She Wants Revenge, Nico Vega Warehouse Live June 12, 2011
Aftermath made our way into Warehouse Live Saturday night, expecting to dance our pants off to some She Wants Revenge, whom we had put on the backburner after we overcame and outgrew our angsty, teenage years. But there was a surprise waiting for us inside - a beautiful, hard-rocking bombshell of a band that made remember that rock and roll can be sexy for male concertgoers, too.
As we walked inside, a woman in a white dress onstage asked all the ladies present to put their hands into the air. She then began to chant, "I won't be afraid of anything! I won't be afraid of anything!" as the venue was filled with the shrill screams of every woman in attendance.
Wishing we had arrived earlier, we made our way to the merch tables to find out the band's name. Nico Vega, we learned, have been to Houston before; what we still don't know, however, is why we had never heard of them before Saturday.
The next song they began to play was poppy and energetic. While the ladies seemed to be having the most fun, as seems to be the case at most of the shows Aftermath attends, everyone was swept up in Nico Vega's music. And what followed, a song we later learned is called "Beast," completely astounded us.
Front woman Aja Volkman announced, "This will be our last song of the evening," to a resounding number of boos, as heavy, bluesy guitar riffs set above pulse-pounding drums drew the entire crowd into a collaborative head bob (you know, that thing we white people do when we try to dance) and ended with cheers, screams and an overall frenzy of the group's fans and newcomers alike.
If you ever thought that female lead singers couldn't rock, Nico Vega will prove you wrong. Volkman's voice makes you beg for more and beg for mercy at the same time. Then you feel something tingling all over your body, and your ears climax.
That's the PG-13 feeling, at least.
She Wants Revenge, meanwhile, returned to Houston for the first time in four years, by front man Justin Warfield's math. [Ed. Note: By others' math, they opened for Psychedelic Furs at the same venue last year.] This time around, the L.A. group is promoting their third full-length studio album, Valleyheart, the highly anticipated follow-up to 2007's This Is Forever.
For the rest of the evening, everyone was swept up into Warfield's voice as Adam Bravin, also known as DJ Adam 12, and the backing band worked melodic keytones and guitar riffs beneath the vocals. To someone unfamiliar with their music, SWR may sound a little monotonous.
And while that's a valid point, it's the underlying intricacies and even the simplicity of some songs that make them so striking. One minute, it's Interpol-ish, then it becomes more and more geared toward synth-pop. All the while, Bravin's lyrics grow darker and darker, and it all abruptly ends just before you think it will.
While SWR put on quite the show to an energetic crowd, it was the underappreciated Nico Vega whose songs kept playing over and over in our heads after we had left Warehouse Live.
They need to get in touch with the Dead Weather, the Ettes... Hell, even the Cranberries, for crying out loud. Because, for as hard-rocking of a group as they are, Nico Vega still isn't a household name.
Yet, we assume.
Personal Bias: We can't remember how or when we were introduced to SWR, but ever since we heard "Tear You Apart," it's been stuck in our heads, and not exactly against our will either. Plenty of SWR songs are enjoyable, but "Tear You Apart" is still our favorite.
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Overheard In the Crowd: "I'm drunk. Can I stand with you guys? I don't want to fall asleep... My name's Mary!"
Random Notebook Dump: Speaking of "Tear You Apart," its music video was directed by actor-turned-musician-turned-media-prankster Joaquin Phoenix.