VERUCA SALT, with STARLING, at Lee's Palace, May 9. Tickets: $12.50. Attendance: 300. Rating: NNNN
Cracking the gates of Lee's Palace for the Veruca Salt gig, I was filled with dread. Who wants to see a band that's barely past the break-up phase, especially an outfit that arose out of an intense partnership that no longer is?
With Nina Gordon, the more pop-oriented of Salt's songwriters, now long gone, no one could guarantee that a night in the company of metal priestess Louise Post would be even tolerable.
Well, shut my mouth. Post and her gang of three took to the stage and laid into Don't Make Me Prove It and then Volcano Girls, both off the two-year-old CD Eight Arms To Hold You, with a true vengeance. This, by the way, is an emotion that Post is feeling big-time, if the new CD, Resolver, is any indication.
Yet she was not at all snarly, at least not with her audience, as she catalogued the old hits and bit into the newer nuggets. The current release is a little yelly, but live -- tempered with always accessible tracks like Victrola and mega-single Seether, both off the debut album American Thighs -- the screech factor was properly balanced out.
Credit bass player and vocalist Suzanne Sokol for maintaining the female focus of the band that's Veruca Salt's calling card. She doesn't have Nina Gordon's charisma, but except for a blown opening to All Hail Me -- called All Fail Me by Post (told ya she was bitter) -- she kept things tight.
Post is the star of this show, though. In the band's early days she took pride in her less than virtuosic guitar playing and out-of-tune solos, but is obviously past that punk pose, now wielding her axe with authority and craft.
And the vocals, careening on individual songs from gentle to terrifyingly noisy, were rock-solid.
I love surprises.