Girls Got Rhythm Fest night one at Amsterdam Bar and Hall, 5/10/13
Girls Got Rhythm Fest night one
Photo by Erik Hess
With the Avengers, the Gateway District, the Pinsch, Total Trash
Amsterdam Bar and Hall, St. Paul
Friday, May 10, 2013
While our local summer festival circuit seems to grow exponentially with every passing year, the 2012 maiden voyage of St. Paul's Girls Got Rhythm Fest made a strong case for its return by championing a criminally under-served pocket of our local music community. It's a strange irony that a town like ours, inundated with the rock 'n' roll feminism that gave birth to icons like Babes in Toyland, didn't have an event of this scale to celebrate women until a year ago.
While that first run of GGR may have suffered some of the setbacks that plague many festival start-ups, organizers Dana Raidt and Travis Ramin wisely decided to narrow their focus this time. Focusing on guitar-heavy, punk-minded groups created a far more cohesive experience, and landing San Francisco pop-punk archetypes the Avengers for the headlining slot made for a truly unique lineup on night one.
Apparently Raidt and Ramin have a sense of humor, as they decided to let Minneapolis hardcore wonderkids Total Trash kick off the festival with a characteristically caustic set on Friday evening. Not only are they good deal younger than GGR's target demographic, but they were the heaviest band on the bill for either of the festival's two days by a long shot. Fresh off of a barnstorming Midwest tour that seems to have honed their furious attack even further, Jessica Katz and co. ripped through a short but incisive set that may have been a bit too much for the still-warming crowd to handle. Never one to let a reluctant audience stop them, the band still brought the spitting, wild-eyed charisma that made their tape release back in March such a blast.
Photos by Erik Hess
For a pinch-hitter, second act the Pinsch did an admirable job of holding the room after Total Trash blew the doors off. Featuring Travis Ramin himself on drums and the terrible twosome of Miss Georgia Peach and Sheela Namakkal sharing frontwoman duties, the group specializes in sloppy, tongue-in-cheek power-pop. Possessing an impressive resume with names like Speedway, the Short Fuses and the Divebomb Honey on it, the Pinsch itself has a bit more of a weekend-warrior pickup band vibe about them, which isn't meant to be a dig at all. Instead, it makes for a lived-in chemistry and frequently hilarious banter that helped sell the already catchy musical material.
With open-throated, big-hearted harmonies married to crunching four-chord riffs, it's just impossible not to smile when watching the Pinsch. During their penultimate tune, bassist Francis Jimenez-Kloeckl broke his low-E string, which normally requires a pair of tin-snips or some seriously herculean strength and finished the song without breaking a sweat. When his bandmates tried to pause before the closer to get him a new bass to play, Francis waved it away and used his remaining three to finish out the night.
After one false start during their sound-check, the Gateway District returned to the Amsterdam's sizeable stage at 11 p.m. to kick of a gloriously drunken performance. While the phrase "local supergroup" is quickly becoming a cliché around these parts, Gateway District really does represent something of Twin Cities pop-punk dream team. Maren Macosko (known as Sturgeon in her Soviettes days) and Carrie Bleser, formerly of the Salteens make a fearsome duo on the microphone, singing together with such practiced ease that you'd think they grew up in bands together.