Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Be Your Own Pet and the Raveonettes - March 4 at the El Rey.

From 2005's Damn Damn Leash EP forward, I couldn't stomach Be Your Own Pet, and much of this had to do with vocalist Jemina Pearl Abegg. She's got the teen punk look down to a science, her growl is atrocious and only highlights her youth, and much like a kid who's just discovered swearing, she's in the habit of placing a harder emphasis on words like “sex” or “fuck.” See Beyond the Valley of the Dolls-referencing “The Kelly Affair,” for one.

Today, Jemina Pearl is twenty, and her style completely unchanged. Even her lyrics for brand new song “Becky,” to the tune of “The Locomotion,” are pure high school humor, and that voice remains, well, atrocious. But on stage, everything about her somehow works, from her aggression in song and dance to the way her hair swishes about. She's not a singer, she's a front woman, with a real, complete presence.

Behind her is a solid, if not precocious poppy punk band, and opening for the Raveonettes on this night, BYOP played hard and well. New bassist Nathan Vasquez bled all over his bass, new drummer John Eatherly was cool in face and firm in hand, and guitarist Jonas Stein served as proof that vocal duties do not provide the instant key to band leadership. On the whole, a surprisingly fine lead-in to the attractive Danes who would follow.

And what can be said about the Raveonettes that isn't already apparent from their recordings? Live, they are an enhanced version of what they sound on record – a duo wildly attractive, as calm as can be, and apparently, lacking sweat glands. Sharin and Sune Rose balance each other beautifully on guitar, Sharin on rhythm and Sune Rose on lead, and though equally soft-spoken, make up for their lack of speech or volume by speaking through their Jazzmasters. Sune Rose is an underrated guitarist, it turns out, and looks like an outlaw next to Sharin's leggy blonde mod. Rounding them out was a touring drummer, a beautiful androgynous woman who (think Hannah Blilie of the Gossip) could easy appeal to either sex or orientation, and maintained the straightest of faces in front of her tom and snare.

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