Monday, March 10, 2008
The Donnas drew a decent crowd to Mr. Small's Theatre on Sunday night, putting on a high-powered show despite the lousy weather, and despite lead vocalist Brett Anderson being under it. Newly independent after parting ways with Atlantic Records (who released Gold Medal and Spend the Night) the Donnas were promoting their new self-released album, Bitchin', whose cover parodies the Mötley Crüe classic Too Fast for Love. As if to further the hard-rock image, the band members have adopted looks, locks and swagger that seem shockingly familiar -- in part because bands like Poison and Crüe were trying to look like women onstage in the first place. The finale's cover of Ratt’s "Round and Round" was the icing on the cake.
As guitarist Allison Robertson blazed through an old-school guitar-hero solo on the new fist-in-the-air song "Girl Talk," it seemed to me that one of the main reasons this style works for the Donnas is the appropriation factor: it’s four women taking ownership of cock-rock, some of the most cartoonishly masculine and misogynistic music out there, and putting it to their own uses. If a bunch of dudes revived this style now, they would seem like meatheads; when the Donnas do it, it seems smart -- and that's truly "bitchin'."
Red Wanting Blue opened, playing mostly resoundingly unimpressive bar-bandish country-tinged ballads. The Columbus, Ohio band’s bright spot was frontman Scott Terry, who, despite his journeyman pipes, managed to convey an excitement, charisma, and passion that the rest of the musicians did their best to completely negate. As my companion and I tried to decide whether the cavorting Terry looked more like Colin Farrell or Billy Crudup, he seemed to be trying to decide whether he was Diamond Dave (he did some actual scatting), Eddie Vedder (especially on the closing gut-wrencher) or Professor Harold Hill (rapping rapid-fire on a song that seemed cribbed from The Music Man). The man’s a natural entertainer though. And had a great hat.