Suuns, Photos by Carl Fung

The mystery of the appropriate pronunciation of the name of Montreal’s Suuns appeared to be solved last night at the Brooklyn Vegan showcase at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg. “We’re Suuns,” lead singer and guitarist Ben Shemie said, pronouncing it “soons.” But then he followed it with “or Suuns,” as in “suns.” So, the name confusion continues, but the quartet clearly has its sound settled. The guys play dark and driving instrumentals, sparingly interrupted by Shemie’s pinched whisper of a voice. The band members crafted a floor-vibrating, haunting groove like few others, but the constant focus on the atmospheric got boring. They could stand to throw some more three-part vocal harmonies, which they used only in the last song, into the rest of their set.

If Suuns left you wanting for vocals, Screaming Females were ready to supply. The band is a trio, but lead singer Marissa Paternoster is the one you need to know. The petite vocalist has a meek speaking voice—it sounded like a small child had snagged the mic when she informed the crowd that the band came from New Jersey—but she wails as a singer. Depending on how hard she forced her alto, her voice either shook like Grace Slick’s or the mayor of Munchkinland. Paternoster’s vocal got the crowd’s attention, but it was her furious guitar playing that made jaws drop, as her fingers crawled all over the fret board. Never has a person shredded so hard in a Peter Pan collar.

The Blow

The audience members were all a-chatter after this fiercely rocking display. But the Blow’s Khaela Maricich silenced the house when she walked on stage as a solo performer and started singing a cappella, quoting lines from Eagles’ “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” while keeping time on the mic. Maricich has a reputation for giving kooky performances, and she lived up to the hype. Maricich went slinking around the stage in spandex, dangerously high heels and an oversized shirt, singing in a voice so wonderfully smooth and pure pop that she could have been an Ace Of Base extra. Her set list included favorites like “Parentheses,” “Hey Boy,” “Come On Petunia” and a flat rendition of “True Affection.” But Maricich entertained the audience with more than just songs, sharing tales about having lunch with Lindsay Lohan and trying on her shoes, musings on dance moves and comments like “You know how every popstar is just balancing on top of a pyramid of gay men.” Maricich never neglected her music, which was propelled by prerecorded electronic beats, but her delivery was like a well-timed comic routine.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

closed the evening, and though this group might have been the night’s headliners, Maricich stole the night.