Photo by Junette Reyes/FIUSM
Winding up on a Thursday night at The Garret for Degeneration, with a display of motorcycles and their owners right outside on the curb, the last thing you’d expect would be a group of young girls to start off the show. At least a group of sweet-looking young girls with their bejeweled faces, stockings and short skirts. Such was the case on the night of July 24, where riot grrrl band Landica, hailing from Miami, played their little hearts out to an unsuspecting crowd.
Comprised of vocalists Samantha De Armas and Ashley Chacon, guitarist Precious Navarro, bassist Karen Ramirez, and drummer Stacy Trezona, Landica took their places in a dimly lit corner of The Garret, jokingly introducing themselves as the Belly Grrrls.The barely legal bunch then started off their set with an a cappella take on the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” nursery rhyme. Their appearance alone could throw off anyone, in terms of anticipating their sound when watching them for the first time, but this intro, sang in a cutesy manner by Armas and Chacon, would never hint to what was to follow.
Whatever impression the girls might have made on the crowd before fully playing was immediately shattered when they followed this up with “Witch,” a track that had Armas and Chacon act out a skit of what appeared to be a passive aggressive argument between the two. The acting out of unscripted skits is a common occurrence in Landica’s performances, with Armas and Chacon sometimes taking on the role of a couple breaking up.
The group continued with somewhat of a shaky start, not able to fully engage the audience until they played tracks “I’m Sorry” and “No Pants,” with Chacon urging the audience to remove their pants for the latter.
The highlight of the group’s set was the track titled “Mom,” which has been improvised every time since they played it for their first show as a dedication to Ramirez’s mom. Although a dedication, the song sounds like a demented expression of love to the mother, which is what the girls meant to do by repeatedly shrieking “mom” throughout the song over Ramirez’s rough experimentations on the bass.
Landica finally ended the set with “Ham,” their overall performance having grown stronger and more confident as they went. Theirs is still a young sound, the band only having formed nine months ago, but they have certainly come a long way and have a lot of time ahead of them to fully hone in their sound.
The Grey 8s, also hailing from Miami, followed after Landica, with a stark contrast not only in the choice of genre but in the performance as well. Whereas Landica is still a newly formed band, The Grey 8s is one that has been established since 2008, when vocalist and guitarist Danny Garcia and drummer Andres Bedoya started playing together in, surprisingly, a church. Contrary to their origins, their garage rock sound is anything but holy, and it showed with their set.
With the help of their newly added bassist, László Piringer, who was playing a headless bass, The Grey 8s comfortably and confidently started the set to a crowd already familiarized with the group. This familiarity could be seen through the ease of interaction with the crowd the guys had throughout the whole performance with their banter.
“Ain’t Got No Fire,” started off the set with a high energy that was maintained throughout and picked up even more so for “Tame Surfer,” a fun track in the spirit of surf rock.
At one point, the guys had technical difficulties due to the accidental interference of an audience member with their gear. After some help from Deaf Poets’ Sean Wouters, Garcia smoothly transitioned back into the song Bedoya and Piringer were patiently looping while waiting for things to be resolved.
All tracks were original songs of the The Grey 8s with the exception of “Freaking Out the Neighborhood,” the group’s attempt at a Mac Demarco cover. Although it had a bit of an uncertain start, the guys managed to pull off a decent cover and were greeted with approval from the crowd.
The highlight of their set was the track titled “I Want to Burn,” which Bedoya joked about being a theme for the Heat. The group finally ended their set with “Eye to Eye,” after Garcia had the crowd urge Bedoya to continue, despite being visibly exhausted from not only drumming but also climbing his drum set during a previous track.
The Talking Dogs closed off the wonderful night with locals at The Garret.
The Grey 8s’ Setlist
“Ain’t Got No Fire”
“Made Me Look”
“Freaking Out the Neighborhood” (Mac Demarco Cover)
“I Want to Burn”
“Eye to Eye”