Live Review: Team Dresch, Screaming Females, Des Ark, Philadelphia, Oct. 3, 2019

Where better to be on Donna Dresch’s 53rd birthday than finally seeing Team Dresch, 20-plus years after I fell for Kaia Wilson’s solo album and gradually burrowed deep into her back pages?

At Union Transfer in Philly, the band was every bit as inspiring as its legend, blazing through queercore classics like “Fagetarian And Dyke,” “Uncle Phranc” and ”She’s Amazing” (which Wilson dedicated to Dresch) with utter confidence, playfulness and emotional depth.

In recognition of Team Dresch’s literally lifesaving power, Des Ark came out of retirement to pay tribute with a thunderous (if too short) opening set; full-band workouts of “Some Are Love” and “Ashley’s Song” were mighty and moving, but Aimee Argote’s solo performance of “Girls Get Ruff” was quietly devastating.

In between, Screaming Females could be counted on to deliver a batch of excellent, efficient tunes that sounded downright pop in context, masterfully orchestrating a sea of heads bobbing in unison.

Nothing but awe, all night long.

—M.J. Fine

Screaming Females
Des Ark