Live Review: Sasami, Jigsaw Youth; Pillow Queens tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:38 pm April 4, 2022
Sasami at Reverb Lounge, April 3, 2022.

by Tim McMahan,

The Sasami of 2022 barely resembles the Sasami of 2019. The pre-pandemic Sasami Ashworth’s music fell into the ol’ singer/songwriter/indie category, youthful and having fun. She still was having plenty of fun last night at Reverb Lounge.

Since last time here, she got rid of her adorable band and replaced it with three hair-metal dudes who absolutely shred on their instruments, including a guitarist she introduced as “Ram” who was straight out of Wayne’s World.

Sasami 2022 sounds like a modern reinvention of grunge. Live, it’s more riff-oriented and straight-forward heavy-metal than what’s heard on Squeeze, her recent album on Domino that is more acidic, with layered sounds and an industrial hue. Sasami opened with one of the more approachable tracks off the album, “The Greatest,” which straddles the line between the two worlds reflected on that new album — metal and songwriter — but with amps all turned to 10. The best songs of the night were those open-chord rockers fueled by an overflow of fuzz guitar, kind of a Live Rust thing.

The minor-key metal, on the other hand, was post-grunge, powered by a rapid-fire double-kick rhythm section and those buzz-saw leads. I don’t know if it was because she was losing her voice (as she said, introducing the last song of the 40-minute set) or if she just doesn’t have the oomph to be heard above the rattle and hum, but her vocals often dipped just below the waves. Understandable, as it was one of the loudest shows I’ve seen at Reverb. Even the between-set music was loud. (BTW, the interim music was the 1970 Stark Reality album, Discovers Hoagy Carmicheal’s Music Shop, an improvised jazz fusion collection that irritates as much as entertains).

Jigsaw Youth at Reverb Lounge, April 3, 2022.

Opening band, New York trio Jigsaw Youth, brought back memories of Fat Jacks, where I used to go in my late teens to catch traveling hair-metal bands in the mid-1980s. Their style was pure riff rock with grunge overtones (Is grunge coming back or something?), carried by vocalist Maria Alvarez’s full-throated growls. The best song of their set was an “unreleased track” with guitarist Nastacha Beck’s killer riff (but an uninspired vocal melody). The band also tried their hand at straight-four hardcore punk on another new song (driven by drummer Alex Dmytrow) that morphed to heavy metal halfway through — they should have kept with the hardcore. They closed out with a Nirvana cover that Alvarez killed in pure Cobain fashion.

Decent crowd for a Sunday night, maybe 70, with at least two dozen up front – mostly young girls — bouncing to every Sasami song, and loving it.

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A sneaky-good show tonight at Slowdown Jr. Pillow Queens are a Dublin-based indie band whose new album, Leave a Light On, just came out last week on Royal Mountain, a label whose roster includes Alvvays, METZ and Nap Eyes, among others. Their sound is reminiscent of Oh Pep!, with delicious melodies and harmonies.

Opening is Toronto’s Deanna Petcoff, and SafeSpace, a sort of indie project by Ione who opened for Squirrel Flower a couple weeks ago as well as for Bon Jovi last weekend (but as a different persona). $18, 8 p.m.

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