Chambermaids at the Stevens Square Center for the Arts

Melting faces and sibling spats usher in one of summer's first festivals

In a weekend crowded with early summer festivals, Red Hot Art is holding its kick-off party at Stevens Square Center for the Arts. With the event's theme being Altered Portraits, the Chambermaids play their Friday night set surrounded by John Largaespada's warped images. The photographer's subjects appear to be stretched by funhouse mirrors, their flesh melting right off the bone. Likewise, drummer Colin Johnson is well past the point of "red hot," having just unleashed a reverb-soaked howl and wailed on a floor tom with a maraca while playing with his other band, Vampire Hands. Already flushed and damp, he backs up his Chambermaids mates, Neil and Martha Weir. Any decent sibling act involves a little taunting, and Neil is happy to oblige. "Here's a song that the chick sings," he says. Martha scoffs before adding, "Here comes the gimmick!" For most of the set Neil takes on melody-hollering duties, while Martha's sweet ooh-ah's float in the background. Urban-centric tracks like "City Predators" and "21st" raise the same bouncy urgency that the Velvet Underground occasionally riled up. At set's end, the trio play a cover of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" that's pretty faithful to Iggy's original—you know, if you overlook the fact that the chick is singing it.

 
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