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All At Once - Screaming Females

Updated: Jan 2, 2019

As seen, felt, and heard live in Gainesville, Florida.

Written by Ida V. Eskamani

There is a certain special energy when you enter a sacred space. My dear friend David and I had arrived at a music venue in Gainesville, Florida during the conclusion of the first set on a late Tuesday evening. We had driven nearly two hours from Orlando to see a show. I had anticipated this trip for weeks, absolutely enamored with headliners and legends Screaming Females. Their newest record All At Once had been on constant rotation in my mind since its release in February. My partner in the pit, on the other hand, knew nothing of any of the bands taking the stage. Though they served as my stomping grounds for years, a punk show is not David’s typical scene. Yet in his ever-inspiring spontaneity, he joined me for the ride.


We scanned our tickets, flashed our ID’s, and entered the venue. Standard procedures, yet once within those walls there was a clear sense of community paired with a keen awareness of privilege. Openers Night Witch, HIRS, and Thou were authentic and unapologetic, sharing their art in its purest form while cultivating a safer space and a cathartic release for all in attendance. People of color, trans* lives, survivors of sexual assault, and persons with disabilities were made priority by those sharing the stage; reminding all in attendance that when the most oppressed are liberated, we all are liberated.


David, myself, and so many incredible people we know do social justice work. Therefore, he did not need to know the bands playing to understand the magic we were witnessing. These are the spaces we strive to create, and yearn to find. These are the spaces that build movements. My heart felt full, however I would expect nothing less from a tour headlined by Screaming Females.


A three piece rock band from New Jersey, Marissa Paternoster (guitar, vocals), Mike Abbate (bass), and Jarrett Dougherty (drums) have been writing, recording, and touring together for thirteen years. This band is the epitome of do-it-yourself, booking their own shows, loading their own gear, designing their own art, and creating authentic, wonderfully unapologetic music.

In person, the band members are immensely humble, using their situational power to lift up other artists, causes, and marginalized people. On stage, Screaming Females are resounding and all-consuming. Paternoster’s voice rolls like thunder before lightning strikes in the form of ferocious riffs and urgent rhythms.

All At Once is first and foremost, a testament to the stunning talent of this band. The musical arrangements are astonishingly imaginative, introducing dynamic tempos and various genres not heard before on a Screaming Females record. This record grooves, rocks, jams-- it does it all. Lyrically, there are socially conscience offerings alongside introspective tracks. They may read sad, yet the lyrics are sung with such indisputable strength. Paternoster’s vocals are an instrument all on their own; rich, soulful and with an impressive range that sounds like nothing you have heard before. From start to finish, this release eclipses all expectations.


“Glass House” introduces the record with intensity. The vocals swallow you whole as Paternoster howls “My life in this glass house / Impossible to get out,” describing the power social media holds. Similarly “Black Moon” speaks to the degradation of our planet with decisive energy, “She needs to love me still / Until I've had my fill / I try and try to leave / I want to watch you grieve.” Throughout the record innovative arrangements are introduced. “Dirt” opens with a playful, almost quizzical riff while “Soft Domination” advances with perfect precision on the drums. “End of My Bloodline” hints to reggae rhythms and “Chamber for Sleep” (Part One and Two) hypnotize with psychedelic breakdowns.


In classic Screaming Females style, the record features cathartic choruses designed for live shows, often accompanied by unforgettable guitar solos executed flawlessly by Paternoster. “Agnes Martin,” “Bird in Space,” and the record’s closing track “Step Outside” all cultivate those beautiful moments where you find yourself by losing yourself. “I’ll Make You Sorry” opens with a classic punk bass riff which quickly transitions into the most celebratory of pop-punk. Paternoster exclaims “Am I losing faith in my own anger?” to tenacious riffs. I never thought proclaiming on the top of my lungs “I once was in love before I knew you / But I've given up / I once was in love before you” could feel as triumphant as it did that Tuesday evening.


In person, the band members are immensely humble, using their situational power to lift up other artists, causes, and marginalized people. On stage, Screaming Females are resounding and all-consuming. Paternoster’s voice rolls like thunder before lightning strikes in the form of ferocious riffs and urgent rhythms. Affixed to their amp in giant letters read “GET OFF THE INTERNET,” sound advice in a world inundated with information at the price of privacy. Throughout the show, Paternoster leapt from one side of the stage to the other, executing seismic solos with unbelievable ease; while Abbate held space for the bass and Dougherty dominated the drums.


David and I intentionally lost each other during the Screaming Females set. I’m short and love to be in the thick of the pit; David’s tall, new to the scene and wanted to respect the fans. At 10:32pm I texted him “I’m getting to front but it’s okay if we can’t unite. You are forever in my heart.” At 11:10pm he responded “they are amazing.”


As our sacred space loaded up its gear in preparation for its next tour stop, David and I hit the road, dreading the workday ahead but in absolute awe of what we had experienced. All At Once is a wonderfully overwhelming record. It’s decisive, dynamic, and devastatingly good. This is hardly a surprise coming from Screaming Females, but we feel immense gratitude nonetheless. This band has a formula no one can replicate. They are fiercely independent and inclusive in process and product, and inspire their listeners to adopt the same approach throughout our lives.


They are, as my dear friend David remarked, “amazing.”

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Ida is an Iranian-American from Florida who grew up with the Beatles, and came of age in the pit. She will talk to you about music for as long as you will pretend to listen. She is founder of Bandifesto, a little blog with a big heart.