By Allyson Bills
Driving in remote areas to your destination can be unforgiving, and even more so when something goes wrong. This was the case last night for tour headliners L.A.’s Death Valley Girls, whose van broke down somewhere in the desert. Therefore, they had to cancel their Phoenix date in order to attend to their van issues. I only learned of this news by the people who work at The Trunk Space, where the show took place, moments when I walked in the doors. The show still went on with Death Valley Girls’ tour-mates L.A. Witch (also from L.A.) and Phoenix’s own French Girls to play for the crowd on a Sunday night.
Local openers French Girls have been around for a few years, and play an unabashed brand of garage rock that would make anyone want to dance. I actually did see a few people in the crowd dance throughout their set. Each member of French Girls has their own French moniker with Che Beret on vocals/guitar, Jean Jacques Clouseau III on guitar/vocals, Michel Oui Oui on guitar/vocals and Chiffon Baton on drums. I took five years of French in both high school and college, so I always appreciate anyone who uses French in any sort of art form.
Don’t be fooled by their name, French Girls can rock. They plowed through their half-hour set like no tomorrow beginning with “Aerobicise” off their self-titled EP. I was tired before the show began, and smelled food in the venue. However, French Girls woke me up and made me forget about the smell of food. Except when they played “Pizza Party,” which Che Beret let the crowd know after the song was finished, “yeah, that one’s about pizza.” Now I’m hungry again, despite already eating dinner. Besides Beret playing some killer riffs in their songs, there are also some great harmonies from Clouseau III and Oui Oui as demonstrated in both “Muscle Beach” and “Soda Pop.” If you haven’t seen French Girls before, I suggest you check them out whenever they play next time in the Valley.
Next up were headliners (at least on this Sunday night) L.A. Witch, a three-piece consisting of Sade Sanchez on vocals/guitar, Irita Pai on bass/vocals and Ellie English on drums. They also play garage rock (this seems to be the running theme), but with a more darker tone reminiscent of Joan Jett, and even Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. L.A. Witch began their half hour set at approximately 9:37 p.m. with “I Feel Alright” to a very loud rhythm section of Pai and English. It was like they were playing to a full room. They continued their rhythm-heavy set through to “Kill My Baby Tonight,” a single they released in May of this year, which highlighted Pai’s bass in the beginning of the song. This song reminded me of The Dum Dum Girls with Sanchez’s reverbed, lazy vocals.
Throughout L.A. Witch’s set, it was difficult at times to hear Sanchez’s vocals, which she apologized later to the crowd for sound issues. Instrument-wise, I honestly couldn’t tell any sound issues from where I was standing. Other than that, songs such as “Untitled” and “Drive Your Car” with harmonies from Pai sounded great. You can really tell from watching L.A. Witch that their rhythm section is highly emphasized in their songs, which gives them a darker feel.
However, there was some awkwardness within the band after “Drive Your Car” from what I could see in regards to the sound issues that they were experiencing onstage. It seemed to me like they were trying to work through their tour kick-off jitters more than anything, because a couple of the songs at the end of their set (“Good Guys” with the awesome buildup with Sanchez’ guitar in the middle of the song; and the last song of their set “Get Lost,” from their three-song single released in June of this year) had the perfect mid-tempo song to end the night.
Death Valley Girls were missed last night, and the sentiment was also shared with L.A. Witch as well with Sanchez relaying their message to the crowd: “They wanted us to tell you that they are very, very sorry.” I would have liked to see Death Valley Girls, but it wasn’t meant to be on this Sunday night. Hopefully, they got their van fixed and are back out on the road to their next tour stop. Like L.A. Witch, they live in L.A., so they’ll be back again in Phoenix sometime in the future. Other than that, it was nice to finally have an opportunity to check out L.A. Witch. They played in Phoenix earlier this year, but I was unable to make that show. I’m looking forward to whenever they release more material, and play again in Phoenix. As always, it was nice to see French Girls play. The show was the perfect jolt to start my week.