Girls Got Rhythm Fest Day 2 at Amsterdam Bar, 5/12/12
Girls Got Rhythm Day 2
With Ronnie Spector, The 126.96.36.199's Nikki Corvette, Little Girls, Midnite Snaxxx, L'assassins
Amsterdam Bar & Hall, St. Paul
Saturday, May 12, 2012
As far as local music productions are concerned, news of the inaugural Girls Got Rhythm Fest offered something completely fresh in the realm of Twin Cities music events. For one, the lineup was zeroed in on a niche: women. No, not in a sanctimonious, Lilith Fair sense. More, a platform of information and celebration honoring a diverse spread of female-fronted acts who weren't afraid to play loud. And additionally -- whether intentional or not -- it gave St. Paul's Amsterdam Bar & Hall an opportunity to further establish itself as a more accessible rock venue. Well, Saturday night, boasting a lineup of reputable names including Ronnie Spector, Girls Got Rhythm Fest proved itself a success in both aims.
The evening of music assimilated into two sort of chapters, the first being characterized by an aesthetic of early '90s, garage-punk angst. Minneapolis' own L'assassins took to the stage first, charming the early arrivers with their wild vein of homegrown attitude. Midnite Snaxx ushered in surfier elements, bolstering excitement with throaty bass lines and fine crafted pop hooks. Little Girls and Nikki Corvette nailed their sets with incredible stage presence, further heightening the energy that, let's face it, was being built up for the the biggest draw of the evening: the last two acts. Eventually, that long-awaited moment came.
Entering the stage with a welcoming smile that was almost as big as her hair, Ronnie Spector took her place in the spotlight with the grace of a queen, initiating her set with a memorable performance of the Ronettes' hit "Baby, I Love you." It was apparent from the first sounds that left her lips, that Spector's astounding talent hasn't much deteriorated since the heyday of the famed group in the '60s. Hers was a voice that defined a specific time and sound of pop music and, with backup singers and characteristically coiffed hair, she effortlessly capitalized on our nostalgia.
Additionally, Specter demonstrated her tried-and-true love of rock 'n' roll with covers of both the Rolling Stone's (Time is On My Side) and a hair-raising rendition of Johnny Thunders' "You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory." Though naturally, classics like "Be My Baby" and "The Best Part of Breakin' Up" produced an especially awestruck sense of wonder amongst the audience. Almost as enjoyable as the sounds of her resonant voice was her interaction with the Amsterdam crowd. Her face read that she was unarguably joyed to be singing up there and her warm banter with the show goers only asserted this. After responding to the club wide chanting of "Ronnie! Ronnie!" with a several-song encore it seemed improbable that anything else could heighten the magic of the night.
Photo by Ryan Cutler
Yet, the 188.8.131.52.'s managed this exciting feat, playing a lenghty and spirited set of unadulterated rockabilly punk. Initially famous for a cameo in Kill Bill, the Japanese trio, in addition to looking physically fabulous (think Amy Winehouse hair, pale pink silk dresses and heels), flaunted their truly impressive musical chops. Barreling through a repertoire of fast, surfy songs that were bursting with attitude and hinting at danger, it was hard not to fall in love, and not just because the music demanded the most fun kind of movement (though that was surely part of it). First and foremost: the three musicians were unbelievably charming (the highlight of this was when they enlisted Girls Got Rhythm Fest organizer Travis Ramin to contribute some vocals on their catchy single "Woo Hoo"). It centered upon their sly stage demeanor, their improvisation and in the relevant disconnect caused by a very real language barrier.
They couldn't communicate with the audience much but they didn't need to. Their musicianship spoke volumes. Appeasing the energetic crowd for their encore (which included "Twist & Shout") proved a satisfying finale to a night of memorable live performance. And though Amsterdam wasn't quite bursting at capacity, the people attending were enthusiastic, appreciative and undoubtedly lusting for similar productions in seasons to come.
Critic's Bias: girl fronted rock bands, '60s pop and Quentin Tarantino soundtracks are a few of my favorite things.
The Crowd: Very diverse. Everyone spanning from middle-aged nostalgics, local musicians and Radio K kids.
Overheard in the crowd: (during 184.108.40.206's) "I'm anxious. Any minute now... any minute now Beatrix Kiddo is going to come slaughter us all!"
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