There was a lot of rocking girly action going on late in the evening at the Neuhoff Factory Party Stage on Saturday. The Black Belles, Those Darlins and JEFF the Brotherhood were among those who closed the night, and SoundLand, with three killer sets on a secluded hill near 1st.
After seeing this dark quartet play, November seems like a long time to wait for The Black Belles’ self-titled debut, though we were repeatedly reminded that we could purchase their 7” in the “big yellow truck” from Third Man Records parked near the stage. These gothy fledglings, who’ve been taken under Jack White’s wing, are like four Elviras covering The White Stripes – they’ve got the same gritty guitar and spare thunderous drums of the late duo, adding in their own foreboding bass and vampire-ish keys.
Those Darlins know how to get an audience high – using some combination of white-trashed-out cowpunk, bits of ’60s and ’80s pop, backwoods vocal twang, imperfectly skilled musicianship, a genuine interest in the audience, and miles and miles of enthusiasm. In a flashy gold sequined one-piece, kinda-frontlady Jessi Darlin (all three ladies and gent share vocals) tramped around the stage, abusing her guitar and staring wide-eyed into the faces of the crowd in the entrancing “Mystic Mind” from Screws Get Loose. The set included the title track as well as others from their sophomore record like “Waste Away,” “Fatty Needs A Fix” and “Be Your Bro.”
The catching favorite “Red Light Love” from their debut weaseled in also, along with a revving new song “Burn Me Up” and some sexy “Shakin” delivered by Nikki. Two free 7”s made their way into fans’ hands that night; one made an aerial landing from Jessi’s hand into the crowd, and the other, she announced, would be given to whomever acted the craziest through the following song (it turned out to be a guy dancing on the shoulders of his buddy with arms outstretched). All were down-to-earth, charismatic and incredibly into their performance.
When JEFF went on to wrap up the night, the usual pushing, shoving, stage diving and beer sloshing ensued among the typical assortment of JEFF fans – a delightfully diverse mix of hipsters, bros and older, average dudes. It could have a lot to do with the atmosphere, but there just isn’t a bad JEFF song. They pulled from Heavy Days and We Are The Champions – neither record has become worn – and whipped out a prolonged new number that featured an awesome drum solo from Jamin. Part Two happened at the after party. – Jessica Pace