January 26th, 2012
I gave a reading for my book at the Skylark cafe in December, and afterward, I hung around to talk to those who came out and thank them for coming, perhaps buy a drink or two for a select few. As I was about to leave, I heard a voice, “Hi, Dave.” It was Mia Bigliardi, the drummer for Death’s Three Daughters. I’d seen them once before in February of 2011, and though I liked some of the things they were attempting, I didn’t feel they quite got there. To quote from myself, “Illumination would have to wait.” In the Skylark, though, as I got to talking to Mia and D3D singer/guitarist Jen Stinespring, I realized they read my review of that show and used it as inspiration to strengthen their resolve and hone their musical abilities more, and to tighten their music. They didn’t say, “Fuck you for what you wrote about our band!” They welcomed the criticism and wanted more. “Sorry we missed the reading, we’re playing here tonight. You should stick around, maybe write about our show,” Mia said. It didn’t work out that night as I had other obligations, but through emails and Facebook postings and random Bailey’s-laden encounters in coffee shops on holidays, we found a suitable show that I would attend. They would play again. I would write again.
That show was Saturday, January 14 at Slim’s Last Chance. They were setting up when I arrived, and I noticed the bass player had short, white hair. White? I was expecting Red and so wondered if she was new. I perched myself at the corner of the bar, ordered a Blue Moon, and took out 1Q84 for a little pre-show reading. The bass player came over, “Thanks for coming out.” The face was familiar, same bass player, Jenny Ferrero. She saw me looking at her hair. She smiled, pointed to it, “I cut and colored it. Halloween costume. Tank Girl.”
“Nice. Is that a new bass up there?”
“Yeah, I love it. It has good action.”
“Mind if I play it a little later on?”
“Not at all.” We got to talking about the band, and I discovered they’d done some recording, a live session, 5 songs, one take each. She described it as a learning experience much as Jen and Mia had described some of the band’s critical responses. They all seemed to have the sponge quality in their determination to be a better band. Artists should always strive for such because the moment they don’t, they’re through. It matters not what you’ve done or created, but what you are doing, what you will do. Jenny said the recordings would be available on CD in February. She asked about the HUGE book on the bar and its author. I answered and mentioned one of his books was made into a movie and had its American release this month. She seemed interested so I wrote the name down on a piece of paper.
“Like the Beatles song.”
“Yeah, Murakami infuses a lot of American and European pop culture into his books. Who’s your favorite band or the band’s favorite band?”
“No question. Pearl Jam.”
“Nice. They’re one of mine too.” Mia came over then.
“Do you like PBR? The drink tickets are only good for PBR. I hate PBR.” A woman after my own heart. And why do bars do that?
“We have to start. Talk to you after the show.”
So they started, and I was impressed. They were indeed better than the three women I’d seen almost one year ago. They’d become a band. The question, then, was what kind of band that was. I liked the spacey, simple two note opening of “Blood Mountain” and also the heavy building of the ascending chord progression that ends the same song. There’s the U2-like (think old U2) “Waiting Room”, a tune that they later told me was an overwhelming fan favorite. I had to agree. They kept that one pretty straightforward and didn’t clutter it up with unnecessary changes or odd parts. Sometimes a simple song is all the better for it. They stuck to the progression, the melody, the hook, and they didn’t make it heavy and fast for the sake of making it heavy and fast. It was a good song, and judging by the applause, a fan favorite.
There’s the more punk rock, and very short, “54 Roses” which they said was a band favorite for the energy it had. And it did. There was the cool opening bass groove of “Stars & Angels” that I’d like to hear them develop in the manner Jane’s Addiction’s “Summertime Rolls”, just the same bass line all the way through and the great dynamic sweeps of the other instruments. But they didn’t do that. The song suddenly became heavy and more up tempo. It wasn’t bad, but it reminded me of two different songs. I liked them both so it made me think they were still defining for themselves what kind of band they were and wanted to be, and how to write songs as that band.
And that’s a good thing. It means they’re still taking chances, stretching their limits, finding their way. After the show, I got a brief history of the band. I learned they hadn’t even been together for two years and had only played their instruments for just about that same length of time too. That’s not bad. They’re in a good spot of being young, passionate, and in discovery mode, still developing their style as individual musicians and as a group. I’ve heard them compared to Sleater-Kinney, but I like D3D better, and I suppose that’s because of the bass. It gives them something Sleater-Kinney didn’t have. I was glad I’d given them a second chance. As musicians, they’re not through yet, and if they write a few more tunes like “Waiting Room”, they may not be through for quite some time.
Death’s Three Daughters will be playing this Friday at the Skylark Cafe in West Seattle. Tickets are $5.00