Girls Got Rhythm Fest Day 1 at Amsterdam Bar, 5/11/12

Girls Got Rhythm Fest Day 1
With the Muffs, Pierced Arrows, White Mystery, Caroline & the Treats, the Pinsch, and Hot Rash
Amsterdam Bar & Hall, St. Paul
Friday, May 11, 2012

Slideshow: Girls Got Rhythm Festival
Girls Got Rhythm Fest Day 2 at Amsterdam Bar, 5/12/12

If anyone in the Amsterdam Bar & Hall over the weekend was thinking about the 1979 AC/DC song that coined the phrase "Girls Got Rhythm" it would have to be Miss Caroline Andersen. Even in heels, the namesake for the Norwegian bubblegum pop act Caroline and the Treats was a manic dancer throughout her set. As for the rest of Friday's offerings, the female-oriented bill did its part to provide rhythm, gutteral screams, and enough attitude to shake Bon Scott's coffin.

Downtown St. Paul's Amsterdam, which was set up in its full-sized "hall" configuration, proved to be the ideal spot for the Girls Got Rhythm Fest. With a large, wide stage, ample amounts of fans of varying heights and levels of intensity could get close to the performers and delight in the varied styles -- punk, power-pop, mod, garage, and just plain rock. For the old-timers, the tables in the back were a comfortable spot to pore over the merch and grab a bite.

Girls Got Rhythm Fest Day 1 at Amsterdam Bar, 5/11/12
Photo by Ryan Cutler

All the while, Caroline, in Lolita sunglasses, and the Treats put on a blistering performance that shot waves of playful energy into the room. When the music wasn't enough, Andersen went into a series of moves that would bruise and batter mere mortals -- in red heels, no less! Highlights included the crowd-pleasing "Wham Bam Baby," and Nikki Corvette, who would perform the next night, jumped onstage to rock through "Let's Go."

Girls Got Rhythm Fest Day 1 at Amsterdam Bar, 5/11/12

Earlier on, locals the Pinsch brought stylish grace to their mean mod act. With their Marshall stack renamed as "Marsha," singer-guitarist Miss Georgia Peach and vocalist-keyboardist Sheelar of the North took turns dousing the crowd with sassy entreaties like "Miniskirt." At one point, Georgia told the crowd to "Suck on that, motherfuckers," in the sweetest way possible. Should their male drummer and bassist consider wearing some natty vintage suits for future performances? Perhaps.

Girls Got Rhythm Fest Day 1 at Amsterdam Bar, 5/11/12
Photo by Ryan Cutler

Things took a far grittier turn for the remainder of the evening. Chicago sibling duo of guitarist Miss Alex White and drummer Francis Scott Key White White Mystery kicked through a selection of fuzzy, unhinged garage tunes. Both Whites shook their red manes generously thoughout the set, and it was difficult not to join in the head-banging. Miss White closed out her portion of the evening by putting her vintage Rickenbacker over her shoulders and smacking the the thing with gusto.

Girls Got Rhythm Fest Day 1 at Amsterdam Bar, 5/11/12
Photo by Ryan Cutler

Toody Cole, the grey-haired, fire-eyed, Grain Belt-slugging bassist for Pierced Arrows, brought something onstage that perhaps will never be replicated. Aside from her powerful rhythmic gifts on the instrument, she brought an intensity that mixed Patti Smith with the Wicked Witch of the West. With husband Fred Cole laying out his equally ghastly vocals on "Paranoia," this was a sneering, jeering section of the evening that left a moon-shaped tattoo -- like the one Mr. Cole has one in real life on his cheek -- on all of our minds.

Girls Got Rhythm Fest Day 1 at Amsterdam Bar, 5/11/12
Photo by Ryan Cutler

Finally, there was the Muffs. The SoCal trio, fronted by Kim Shattuck, is best known for a string of distortion-fueled pop gems from the early to mid-'90s. Shattuck can still scream with the best of them, and the largest audience of the night gathered at the front to witness her smart and petulant presence. According to bassist Ronnie Barnett, there was "fucking going on backstage," so it was a special treat that they pulled themselves away from it to perform. "Sad Tomorrow" would be the infectious remnant from the Muffs' brief turn on a major label, and much like the rest of the evening, it has aged extremely well.

Critic's Notebook

The Crowd: Anyone (of either gender) looking to chat up some well-coiffed, delightfully dressed women should've been in attendance to experience this group.

Random Detail: The's, who would perform on Saturday night, were in the crowd shooting a lot of pictures.

Personal Bias: Dude rock gets way boring. Let's keep GGR Fest coming back for years to come. Guitar queen Marnie Stern would be the perfect addition for next year.

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