Live Review: PUP, Screaming Females at The Waiting Room…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 1:36 pm March 5, 2020

PUP at The Waiting Room, March 4, 2020.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

My friend Paul emailed to say I needed to show up early at The Waiting Room last night for Screaming Females, which he’d seen a number of times, including a show a few years back at the Sweatshop Gallery.

If you haven’t caught them yet, they are a force — Marissa Paternoster made SPIN’s list of top 100 guitarists a few years back.  I thought she would have caught on as a gunslinger for a major touring band by now, but Sam told me she’s loyal to her bandmates.

“Sam” is Sam Parker, once of Omaha now of Nashville who booked the band here once upon a time. Well, Paul wasn’t exaggerating. Paternaster was a force of nature on the guitar, a true throwback rock virtuoso.

How to describe her? She looked like a mop-headed 15-year-old Gilda Radner, no more than 5 feet tall. She never smiled, or at least not on stage. And when she played, she looked like a person possessed — amazing rock arpeggios that Jimmy Page or Jack White would most certainly bow down to.

Screaming Females at The Waiting Room, March 4, 2020.

A New Jersey power trio, their style was reminiscent of Seattle grunge with a hint of metal (by way of that guitar). The songs were powered by Mike Abbate’s base lines that laid the groundwork for Paternaster’s fretboard gymnastics.

When she wasn’t playing (or when she was) she sang with an affected style that sounded like Grace Slick channeling Eddie Vedder on melodies that weren’t terribly memorable. It’s her guitar work that I’ll remember. Why isn’t this band headlining yet?

PUP came on right at 10 p.m. to a near sold-out crowd, about as packed as I’ve seen The Waiting Room. From the opening chords the audience erupted in a group sing-along, which I sort of expected. PUP’s anthemic music lends itself to crowd participation, and the band certainly got it all night long. But unlike say, a Dashboard Confessional concert where the crowd singing shtick is constant and annoying, last night’s audience was a nice accent to the overall power of the performance.

Frontman Stefan Babcock said because the band hadn’t been through Omaha in a number of years they were going to play songs from all their albums, and in fact reached way back to their 2014 debut with “Dark Days” and set highlight “Reservoir” (though they didn’t get to my personal fave, “Guilt Trip”). There also were a lot of songs off their last album, Morbid Stuff, including perfect set-closer “Scorpion Hill.”

Halfway through the hour-long performance Babcock remarked that the set was a disaster but it sure sounded great from where I stood, and certainly the fist-pump-fueled crowd was loving it, including the requisite crowd surfers. Babcock’s between-song repartee included calling Oklahoma City (the town they played previously) the City of Enemies. Not sure what that was all about. He also said he was having more fun last night than he expected to — take that for what it’s worth.

There was no encore, and no band has ever made such a big deal about it. Babcock not only warned the crowd they weren’t playing one “because they’re stupid” (and, he said, merely an excuse for bands to go backstage and do coke (which they don’t do)), but also encouraged the crowd to chant “No More Songs!” after the set closer, which is exactly what they did, though they had to know we would have loved a couple more…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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