I swear to you Jarrett has been pumping iron . Last time I saw Screaming Females was winter, It was cold and we were all wearing bulky winter jackets. Now it’s something like 95 degrees, I am on only a few hours of sleep and we are celebrating 20 years of Electrical Audio. Electrical is a recording studio I worked at for a while and it’s how I met these guys. Everything is connected, and I was not fibbing when two seconds before my bands set the night before (all night party—> all day party) I turned to Albini and said “Thank you for changing my life.” Had it not been for that place I wouldn’t have befriended the fine people that have asked me to join them on this trek though the United States, let alone under this sun; a late summer weekender where good wishes, grilling and the sound of rock permeated the thick solar glaze. “20 Years of Electrical Audio,” somehow a analog recording studio built by punks has lasted about 19 and half years longer than anyone expected. That’s certainly worthy of cake.
My charge for the day was to introduce all the bands. This isn’t anything new, I’m quick with the mic, but for me to introduce Screaming Females was different. I nervously stammered through something about how meeting them was the best perk. That they made my heart grow and made me feel less cynical about music/“industry shit”/ego rot. A band like them man, they can leave ya blank on the question “who was the worst drag you ever dealt with.” I never remembered the awful sessions. Like, I remember them being awful, but I don’t remember their names/aliases/eating habits/birthdays because the hell with them. Why remember them when you can remember the warmth/joy of finding Marissa outside of a protest you were at? Jumping into a whip to head to the dreaded Fulton market and there’s Mike and Jarrett. Why remember some asshole guilting you for not being able to buy them weed when you have that kind of happiness to access? Again, that’s February, and we ain’t protesting today. Least not for a second. Instead this is love. I guess protests are based in love too (love thy neighbor so why not fight for they rights,) but I’m not going down that road.
Bands all day. Different dynamics, all stylistically unique but certainly a solid representation of the kind of work that comes out of Electrical. All that was missing really was a crusty metal band and some freaq jazz flamethrower. I was excited that Marissa got to see Shannon Wright tear an ozone through the sky. It was pretty damn dope that Shannon seemed blown away by Marissa’s shredding.
Now, this party was held at the Hideout. The Hideout is easily the best club in Chicago. It’s a house, the bar is in the front, and the bands play in the back. There are doors between both rooms so you can have a drink and not die from having your eardrums melted. Conversely on those intimate sets, you can go somewhere and chat if you’re not feeling it and not ruin everyone else’s life. It’s a sweet set up, and it sounds great in there. It’s also run by some wild people that love a good time and love having a space accessible to all. It’s such a nice club, Screamales recorded a live album there. Over the 21 years they’ve been open, they’ve had an annual block party. Chicago is block party central—Screamales have played many of them. But the Hideout Block party is different. Eleven years ago, Touch and Go Records held their 25th anniversary at the Hideout Block Party. It was a wild scene. Bands from Italy, Holland, Wisconsin, Outer Space and even San Diego descended on this snoozy little house across from a Garbage Truck parking lot to do the knowledge on people who traveled from similar places.
I’m only bringing this up in relation to the Screamales set at the hideout. You see, when Negative Approach played at 4pm on a Saturday back in 2006, you could see a massive shift in the audience from seasoned vets of the rustbelt noise/ weird rock world to the spike in vain death glare of hardcore youth…amped that a guy who “didn’t realize (he) was the Francis Scott Key of Hardcore” would grip the mic once again and tear though “Can’t Tell No One.” It was quite a sight to see that shift from weekend late summer casual wear to all black/all studs/all frowns. People went ape.
Here we are 11 years later, and the same shift is occurring moments before Screaming Females take the stage. Only this time, you have an enthusiastic grip of queer punx, free radicals, and fellow screamers—all ready to be blown away. And blown away they were—The band rocked so hard, Marissa’s amp and pedal board couldn’t stay plugged in! The tools needed to rock couldn’t handle the rock, but these three here powered through. People even sang along to “Black Moon,” the single that had been released two days before…you hear stories about that, but when it happens, it’s an alarming sight. Sure, they ain’t role models, but I can’t help but wonder how many young people (young weirdos) they’re inspiring with each performance.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Jarrett is just Jarrett and he’s the same size. He’s still fitting into his stage shirt; no hulk tears along the arms.