January 3, 2013

Potty Mouth

The ladies of Potty Mouth intimidate me, which is partly why I've been putting off writing about them for far too long. It all started about four months ago when I set out to see the all-female punk quartet play on a stacked bill of New England's most exciting up and coming scenemakers such as BUZZSound alumni Speedy Ortiz and Connecticut fuzz rockers Ovlov at the Flywheel in Easthampton, but things certainly took a turn for the awkward that night. For starters, the headlining act (who I won't name, but will say weren't locals) apparently demanded they warm up for an hour around the same time the show itself was slated to start. It set off a string of unexpected delays, and while organizers kept patrons at bay outside, I had already paid my way into the space without anyone's realization. Unbeknownst that everything was running behind schedule, I sat inside the venue on a card table trying not to look like I cared about the late start that would eventually cut into my bedtime on a work night as the headliners did their rock star mic check to an audience of one. A few minutes later, all four members of Potty Mouth strolled in looking a bit confused themselves, coolly setting their gear against the wall and debating whether or not it was time to set up their merch. I think it was because I was the only other person in the room who wasn't on stage or behind the soundboard that made it entirely inevitable that myself and either Abby, Ally, Phoebe or Victoria would exchange quick glances from across the floor, each time looking for an answer as to what the deal with the show was. It wasn't long until I felt like these four women with locks dyed half-blonde and half-brunette began to sense that I was the stranger in the room who wasn't supposed to be there -- their glares transforming into pierced visions --  and using the hour-long delay at that point as a justification, I high-tailed it out of there and left altogether without seeing anyone play.

I could be slightly romanticizing this memory (something I often tend to do,) but it's this over-powering magnetic confidence that naturally exudes from the moment Potty Mouth step foot into a room which is helping re-cement Western Masschusetts' backbone as the vibrant indie rock culture it was back in the '90s along with their Northampton neighbors Speedy Ortiz and Amherst's California X. Two years strong, drummer Victoria Mandanas formed Potty Mouth while at Smith College with friends Ally Einbinder on bass, guitarists Phoebe Harris and frontwoman Abby Weems, amassing attention since from tastemaker scribes like Jenn and Liz Pelly through an early cassette demo and last year's 12" EP, Sun Damage, available through a trifecta of labels in Puzzle Pieces out of Brooklyn, Cambridge, MA's Ride the Snake and their adopted hometown friends, Feeble Minds. These four chicks stand out in the WMass brat pack, however, not just because of their striking fashion sense, but because they bring just as much grunge crush into the speakers with half as much reverb and compact hooks that shop cues from Breeders or a surfier version of Sonic Youth's Kim Gorden-led hits. "Damage," their new single and first listen from their forthcoming as-yet-to-be-titled debut LP, plays to these strengths while getting the band off to a good start in the new year. Their sounds are simply too good to ignore, and whether I like it or not, it looks like 2013 is the year I'll resolute to getting over my fear of Potty Mouth.

Directed by: Alle Kern

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