“Do you remember way back when you were young?” singer/guitarist Betsy Wright asks with a sneer on the title track of Bat Fangs’ second album. “You were the queen of my world in the sun.”
My memory goes way back to the heyday of Poison, Cheap Trick and AC/DC, but if any band had made me feel then the way Bat Fangs does now, I might’ve had the moxie to rule the stage with the best of them. Instead, watching Wright and drummer Laura King at PhilaMOCA, that awe was a needed boost at the end of a long workday, rather than a kick in the ass to shove Aaron Deal off the stage to claim my rightful place on the bass. (On second thought, Deal’s just right where he is; if there’d been more hot-shit players who looked like me back then, it’d have been easier to start a girl gang all our own.)
Blazing through “Queen Of My World” (with assistance from Thin Lips’ Chrissy Tashjian) and rippers like “In The Water,” “Fangs Out” and “Never Coming Down” (a.k.a. “NC/DC,” a nod to King’s North Carolina home base and Wright’s Washington roots), Bat Fangs came off as the rawk goddesses I wished I’d seen as a girl, their monster guitar riffs, decisive beats and brash vocals so perfectly rendered that you just knew they’d never let anyone tell them that perfection was the price of entry to the boys’ club. They’d just done the thing in band after band—Wright in the Fire Tapes and Ex Hex, King in the Moaners and Flesh Wounds—until no one could do it better.
In the middle slot, All Away Lou (a.k.a. Lou Hanman of Caves and a bunch of Philly bands) delivered punk and indie-rock tunes that were so tight, you’d never guess it was her first time playing with this crew. A cover of Elastica’s “Stutter” blended right in with originals like “Looks Right” and “The Never End,” and the mix of Weezer-esque pop and harder-edged material made for a dynamic set.
Billed as Thin Lips (solo), guitarist Chrissy Tashjian opened the show without brother Mikey in his usual place on drums and Kyle Pulley on bass. She was instead joined by Lauren Adams on harmonies, the two trying to remember words to songs that haven’t been played since before the pandemic. They succeeded more often than not, and when they didn’t, no one cared—they sounded great all the same. Perfection be damned.
—M.J. Fine; photos by Chris Sikich