The Bitter End is a legendary rock club in NYC. Performers who have played there have gone on to shape the rock landscape. Some of those performers have been: Joan Armatrading; Joan Baez; Harry Chapin; Tracy Chapman; Jim Croce; Neil Diamond; Bo Diddley; Dion; Bob Dylan; Janis Ian; Billy Joel; Don McLean; Joni Mitchell; Van Morrison; Maria Muldaur; Peter,Paul,& Mary; Billy Preston; Helen Reddy; Linda Ronstadt; John Sebastian; Pete Seeger; Carly Simon; Patti Smith; Stevie Wonder; and Neil Young.
I can only wonder what it must have been like to be in the audience with some of those then-unknown artists and to witness a performance that you know is history in the making; that you are seeing The Next Big Thing before anyone else; that you have lucked upon something Everyone Will Be Talking About.
Well, let me correct the beginning of that paragraph: I used to wonder.
Because last night I did indeed witness an act of history in the making. I watched a group of five extremely-talented young women finally take to the launch pad that will put them into rock orbit.
And I mean, of course, Girls Don’t Cry.
I have raved about them in the past. But forget all that. What they did Wednesday night made every other performance of theirs seem like weak rehearsals.
They didn’t simply outdo themselves, they finally came into themselves. No longer were they just playing music — they were the music.
They were exceptional, they were extraordinary, they were magnificent. They became what I knew they could become the first time one of their songs stuck in my head after just one listening on the Joey Reynolds Show — and mind you, I was hearing that song on an AM station and on a dinky pocket radio — they became rock goddesses to be reckoned with.
From the opening notes of their first song — the eponymous Girls Don’t Cry — I could feel that Everything Was Different. It was a blast of sound that sent chills down my spine and raised bumps on my flesh.
And that sensation persisted through the entire set of their nine songs.
But then they went and surprised me even further. After their set, they did a cover of a song from the 1980s (one I’d never heard before and the name of which I wasn’t able to get) that just made me fall in love with all of them even more.
Sora put down her guitar, picked up the mic, and did the vocal, strutting across the stage and into the audience, leaving a path of fire in her wake. Rachael — who has always done nothing but her lovely keyboards — did lead guitar! Hannah — who usually alternates with Sora on lead guitar — picked up the smallest accordion I’ve ever seen in my life! Caitlin and Liz maintained their positions on, respectively, bass guitar and drums.
And did they play!
There they were, basically telling everybody: Look at us! We’re not just the set we always play. We can really really play.
And they did!
Wednesday night everyone in that audience knew they were witnessing history. After the show I saw people rushing up to Producers/Co-Writers Richard Berg and Harold Stephan; they just had to tell them how good the Girls had been. I got to see this because I was the first in line to tell them! Then I stuck around to be nosy!
The Girls have reached this new level thanks to a new Manager they’ve gotten, Ross Eliot. In the past, the Girls would get together simply to rehearse for an upcoming gig. Ross changed that by making them really rehearse the music itself. Ten hours a day since the start of this month. And in just that time, the results have been startling. They haven’t done something as prosaic as growing: they have been reborn. They have undergone a metamorphosis and there is no returning to their past incarnation.
Wednesday night their music was tight, sharp, crisp, dynamic, and moving. They proved that they have that elusive and very special thing called a Sound. It is theirs and they will go on to influence other rock bands and to inspire young musicians who are lucky enough to hear their work. Little girls plunking away at guitars, tapping on keyboards, and bashing drums will suddenly have a light go on inside them upon hearing the Girls and they will all think, “Wow! That’s it! That’s the kind of stuff I want to do. I want to be just like them!” Bands will be formed that will cover their songs. (I can hear the arguments and discussions: “No, Liz wouldn’t do it that way.” “Caitlin does it like this.” “Your hair looks just like Sora’s!” “You’re dressed just like Hannah!” “This is the same keyboard Rachael uses!”)
And now they have their own website domain too! girlsdontcry.com has just started up, is still undergoing teething pains, but it will be the main site for the band. And they will also be bringing out merchandise!
They already have a new demo CD that can be purchased at their live performances. And, damn, what a CD! It has all nine of their songs and it’s just explosive. Anyone who wants to experience the chills I had Wednesday night can do so by getting their CD. I hope it’ll be for sale soon on their site. As I’ve said in the past, there have been almost no groups that have put out an album I can listen to completely. The Girls have done so. Each song clings to me, sticks in my head. The morning after their Bryant Park show, I woke up humming What Do You Think Of Me Now, a song only available at their live shows until this new CD.
The Girls are going to be huge. I’m going to wind up doing something I never do: watch the Grammys, just to see them win win win. I’m so very happy for them.
Full Disclosure: I paid my way into the show; I was not comped at all. I was, however, after the show given a copy of their latest CD for free. I had expected it to be a private-issue demo, though, not a for-sale CD. The fact I got it for free does not influence my opinion of it nor of the Girls. I have no connection to the band other than as someone who was lucky enough to come upon them early in their local tour. I also have no connection to the band’s management nor any financial stake in their colossal future. I just want more more more of their wonderful music.
What follows are a few photos from the historic night. I had to beg for some since this time I didn’t have a camera with me. I wanted some images from this special night! I’m indebted to someone Sora knows, whose name I didn’t get and will, if required, add later. Thank you very, very much!
Hannah singing As We Go On
Liz at her drums
Rachael at her keyboards and Caitlin in back, bass guitar
Sora behind her trademark hair — with a microphone hogging the action!