MEDUSA FESTIVAL, CBGB, New York City - June 24, 2005




8:30 IMAGO


10:00 SIRSY

10:45 LOURDS

11:30 DEVOLA


No doubt you’ve heard that CBGB, one of the founding temples of punk, is in danger of closing. As the hallowed dive fights for its life, it’s still booking shows, thank goodness, and if it doesn’t make it through the summer, at least the women of the Medusa Festival gave it a real rock and roll sendoff on June 27.

In its fourth year, the brainchild of New York rocker Lourds once more featured a lineup of woman-fronted or all-woman bands, reaching across the Atlantic to Italy, and across the East River to Queens for a powerful roster of rockers.

All the way from Milan, NOMOREDOLLS landed in the East Village on the first leg of their fifth U.S. tour. Fronted by Cecilia on vocals, with Max on guitar, Ferdinando on bass and Niky on drums, Lourds selected the European band to open the evening.

“This band consistently blows me away with their powerful, hooky songwriting, their tasty musicianship, and the vocal intensity of frontwoman, Cecilia,” Lourds said of the act that opened the night. “It's no wonder, that they have amassed a devoted fan-base in the U.S. that is bigger than most indigenous American bands!"

Next up was LOVE HATES LOIS (formerly OUTER BRIDGE CROSSING), whose frontwoman, Carla, was celebrating a birthday, and drinking the Stoli O. Collinses her fans sent to the stage in a steady stream. Originating mostly in the underrated borough of Queens (Astoria, to be exact), Carla is backed by brothers Dom and Steve Spaleta on guitar and bass, Chris Ugolini on guitar, and Russ Stopek on drums.

It was high energy pop/rock, with Carla displaying flashes of a SUZI QUATRO kind of energy, and handily taking on THE PRETENDERS “Bad Boys Get Spanked,” among a lineup of originals.

New York City’s IMAGO displayed a dramatic turn, with their lead singer Melinda Bartos (who started out as an acoustic performer, but was soon drawn to her true rock calling), dramatically shaking her blond curls and revealing a charged, emotional set of pipes that had the kind of theatricality of a Cherie Currie or Martha Davis. They played full, rich songs like “Lonely Road,” and “Light Another Cigarette,” with strong, assured guitar playing from Leighton Haniff, Oren Bayone on bass and Rodney Ledbetter on drums.

JEN URBAN AND THE BOX are an all-girl band from New York who displayed their punk credentials with a song called “Fuck Me Harder Please.” (Though do punks say “please”?) Another excellent lyric was “I put my head in the lion’s mouth, just to hear it roar.” Urban plays a sparkly pink guitar and provides lead vocals, with Billie Stultz also on guitar, Monita Yee on bass and Lori T. on drums.

Going from strength to strength, SIRSY (from Albany, NY) took the stage and showed their chops (and brass…lead singer Melanie Krahmer plays a mean rock flute). A seasoned touring band with some half-a-dozen CDs to its name ruled the now-packed crowd, with songs like “Soul Sucker.” Krahmer is joined by Rich Libutti (bass), Greg Nash (drums) and Andres Jatombliansky (guitar). Lourds joined the band for its final number, her electric violin and Krahmer’s electric flute (two instruments you wouldn’t necessarily think of as being able to rock out) joining forces for a throwdown that had people dancing, making out, and making a note to see SIRSY the next time they come back to New York City.

Prior to her set, festival founder Lourds had dozens of glowsticks distributed, and people wore them on their heads, around their arms, and just waved them in the air (like they just don’t care). As thick as the crowd had been for SIRSY, it got even more tightly packed for LOURDS. People stood on chairs and held their cameras over the heads of the crowd to capture the set. Others ripped down the Medusa Festival posters to take home with them.

Lourds has been retooling her band over the last year or so, and the lineup of Lourds on vocals, violin, mandolin, electric and acoustic guitar and attitude; Sarah on drums; Gene on electric/acoustic guitar and baby-faced Joey on bass created an even harder, rockier sound than previous versions of the band.

While Lourds, the producer, is to be complimented for organizing the Medusa Festivals, it’s Lourds, the rocker, the fans come to see. With songs like “You Suck the Life Out of Me,” and “I Know Who I Am,” and telling her fans to “fuck like it’s the last day of you life,” Lourds owns whatever stage she steps on. Grooving on the mandolin to “Astropop” (the Popsicle that turns your tongue blue), Lourds told the crowd to throw its hands (and glowsticks) in the air. SIRSY’s Melanie Krahmer also joined the band onstage for another flute/violin duet on “I’m A Queen.”

LOURDS is a hard act to follow, but DEVOLA was up to the challenge.

"Being a band for a little over the year, it's amazing the buzz that DEVOLA has created,” Lourds said, explaining why she likes the relative rookies. “They are heavy, explosive, and in-your-face.” Frontwoman Elizabeth Seward sang, spat, and screamed brash lyrics with rock star ease, as Joe Vega on guitar, Mike Merlino on bass and Chuck Richard on drums pumped out tight, progressive, hardcore grooves.

The evening was closed out by GHOST ORGY.

“How can I not be intrigued by a band who features an electric violist and a fellow Pinoy frontwoman?” asked Lourds. The edgy goth/metal band bewitched the club full of devotees with its compelling stage presence and musical proficiency. The women in GHOST ORGY seduced the crowd by emoting sweetly dissonant melodies that soared over the driving metallic crunch of the rhythm section. Dina Concina commanded the melodic core with her brooding, sweeping vocals as Elena Dorofti bowed out beautifully twisted counter-melodies with her electric viola. Meric Sarkhov provides backing on guitar, Stevie Z. on bass, and Roy van Tassel is on drums.

Nothing lasts forever, and CBGB may soon be just a memory, but I suspect Lourds and her Medusa Festival will be around for a long time.

By: Kathleen Warnock for Metal Maidens/July 2005.

All photos by: Wayne Herrschaft/Headlamp Digital

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