Calamity tends to function as a crucible for young bands on the rise, and a small dose of it greeted Summer Cannibals at the Wonder Ballroom on Friday. Besides issues with leader Jessica Boudreaux's uncooperative guitar strap, the two biggest mishaps of the night were due to the Snowpocalypse. Attendance for the group's largest headlining show to date was somewhat disappointing, with only about one-third of the venue occupied, and bassist Jenny Logan was benched due to an ice-related injury.
In spite of all this, Summer Cannibals made a compelling case for how their unique combination of blunt-force instrumental attack and bittersweet melodies has gained so much regional traction. Opening with "Something New" and "Full of It" set the tone for an hour of fuzzy power-pop that quickly overcame their lack of personnel (Harrison Rapp of Divers filled in seamlessly for Logan). By the time they tore into the first chorus of "Make Up," the standout of last year's Full Of It, it became abundantly clear that Boudreaux's vocal attack is the group's most powerful weapon. Alternating between a saccharine croon a la Metric's Emily Haynes to the anguished howling of Courtney Love, Boudreaux displayed a level of maturity and showmanship younger, less accomplished groups often hide under layers of guitars and feedback. Hell, even known veterans like Silversun Pickups struggle to make the collision of super-loud guitars and dynamic vocals work in a live setting.
The set lagged at times, notably throughout plodding mid-tempo cuts from No Makeup like "Hey/I Was Saved" and "Wear Me Out." But the raw energy and excitement with which Summer Cannibals played their latest material proved their viability as a solid 30-minute opener or festival act. With yet another batch of songs being worked out in the studio at the moment, it's obvious that Boudreaux is shooting for the moon. If anyone left this show in doubt of whether or not she has a shot at making it in L.A. in the coming year, they must not have been paying very much attention.
All photos by Henry Cromett.