Four New York-based, all-woman and non-binary bands took to the stage at The Gateway on Feb. 28. The evening was triumphantly marketed as a night of bands that are, for once, not fronted by straight white men.
Wielding a decorated ukulele case up to the stage, singer and songwriter Mae Krell began the show, serving soft, melody-driven indie rock with confessional lyricism reminiscent of Bright Eyes and The Mountain Goats. Krell’s voice was definitely the highlight of their set, delivering sweet, velvety vocals through each earnest tune. Alternating between ukulele and guitar, the set would have most certainly benefited from additional acoustic instruments to complement and add variety to the stripped down approach.
The Rose Monarch graced the stage next, rolling out an electric piano to center stage. April Rose Gabrielli, the lead singer of the female-fronted rock band, performed a solo set consisting of the band’s discography. The typically dark, modern rock sound of the band was delicately reworked into soulful piano ballads — further complimented by Gabrielli’s formidable range. One tune, “Luna,” was particularly memorable, evoking a repetitive yearning for the titular character accompanied by an emotive, chaotic roar from the electric piano.
The atmosphere of the room completely changed once eclectic powerhouse InRod shuffled onstage, bringing a rhythm-heavy concoction of old-school punk, rock and funk to the table. Representing scenes from New York City, Baltimore, New Jersey, Buffalo, Massachusetts and Long Island, the quartet delivered a sound demonstrating the group’s diverse musical backgrounds.
Lead singer Ria Smith was a joy to watch moving about the stage, radiating a vibrant, infectious energy that the crowd drew from. Eliciting a sound vaguely reminiscent of the Descendents and The Lillingtons, the rock outfit consistently delivered hard-hitting, toe-tapping tunes. A crowd favorite tune “The Dick Punchers Anthem” brought a unique comedic flavor to the show, sending the audience of locals and friends into an neighborly chorus.
The last and final act, Brooklyn’s own girl band, Tonya Harding, was nothing short of spectacular. Taking inspiration from bands such as Girlpool, Bikini Kill and FIDLAR, the female duo — comprised of Martha Harrison and Mary Cass — churned out delightfully bitter, frank and straightforward punk as told from a female perspective. The duo covered several songs from their upcoming album due in May as well as a few tunes from their latest release, “Punk is Dad.” In a show stopping performance of their unreleased song “The L Train,” the band meditated on the closing of the convenient and iconic subway line that runs from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Shudders ran through the crowd as Harrison sighed the refrain, “The L train is closing in 2019,” lighters and phone lights swayed along with the somber instrumentals. The set continued with highlights “Gov’t. Funded Army of Sluts,” lamenting on the plight of inaccessibility to birth control, and an untitled song simply listing off the names of rapists in the news — a song that, according to Harrison, “isn’t long enough to list everyone.”
Delivering whimsical, candid confessions of everyday life reminiscent of Kimya Dawson and Cyberbully Mom Club, Tonya Harding remains a hidden gem in the local scene. The band will be performing again in Brooklyn at Muchmore’s on March 18.
Email Nicole Rosenthal at [email protected]