These Girls Can Rock: Potty Mouth at DC’s Rock & Roll Hotel

Potty Mouth

Washington, DC – The punk, fuzz rock band Potty Mouth played H Street’s Rock & Roll Hotel this past Saturday to a crowded house. The all-female quartet left little room for banter, jumping right into a mix of Sun Damage and 2013’s Hell Bent (Old Flame Records) as soon as they took the stage. Audience members rarely heard from the band, except when they thanked their tour mates or announced the odd song. The band was busy doling out their post-punk to entertain the audience some other way and righteously so: unafraid to play their instruments, hacking away at their guitar necks with pic slides and making as much noise as possible.

Stagnant did not seem to be a word in the Potty Mouth dictionary. Guitarist Ali Donohue and vocalist/guitarist Abby Weems feverously paced the stage during songs like “Spins” and “Dog Song,” shaking their heads along with the audience. “Dog Song,” which was originally released on the band’s 2011 tape Bad Bad, represented an earlier sound for Potty Mouth. The low-fi recording doesn’t do the short-but-clever song justice. In a live setting, this relatively new band’s brand of guitar rock really earns its salt. The little riffs that dot their songs are infectious and had Saturday night’s audience jamming along.

The band’s bright instrumentals have since matured into tracks like “The Better End.” For that song Donohue, rather than Weems, took lead vocals and screeched out Potty Mouth’s characteristic pithy lyrics and in the words of NPR’s Bob Boilen, who was in attendance that night, “the place sort of exploded.” The steady strum of the guitar coupled with Victoria Mandanas’ crashing drumline won the audience over in a measure. Another pop-minded crowd pleaser of the night was “Twister.”

The show was billed as all-ages and that’s who showed up. Middle schoolers with thick Xs criss-crossing their hands, middle-aged men (the fathers of the former?), 20-somethings, 30-somethings and beyond. Some shows yield an audience that could be boiled down to a few stereotypes – indie kids, scene-sters, etc. Potty Mouth brought music fans to Northeast DC that night.

There was something almost inspirational about the variety of fans in attendance, evidence that grrrl rock wasn’t just a passing phase of the nineties. Potty Mouth represents what talented girls in punk rock look like in the modern age: a band. By being less outwardly political and browbeating about their feminism and their roots, Potty Mouth is forcing a non-gendered conversation and rightfully so. They compel a conversation void of gender. They don’t merit attention because they wear dresses on-stage, rather they earn it because of their talent. The fact that the band is all-women doesn’t add to or detract from their sound. But for those still checking, yes these girls can rock.

Zoe Marquedant

Zoe Marquedant

Zoe Marquedant is a Marylander now living in Brooklyn. She recently graduated from Sarah Lawrence College where she majored in Journalism and English literature. She is a freelance journalist, who primarily writes on music and culture. Her work can be seen in Boston Magazine, Highlight Magazine as well as on rsvlts.com, mxdwn.com and Baeblemusic.com. When not writing, Zoe is probably working her way through a new series on Netflix, researching new pie recipes and collecting dumb jokes (e.g. Two fish are in a tank. One turns to the other and says, "You man the guns. I’ll drive.") Follow her vain attempts at mastering social media at @zoenoumlaut
Zoe Marquedant