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Siren Festival 2010: Screaming Females Blog About Their...

Screaming Females

Screaming Females

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The Alternate Side asked Screaming Females' intrepid drummer Jarrett Dougherty if he'd blog about the New Brunswick band's adventures at Saturday's Siren Festival on Coney Island. And yes, despite a few worries about their gig, which fell between Dom and Surfer Blood on the mainstage, Jarrett even made it onto The Cyclone rollercoaster.

The bluesy, sometimes brutal, fuzz punk-slashed trio - Jarrett, bassist "King" Mike Abbate and singer/guitarist Marissa Paternoster - will release their fourth album Castle Talk on September 14 on Don Giovanni Records and they'll be kicking off what promises to be a scorching US tour on August 13 at Maxwell's in Hoboken. More dates in the UK and Europe will follow this fall. Earlier this summer, the ferocious Pasternoster also released her debut solo album, Holy Hell, under the moniker of Noun.

As for Jarrett, we're happy he brought along sunscreen to Coney Island (his drumsticks didn't get sunburned at all):

So, Siren Fest. Growing up in New Jersey, as I did, Siren Fest was always this thing that I would hear about, think about attending, but never actually make it to. The summer sun and the hours of subway riding had always kept me away, even the one summer I lived in Brooklyn. Looking back it seems impossible that I managed to avoid it as long as I did. I guess destiny caught up with me this year as my band, Screaming Females, found our way onto the bill.

Everyone we talked to seemed to have horror stories and expert advice on Village Voice’s free summer festival. I think sunburn/sunscreen was the one tossed around most. We were also repeatedly told that the sound on stage would be awful and we wouldn’t be able to use our own gear and that we wouldn’t get any kind of soundcheck. And that since we were playing at 2 in the afternoon that we might play to no one. Sounds great, right? So at 8:30 am on Saturday July 17 we loaded up a borrowed van (our last one recently kicked the bucket in New Mexico) and took off toward Coney Island with low expectations.

I’m pretty sure we were the first band there. But that’s the story with 95% of the shows we play. We rather get loaded in, set up, and hang around for a while. That way we are sure not to spend money trying to see the sights or something. We brought along a little entourage of people to help us through the day. A van full of New Brunswick, New Jersey punks and weirdos. Before we even got parked I was informed that I should load my drumset back into the van because there was a rented backline that I would need to use. We parked the van and left all the gear right where it was. I had a lovely talk with the stage manager and stage crew.

“Tell me exactly why you have to use your own drumkit.”

“Because if I don’t I’m going to play like s**t.”

We stared at each other for a while.

“Okay fine. But you better have that thing set up and on stage and ready to go.”

Ted Leo and his crew showed up not long after that. They made fun of us for starting in on the free beer at 10:45 am but they quickly followed suit. I made sure to drink a few more beers than I normally would and about 10 bottles of water right before we went on. The beer was to prepare for the bad sound, the lack of people, and all the other aspects I was assured were going to suck. The water was because it was 100 degrees outside.

We walked out on stage and there were a sea of people waiting. The Cyclone was roaring by every few minutes. I told the sound guy to turn my monitor off. Mike told him the same. Better to have no mix than a crazy one. I decided to bash on my drums for a while before the first song. Mike and Marissa did similar things to their guitars. Walking out in front of a bunch of people is strange. Add in a roller coaster, intense heat, midday sun, absolutely no warm up, and it gets really strange. The idea of politely saying hello and breaking into a song in that state is too much for me. Better to just make some random sounds and beat the s**t out of the drums for a second. Think about how it feels to move my body around like that. Consider the sounds I’m making and how they fit together, even if an outsider might just consider it nonsense. Begin to relearn how I can control these sounds and order them into music. After I do that for a few minutes I’m ready to play.

My eyes burn from sweat and sunscreen. I keep them sealed shut. I grab for a towel a few times to wipe it out of my eyes. This is the first time I’ve ever used a towel onstage.

Then the set is over. No major blunders. A few excellent impromptu interludes. A bit of mind meld improvisation. A couple tempos a little quicker than normal. I walk off feeling great. One of the best sets we’ve played in months. Now I have a full day to drink free beer, eat free food, do a couple of interviews, and shoot the s**t with my Jersey friends and Ted Leo and The Pharmacists. I even got to ride the Cyclone for free. All those horror stories seem to have been greatly overblown. It was a really fun day at the beach.

- Jarrett D

Screaming Females US Tour Dates

8/13 - Maxwell's - Hoboken, NJ

8/15 - Golden West Cafe - Baltimore, MD

8/16 - Gallery Five - Richmond, VA

8/17 - JJ's Bohemia - Chattanooga, TN

8/18 - Exit/ In - Nashville, TN

8/19 - The Bishop - Bloomington, IN

8/20 - F**king Awesome Fest (Magic Stick) - Detroit, MI

8/29 - Red Room - Boise, ID

9/2 - Rainshadow Space - Reno, NV

9/3 - Thee Parkside - San Francisco, CA

9/4 - FYF Fest 2010 - Los Angeles, CA

9/5 - Awesome Fest 4 - San Diego, CA

9/6 - Trunk Space - Phoenix, AZ

9/8 - Mohawk - Austin, TX

9/9 - Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Theater - New Orleans, LA

9/10 - The Farside - Tallahassee, FL

9/11 - The Atlantic - Gainesville, FL

9/12 - Secret Squirrel - Athens, GA

9/13 - Static Age Records - Asheville, NC

9/14 - Black Cat - Washington, DC

9/16 - The Ox - Philadelphia, PA

9/19 - Brew Not Bombs (Portage Theater) - Chicago, IL