taking the piss out of these very themes and the expectations of what a female singer is supposed to be.

Get Madison Lewis on your radar as someone to watch. Back to The Blue is a solid first step toward what could be a rewarding career. It will be fun to keep an eye on her progression and see what she’ll do over the years to come. 

Nov 14, 2016

An Open Letter to Brody Dalle

Hey Brody. It’s been awhile. Was just wondering what you’ve been up to? Writing any new music? How are the kids?

I’ve got something on my mind. Something a lot of us have on our minds: can we please get the Distillers back? Like, seriously.

Spinerette was cool, and Ghetto Love was a jam. Spinerette was different, and you got some stuff out that needed to get out of your system and we are grateful it exists. The Diploid Love stuff is rad, too.

But, things have changed.

We need the Distillers back. The Distillers were amazing because it was brash, intense and it was without an ounce of bullshit. We need women punk rockers back.

Right now, who are the bands with female lead singers who wore their hearts on their sleeves and didn’t give a single fuck about crossing the line? This was originally going to be a dual letter, but luckily, Kathleen Hannah is back in the saddle with Le Tigre (!!!!).  We need something unique, something bold and something that was right along the lines if discontent in a super scary, super unnerving world – we need a new Distillers record.

You don’t think screaming the lyrics to “Sing Sing Death House” or “Young girl” wouldn’t prove cathartic to a swath of women who are unsure of their very sex and identity in today’s social climate? I’d be willing to be it’d feel damn good. If Glenn can get back together with Jerry Only, I think it’s time for you to dust off the palpable anger and bring us a new batch of anthems that have venom in the bite.

Right now, the music world is missing a few key voices – the anger of the Distillers is one of those voices. Please come back and please give women something to rage about.

Your pal,

Robert Dean 

*new feature from Robert Dean, but other Farce writers are welcome to join in*


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