The world could be on fire all around them, but Screaming Females would remain focused on the task at hand: creating a massive sound out of Marissa Paternoster’s elastic yet earth-shaking guitar lines and mighty bellow, Jarett Dougherty’s jazz-inflected drumming and King Mike’s booming but perfectly controlled bass.
The trio filled the First Unitarian Church basement with that unmistakable thunder and the fans of all ages who chase the powerful feeling it presents. Starting with a version of “Glass House” that built gradually from a brittle melody to a claustrophobic fortress, Screaming Females powered through a set that turned people into puppets, heads bobbing and banging as the band slammed into one irresistible groove after another.
From “Black Moon” to “Starving Dog” to “Helpless”—which turned into a cathartic sing-along—nothing else seemed to matter except the riffs and beats that tethered us to the spot until the ringing in our ears filled the sudden silence.
In the three-band bill’s middle spot, Sweeping Promises’ spare postpunk was anchored by Lira Mondal’s Pylon-esque bass, with angular rejoinders from Caufield Schnug’s guitar sparking an intriguing musical conversation that said so much, both in Mondal’s instinctive singing and in the spaces they were brave enough not to fill. Opener TVO was so punk rock, they just kept going and going with no lag in energy while the lead guitarist’s fingers bled out onto his guitar.
—M.J. Fine; photos by Chris Sikich