For the past few weeks, my roommate has been going on and on about one of her favorite bands: Screaming Females. In the back of my mind, the name sounded unbelievably familiar, even though I had never heard any of their music. So when I saw their name first on an old mixtape I uncovered in the WMCN radio station, and later on a poster advertising they were coming to Turf Club, it seemed there was something bigger pushing me towards this show.
Turf Club, a modernized dancehall from the 1940s, is one of my favorite venues, and one I always unexpectedly find myself attending events in. The last time I was in the space, I was coming home from a boxing match in the middle of Minnesota winter wearing no jacket, and ducking in to warm up, I happened upon Daniel Donato, who is now one of my favorite artists. The streak of spontaneity that Turf Club seems to hold was not broken last night when, unbeknownst to me, The Screaming Females performed one of their best sets yet.
A new band on the scene called The Mimes opened for them, and though the lead singer looked unassuming with his nerdy glasses and gray quarter-zip done up all the way, they rocked the space. Though they don’t hail from Minnesota, they followed the Minnesota basement-rock theme to a T, getting everyone riled up from the first wail of the guitar on their opening song “Cereal.” Following them was Generación Suicida, a punk-hardcore Spanish group, whose guitars drowned out the lead singer in the best way. The same roommate who turned me onto Screaming Females told me not to take my eyes off the drummer, Kiwi Martinez, during their set, and once again, she was right on the nose. It was impossible to see where the drumsticks were even going, what parts of the kit they were even hitting that could emit the power that this drummer did, but for the 30-minute set, my eyes tracked that drummer. It’s a rare, but not impossible, occurrence that an opener outshines the main event, and for the first time in a long time, I was worried that that would be the case that night.
But I was wrong. Anyone who goes to shows in Minnesota knows that oftentimes, it’s hard to get concert-goers to dance. It’s unclear as to whether this is a Minnesota-specific phenomenon, but it’s the case at many different shows. So, it says a lot that within the first five seconds of their set, The Screaming Females had the entire venue electrified, and the ground shaking underneath everyone’s feet. Marissa Paternoster, frontwoman of the band, walked onstage in an unsuspecting black dress, alongside Mike “King” Abbate who wore a button-down red shirt and jeans. Not the outfits you’d expect of two people who had such power on stage that the mere sight of Paternoster reaching for her guitar—a G&L S-500 for any guitar nerds out there—had the couple in front of me clambering to get on stage. And for good reason, because much like Martinez of Generación Suicida, it was impossible to follow Paternoster’s fingers as she wailed away on stage.
Small but mighty punk powerhouse Paternoster took control of the stage, and at the end of their nearly hour-and-a-half set, when the smallest speaking voice came from the PA system, I was shocked. There was no way on Earth that the deep, throaty, and one-of-a-kind vocals I had heard all night were from the same voicebox as the kind voice that announced “We are from New Brunswick, New Jersey! Goodnight!” I left the venue with my hearing completely shot, thinking only about what my roommate had warned me earlier that night—their records are awesome, but their shows are life-changing.