Review: The Girls Are Back in Town – Little War Twins, Bent Knee, S0l0 S3xx and Claudia Varona Live at the Cantab Lounge

While Stella Atoris-headed yuppies say the Cantab Lounge smells like urine, Full Scene Ahead’s Club Bohemia Saturday night girl-power bill replaced that with the scent of womanhood. (I’m tiptoeing around the word feminist because I don’t want to tell you the walls smelled like menstrual blood and Mary Wollstonecraft novels.)

Claudia Varona and the Phobia were first up on the bill. Generally, I believe that acoustic rock should be a reserved listen for bad break-ups, served with a grain of salt and a fifth of whiskey. The Phobia duo, however, is a more comfortable listen especially compared to the punk bands that usually frequent the Cantab. Sure Varona and the Phobia sound like most indie-folk bands, but Varona lacks that nasally, whiny voice and therefore, by the end of her set, I was able to offer her applause instead of a tissue.

Next came Licious. Licious carries the same delicate sound Varona brought downstairs, however, with a semi-electronic (and dare I say, psychedelic) sound. Animal Collective fused with Lykke Li comes to mind. The thing that really stands out for me is the cellist. (Williamsburg, keep your banjos at home, Beantown is more obscure.) Also worth mentioning, the cellist sports a similar hairstyle to Dave Crespo and therefore, showcases complete style and swag. (Unlike the girl that dragged her Sperry’s from the South End, slipped into a sequin skirt that had so many colors the tag should read NAACP, and wondered if her peplum top made her vodka and tonic look fat. I’m talking about myself by the way.)

After that, my favorites of the night S0L0 S3XX shook things up. While the bartender suggested, “If this had been men performing, there would have been a riot,” I think Solo Sexx gave the boys a run for their money. The frontchicks of S0L0 S3XX essentially performed the female version of a Death Grips show. S0L0 S3XX crafted something similar to Salt N Peppa and Yo Majesty. The hardcore dancing in the audience, however, proved they rock a little harder than that. I especially enjoyed their cover of “I Believe I Can Fly” even if it did lack R. Kelley’s golden showers. Also, I give them props for their DOMA salutation. Why should Macklemore get all the attention?

Of course, most of these Bohemians came to see Little War Twins return home after a US tour that included Philly, San Fran, and other places further than my hometown, Winthrop (you probably have never even heard of it). Singer and guitarist Gaetana Brown was bouncy and playful on stage, and those that were not too intimidated by Solo Sexx’s set stayed around to dance. Little War Twins is like a lo-fi, soulful version of No Doubt and those of us that were around in the nineties can appreciate that. For more street points, I’ll compare them to the lesser known band, Shannon and the Clams.

As the night came to an end, I stumbled around outside and upstairs. As a band performed a Led Zeppelin cover upstairs, I mentioned that Bent Knee recorded one of the best ones I ever heard without even realizing they were the last act of the night. Bent Knee is like the Dresden Dolls with less piano and more violin. The band’s sound alternates between Irish step dancing, Fiona Apple, and even at times, Van Hale. It is the most versatile and darkest performance of the night. Bent Knee offers emotional depth before you even listen to the lyrics. While a lot of the other bands got us dancing, Bent Knee was the reason we smoked cigarettes, engaged in deep thinking, and starred at our feet (and I truly mean that in a good way). The actual talent here disables them from becoming just another sappy, gloomy pop band and is the reason they are called Bent Knee and not broken heart.

I usually tell people to visit the Cantab because the drinks are stronger than the Mass Ave staggering homeless men’s breath. I think this show has provided another reason.

Special thanks to guest contributor Nicole Anzuoni