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Spinanes/Lois/Tiger Trap (Puncture, 1993)


The Chameleon, San Francisco, Spring 1993

Three supreme cool bands, each better than the one before. Tiger Trap, a very young female quartet, had a hard-hitting drummer who threw out one roaring pop gem after another. One song in four was bliss, the rest impossible to dislike. A Marine Girls/Buzzcocks mix with meandering, bell-like lead-guitar melodies on top. A great moment came when the drummer strapped on a guitar, stared at the crowd, and gasped, “Look at all these people!” The song she sang turned out to be another show-stopper.

Lois Maffeo, with Bratmobile’s Molly drumming, showed how to hold an audience in the palm of your hand. Her set got off to a disastrous start that a lesser performer might not have recovered from. After a shaky rendition of “Bonds In Seconds,” a string snapped on her acoustic guitar and she had no spare. Handing the guitar to the Spinanes’ Rebecca (“I know, if I were a real riot grrrl, I’d change it myself”), she won the room over with chat, wisecracks, and joking yet impeccable a capella renditions of the Zombies’ “The Way I Feel Inside” and the Smiths’ “Girlfriend In A Coma.” By the time her guitar was restored we were her slaves. Warmed up and in good voice, she cruised through a magnificent set of lilting folk-pop numbers. The scathing post-Dorothy Parker wit seen in Lois’s past writing in these pages is evident in her songs, and her music comes off best in a live setting.

My previous impression of the Spinanes came from hearing “Jad Fair Drives Women Wild” (from K’s International Pop Underground Convention live album) on the radio; I expected something like Beat Happening with Heather doing all the vocals. I’d have been quite happy if it had been like that, but it wasn’t. I was amazed by the towering presence of Rebecca gates, and the raw power and dexterity she and drummer Scott Plouf exerted onstage. Imagine Fugazi with a female singer taking on the Verlaines catalog. (One song even wryly appropriates the chorus of “Death And The Maiden.”) Rebecca’s fingers twisted into fretboard positions I’ve never seen, and at times she sounded like two or three guitarists at once. Dazzling, stirring songs: a perfect evening.