New Brunswick’s Screaming Females have long held a reputation for their stellar live shows, so it’s a wonder this album hasn’t been made earlier. With numerous tours and five consistently solid albums behind them, the band handcrafted a set of songs from their most recent studio album, Ugly (“It All Means Nothing” and “Extinction”), and peppered in some of their greatest moments from previous albums (“A New Kid” from Castle Talk and “Baby Jesus” from their first album, Baby Teeth).
Recorded over two nights at the Hideout in Chicago, the album was originally planned to be recorded at Maxwell’s before the venue’s untimely closing, but the closeness and intensity of the recording offers little if any clue of a difference. Live At The Hideout feels like a set put together specifically for the purpose of this album, but it’s also nothing out of the ordinary from a typical Screamales show.
There are plenty of moments for those who just want to hear the unparalleled shredding of singer/guitarist Marissa Paternoster, but the intimacy of “Little Anne” shows off the underrated beauty and emotion hiding beneath it all. The electric buzz in the air from its quiet restraint is palpable, and the energy felt by the audience and the band is so strong, it easily will leave you feeling like you’re actually stumbling red-eyed and exhausted out of the venue late at night after it’s all over, breathless and maybe even a little teary eyed.
If released under exactly the right circumstances, a live album can become in itself a generational landmark or a unified statement for a specific group, and although only time will tell, something feels undeniably special about this album, as if the stars have perfectly aligned themselves. Live At The Hideout proves that Screaming Females are not only one of the greatest touring bands around, they’re one of the greatest bands period.
In A Word: Special