Bringing its hard rock to the Bay Area, Dead Sara killed its show at Slim’s in a high-energy grunge performance. As part of its fall tour for Temporary Things Take Up Space, the newest release from the LA trio, the band played many of its hits, new and old, to the rowdy crowd.
The band consists of lead singer and rhythm guitarist Emily Armstrong, drummer Sean Friday and lead guitarist Siouxsie Medley, who sported a 49ers shirt for the occasion. Refreshingly, both of the guitarists in this band are powerhouse women — an inspiring sight for female musicians looking for more representation on stage.
During “Lemon Scent,” Armstrong took on the essence of a young Kurt Cobain, staring into the crowd as if taking someone’s soul. The fast, jazzy bass lines contrasted with the grungy tone in the vocals. Armstrong’s hair whipped fervently as she played her guitar, covering her face in a flurry of blonde locks.
Armstrong tried to get the crowd to sing back the lyrics to “Mona Lisa,” but her attempt was met by a sad effort from the shy audience who didn’t know all the words. This prompted a cool reaction on the part of Armstrong, who shrugged it off and continued the song anyway. Her hard frontwoman sensuality was conveyed most strongly during this song, as she aggressively dragged her hands over her body while she sang.
As “Face To Face” played, an orange light backlit the band in a halo of warmth. The Americana vibes were strong as the audience moved with the band, singing the lyrics back. Armstrong called this show “bittersweet,” as it is nearing the last date on their tour for Temporary Things Take Up Space.
The hardest tune the band played was “Blue Was The Beautiful You,” in which Medley led the song with strong and bluesy guitar licks. Armstrong stomped back and forth between her mic stand and the drum kit at the back of the stage, cymbals hitting heavy. The song ended in an explosion of dramatic lights and crashing drums.
Some of the songs performed took on a more 80s, electronic sound, bringing the show in a different direction. Medley’s skilled guitar playing laid down blues tones amongst hard breakdowns as Armstrong sang through her pink-tinted hair.
The last time Dead Sara played in San Francisco, it was housed at the DNA Lounge in the South Market district. When fans shouted their memories of the show, Armstrong said, “It’s almost like we share the same DNA,” and after a small crowd silence, she said, “Didn’t get that joke? Fuck you,” with a laugh.
At this show, the singer talked about how the band had been on the road for roughly five weeks, and she was looking forward to going on a hike and sleeping for two days when she gets home.
Off of the new album, “Heaven’s Got A Back Door” got off to a false start — the band backtracked with a laugh, restarting the song after the slight hiccup. Reintroducing the number by saying, “This is a Dead Sara song,” the members thrashed in sync to the beat.
In order to set the mood for the show, Armstrong called the day “Saturday night,” throughout the show even though it was Thursday. Not wanting the night to end, she said, “Convince me to stay here” to the Slim’s crowd. As the next song started, she said, “I wanna lick all of your faces.”
The final performance of “Weatherman” contained the perfect fusion of traditionally feminine and masculine energy — Armstrong owns her sensuality with her stage presence, but her aggression gave her show a gritty edge that defied those stereotypes.
To close the show, the band gave an impromptu performance of “Amazing Grace.” Armstrong slowly lifted a middle finger to the crowd before jumping viciously back into the chorus of “Weatherman,” walking down into the crowd as the song came to an end.
The band walked off stage to the sound of “Sabotage” by Beastie Boys, one of the most iconic exit songs you could possibly choose. The band may be called Dead Sara, but the raw energy and destructive sound was anything but lifeless.