Perfect Pussy and Waxahatchee at Doug Fir Lounge

Vortex Music Magazine

Don't get caught up on the names—just be at the Doug Fir for an an all-ages early show starting at 4:30pm on May 24.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: the name.

In all honesty, we have to. Every time I mention the sonic avalanche that comes from Meredith Graves and co.—the thrashing guitars, the mashing drums, the noise!—all of my adoration falls on muffled ears because everyone gets hung up on the name.

Perfect Pussy? Wow, that’s intense.”

Yeah, it’s intense, but they’re an intense band!

The Syracuse hardcore outfit’s debut album, Say Yes to Love, is eight heart-racing tracks so noisy, so distraught that upon first listen you’re tempted to turn down the volume. But the moment you reach for the dial, you can’t do it—you can’t follow through.

Produced with the aesthetic of a cassette tape and packed full of lyrics like “I want to fuck myself, I want to eat myself,” and “‘cause you think I'm God in human form / you've never met anyone like me before,” you immediately understand that you’re hearing a primal force unlike much of anything that’s out there, yet you can’t quite fully grasp what exactly it is—how can you?

The lyrics shouted by Graves are essentially incomprehensible, but therein lies the rub. Much like Deafheaven’s stand-out record Sunbather in 2013, Perfect Pussy’s Say Yes to Love pushes boundaries by melding the genres of punk and noise, all while maintaining, deep down, a glimmer of approachability.

On the heels of their fantastic debut and an incredibly well-received set at SXSW (above), Perfect Pussy were set to play Slabtown in NW Portland on March 22 until they canceled the morning of the show. To be perfectly honest, this was one of my most anticipated shows of 2014 at that point, and it was going to take place at the personification of a dingy punk rock venue—and then, just like that, it was canceled. Waves of disappointment swept over me. That was until I saw that Perfect Pussy would be returning to Portland, only this time they would be at the Doug Fir Lounge—one of the most sonically hospitable venue in town—on May 24. It’s not going to be the easiest of shows, but it sure might be one of the best.

But about the name, I forgot to address it—but that’s the point. It takes a certain amount of starkness, boldness and pure shock value in the music itself to make you forget about a name like Perfect Pussy. But with Say Yes to Love, Meredith Graves and Perfect Pussy have done it because the name becomes secondary once you’ve experienced the band. I invite you to come see them achieve it in person at an early, all-ages show on a Saturday, nonetheless, and opening for Waxahatchee.

Birmingham native Waxahatchee is an enigma on her label Don Giovanni Records. The New Jersey-based label specializes in punk and notable labelmates include the Screaming Females (an indie punk band), Priests (a punk outfit from D.C.), and California X (a punk band that, despite its name, is actually from Amherst, Mass.). In fact, most of the label is punk rock, but Waxahatchee is not—well, at least not in the same sense as the others. Waxahatchee is more often characterized as an indie folk singer.

Born Katie Crutchfield, Waxahatchee, along with her twin sister Allison, grew up in Birmingham’s underground punk scene playing in the pop punk band P.S. Eliot. This background infiltrates Crutchfield’s sound, turning her indie folk music into something that resembles Liz Phair or The Breeders. When you listen to her music, you no longer question her placement alongside some of the current members of the indie punk movement. Waxahatchee may be indie folk, but she rocks in her own special way.

On Saturday, May 24, Waxahatchee will also serve as a nice chaser to the hyperkinetic hardcore stylings of Perfect Pussy. It’ll be a moment to sit back and enjoy a talented songwriter at her best.

You can also catch Waxahatchee if you’re headed to the Gorge this weekend for Sasquatch. She'll be playing the Yeti stage from 7:55-8:55pm on Sunday, May 25.

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