I’m going to be giving away a bit more about my age than I’d like here, but the last time I saw She Wants Revenge live was in 2006 at a venue in Montreal called the Spectrum. Depending on your age, you’re reading that and thinking either “never heard of it” or “haven’t heard that name in ages!” Either way, I remember that show fondly. She Wants Revenge was riding high on their 2005 self-titled record. After that, they sort of dropped off my radar a little bit, but I was glad to see their still around, still making (some) music and playing shows. It was pretty cool to see them again, this time at Theatre Fairmount along with The Guidance and MXMS.
The Guidance is the Electro Pop project of Stefan Pruett and, quite frankly, one of the most exciting and bizarre live sets I’ve ever seen. Backed by a drummer who unfortunately I didn’t get the name of, the set began with Stefan walking out from behind the stage and dancing around the crowd, where he would stay most of the set as he sang, danced and got the crowd pumped. Oh, and did I mention he wore a ski mask the entire time? I’ll be honest, the music he played is not even close to being in my wheelhouse, but the beats were fun, and Stefan’s got a strangely soothing voice that somehow works with his sporadic personality as he whipped around the venue, jumped up and down and interacted with the crowd.
Next up was MXMS from Los Angeles. I dug into some of MXMS’ discography on the morning of the show. I started by listening to their latest EP, Funeral Pop I, and I was blown away. This dark-pop duo creates some beautifully chaotic music. Imagine if Mazzy Star clashed with Garbage, Chelsea Wolfe and Nine Inch Nails and you might have a small idea of what they sound like. I enjoyed that EP, but were they going to be as good live? The short answer is fucking YES.
On record, MXMS is a duo – Ariel Levitan on haunting vocals and Jeremy Dawson on keyboards and guitar. They add a drummer to their live shows, who happens to be the same guy drumming for The Guidance. As the lights dimmed and light illuminated vocalist Ariel, they launched into tracks like “Gravedigger,” Salvation Hurts” and “Paris” with very little crowd banter in between songs. All business for these guys and I appreciated that. They set a perfect mood with their dark blend of goth pop, and I really enjoyed them. Unfortunately (warning: rant coming up), there was a portion of the crowd that totally fucking sucked during their set. I am amazed at people who come to shows and show no respect to a band by talking loudly and laughing during their set. It was especially audible during some of the quieter moments. Thankfully, MXMS pushed through and continued to play to the people in the crowd that were actually there to enjoy music.
Finally, at nearly 11:00, She Wants Revenge finally hit the stage. Opening with the track “Take The World,” everyone in the crowd was instantly dancing and grooving to the music. After all, how could you resist the soothingly robotic voice of Justin Warfield as Adam Bravin and their touring drummer and guitarist played through SWR songs like “Big Love,” “Written in Blood” and of course, major staples in their discography like “Tear You Apart” and “Out of Control.” For a band that hasn’t released a full-length record since 2011, they have a lot of great material to sift through, and not a single song is a dud. Unfortunately, because of the late start time and my having to start work at 6:00 am the next day, I had to leave in the middle of their set, which was a major bummer.
It’s clear to me that 15 years of touring and writing has done little to destroy the magic behind She Wants Revenge. These guys still have it. They create beautifully moody music and bring an almost sensual vibe to their shows. But, if I’m being perfectly honest, I walked away mostly thinking of MXMS. They were just so great and more in-line with the kind of music that I prefer, and they captivated me a little bit more than She Wants Revenge. Either way, it was a great show, and this is a great tour that you should definitely check out, should it roll into your town.
Written by Dominic Abate
Photography by Amanda Hiscock
*edited by Mike Milito