If people notice one thing about me, it’s that I’m not from Portland. Whether it’s my accent when I get angry, or my not-so-broad knowledge of Portland’s transit system, or my gasps of surprise when I found out that the beaches in Oregon aren’t filled with guidos, it’s obvious to many that I’m from New Jersey. Most respond with a hurried “I’m so sorry,” or “Wow, you turned out well,” or my favorite rash response, “Ew!” and it irks me that the reputation of the Garden State is so bad. Jersey Shore, Cake Boss, Real Housewives of New Jersey, and Governor Chris Christie aren’t helping much, and I’m not saying I’ve loved every minute of being in that tainted state, but I will say it’s got a lot to offer. Really! I can tell you’re skeptical. Have you ever thought about the music that comes out of New Jersey? Like, besides Bruce Springsteen? New Jersey’s punk scene has been on the rise for quite some time, with New Brunswick as the state’s mecca for all things diy. What? You’ve never heard of New Brunswick? Well, this year’s C.L.I.T. Fest was hosted there, oh, and it’s the home of none other than Screaming Females.
One fateful evening in a kitchen in Brooklyn in the winter of 2008, I stood leaning on a window, freezing air seeping into the sweaty room. A woman emerged from the bathroom wearing a modest black dress with a white collar. In the smallest voice, she said, “We’re Screaming Females and we’re from New Jersey.” My eyes lit up.
I didn’t know if I was in love with this mysterious person in front of me, or if I was just entranced by how she was basically rolling around on the ground with her guitar. I think it might have been both. If you’ve ever been to a Screamales show, you know just what I’m talking about—Marissa Paternoster wails like no other. It’s a bit deceptive when she steps out, garbed in long sleeves and tights, and yes, she even does this in the blazing summer heat. But with no hesitation, she picks up her guitar and the band explodes. Their extra high energy, and honest talent keep me wanting more, and after seeing them more times than I can count, I’m still pretty obsessed. They even covered Sheryl Crow once!
Yes, there’s a whole slew of lady fronted punk bands, but I will go out on a limb and say that Screaming Females are the best in the game, and they’re changing the face of modern women in punk, and if you’re not listening to them, something is wrong. Plus, Marissa is a total babe and she wants to scream in your face.
With four solid studio albums under their belts and a huge fanbase that stretches far beyond the confines of Jersey, it’s safe to say that these three know what they’re doing, and they’re doing it well. Now, do your part, give us Garden State born and bred a break, and listen to Screaming Females or catch them on tour this month, and in the Fall with Garbage. Yes, Garbage. Who knew they were still around? Not me.
8.16 - New York, NY @ 92 Y Tribeca
9.06 - Raleigh, NC @ Hopscotch Festival
9.08 - Brooklyn, NY @ Riot Fest (Williamsburg Park)
9.16 - Chicago, IL @ Riot Fest (Humbotdt Park)
9.26 - Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo
9.27 - Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
9.29 - Vancouver, BC @ The Center For Performing Arts
10.01 - San Francisco, CA @ Warfield Theatre
10.02 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Palladium
10.05 - Salt Lake City, UT @ In The Venue
10.06 - Denver CO @ Ogden Theatre
10.09 - Houston, TX @ House of Blues
10.10 - Austin, TX @ La Zona Rosa
Live photo by Andrew St. Clair