New Brunswick, NJ has been a punk rock DIY mecca for many years now, helping to mold popular internationally recognized bands like the Bouncing Souls to local legends the Ergs!. Shows in basements have been a cultural cornerstone for Rutgers students who prefer hanging out listening to Black Flag to attending a football game. While in the past flyers could be circulated for these shows with the house's address on them without a problem, New Brunswick police have started to take aim at closing down these shows, deemed as an unsafe environment. Many basements such as The Parlor cannot put on shows anymore, but a new wave of houses where you have to know a guy who knows a guy to get the address have cropped up, and Meat Town USA is one of them.
The basement is smaller than most and for this semi-secret Screaming Females show it was filled with more people than I have ever seen in Meat Town USA (a quick estimate yielded approximately 80-100 people), but that, coupled with the just-too-low-for-comfort ceiling, did not bother a single crowd member. While everyone more than five rows back knew they wouldn't be able to see the band, spirits were high as everyone was talking about their grades from last semester or when they saw Screaming Females way back when in 2006.
With virtually no musical buildup, the trio's lone screaming female -- singer/guitarist Marissa Paternoster -- approached her mic saying "Hi" quietly and the band went into a new track entitled "Sheep." The hype surrounding Marissa's guitar playing is completely warranted -- this girl can shred. In a live setting her solos are more complex and brash while vocally her tenacity skyrockets. The band's rhythm section succeeds at working in conjunction -- not in spite of -- Marissa's shower of notes with Mike's bouncing basslines and Jarrett's tight drumming.
As they started perhaps their most popular song, "Bell," towards the beginning of their set, the crowd, already only about a foot away from the band, pressed forward and in the frenzy knocked over Marissa's mic stand, prompting the Screaming Females to stop the song (this was in a matter of five seconds). Marissa joked, "You know, standing still not touching anyone and bobbing your head is an acceptable form of dance." One of the Rutgers students who lives at the house, Cristian, alerted the crowd to move back a few steps then, as "Bell" continued and proceeded to be the biggest offender of fun dancing and pushing.
After an almost inaudible "This is our last song" from Marissa, the band finished with "Boyfriend" and gave the most physical performance of the night. By the song's climax, Marissa threw her guitar against her amplifier to gain feedback and grabbed the mic to scream/smash it and herself into her array of pedals. As the song concluded a handful of people started chanting "Skull! Skull! Skull!" (the third track on Power Move) but all Marissa could do was shrug her shoulders in hopes the audience would observe that her pedal board was not intact anymore. Hopefully I was the only one that noticed after the show that "Skull" had been crossed off the set list and the older track "Dinosaur" was put in its place.
- ? (new song?)
- Theme Song
- new song
- Sour Grapes
- Halfway Down
- Buried in the Nude
- Cortez the Killer (Neil Young cover)