Their sound was like experimental post-hardcore progressive rock, and was all over the place in a crazy, quickly changing rhythmic way. They could go from fun plucky guitar into dizzying distorted chaos in seconds. They also have a math rock element to them, speeding up and slowing down and cycloning all around. This 4 piece from Sacramento, CA was really fun to watch, and the crowd was loving it. They were more well-known than I thought, as at least half the crowd knew all the words to the songs, and moshed accordingly. The whole room was jumping, and the sweat was starating to fly. I almost feared for my camera’s life, but really the party was just starting. Marnie Stern was right on the sidelines at the end, taking video and dancing just offstage.
When Stern came out, the crowd erupted and she was all smiles. She dove right into her high energy set, swinging her guitar around and screaming into the microphone. The lyrics were a bit hard to catch for the most part, but the kids in the crowd knew the words anyway, and I was too busy watching her rapid finger tapping on the guitar to really focus on anything else. Of the lyrics I caught, they sounded very positive, like on “Transparency is the New Mystery”: “In order to see it, you’ve got to believe it. I do.” On the “I do,” her voice quickly escalates about an octoave in range while drummer Zach Hill (from Hella) keeps time with his own technically sound percussive skills.
Marnie Stern is the latest definition of a rocker chick. She plays in a progressive metal style, but in a really playful and fun way. She’s smiling the entire time, playing off of the bassist and drummer as well as the crowd. Between songs she told stories of being the only girl on the road with 8 dudes, which are a little too explicit to quote here on BestNewBands.com, but her sense of humor was really relatable. Her guitar playing and finger tapping technique, however, is a step above.
Tera Melo’s singer/guitarist Nick Reinhart joined her onstage, and the crowd went totally wild. I’m pretty sure Tera Melo bassist Nathan Latona was one of the stage divers, but that’s when it started becoming difficult to know what was what anymore. There was nothing but pure adrenaline in the room. After Marnie Stern and her bandmates left the stage, the kids clamored for one more song. Stern graciously obliged, finger tapping out the fiercest song of the night.
After watching her perform, it’s easy to see why her debut album in 2007 was called "The year's most exciting rock 'n' roll album." By The New York Times, and Venus Magazine named her one of the “Greatest Female Guitarists Of All Time" in 2008. Why haven’t more people heard about her yet? I think it’s only a matter of time.
Marnie Stern and Tera Melos are also on tour with Headless Horseman, hitting up Canada and then across the northern US to California. Marnie has 3 albums out, the latest being her Self-Titled, all released on Kill Rock Stars. Tera Melos’ newest EP, Zoo Weather, was recently released on cassette only through Seargent House.