The Black Belles @ The End (Concert Review)

When it comes to The Black Belles, don't let the make-up and heels fool you. This all-girl garage goth foursome mean serious musical business and they came to play. Sure, the spooky aesthetics, black outfits and campy vibe are intentional, but underneath the tongue in cheek exterior are four fierce ladies that can really play their instruments and can command a crowd's attention. Both characteristics were clearly evident last night during their super fun show at The End. Their demure countenance and soft-spoken between song banter quickly gave way to an explosive musical performance that was equal parts mighty, melodic and macabre. Using fuzzed out guitars, bubbling bass lines, ghoulish organ stabs and pounding drums, The Black Belles conjure up creepy, garage rock, surf-tinged singalongs that harken back to the days of Lily Munster, Annette Funicello and Elvira. But make no mistake about it. Lurking beneath the retro-freaky facade are some really good songs and a thirst for a good time. The Black Belles poured out both to an eager audience at The End and I think the enthusiastic response might've even elicited a black-ringed smile or two from underneath those spooky black hats.

Playing mostly songs from their self-titled debut release, The Black Belles tore through their fantastic set with a compelling stage presence, tight musicianship and a surprisingly powerful backbeat. Head Belle Olivia Jean sang and played like a woman scorned and each lyric was barked out over greasy guitar riffs and catchy lead lines. Tina NoGood provided some perfect haunted church organ and Ruby Rogers kept the bass low and groovy. The secret weapon of The Black Belles is behind the drum kit though. Deceptively small Shelby Lynne played as loud and as powerful as any drummer I've ever seen and she propelled the band into each playful groove they played. The standouts moments in the set were definitely the singalong vocals of "What Can I Do?" and "Hey Velda," the walking dead bass line of "Wishing Well," the organ intro of "Honkey Tonk Horror," the deranged carnival drums of "Leave You With A Letter" and my absolute favorite overall song of the night, "The Wrong Door." They even played a couple of awesome new songs that haven't been released yet, including the galloping "Cuddly Toy" and the funky "Ms. Black Boots," which is slated to be the B-side of their next single. The Black Belles sounded great all night and they seemed to have a good time dancing and bobbing up and down while they played. The crowd was dancing and singing along as well, so a great time was had by everyone there. The Black Belles still have some shows left on their current tour and if you check them out, you're guaranteed a night of great music and ominously fun times. Also, you can still pick up their debut full length, The Black Belles, or their "Honkey Tonk Horror" 7" single from the Third Man Records store HERE.

Remaining Tour Shows:
2/9 Durham NC @ The Pinhook*
2/10 Harrisonburg VA @ James Madison University*
2/11 Brooklyn NY @ Knitting Factory*
2/13 Cleveland OH @ Beachland Ballroom*
2/15 Chicago IL @ Empty Bottle*
2/16 Farmington MO @ The Vault
3/18 Houston TX @ Warehouse Live^
3/19 Laredo TX @ Old No. 2^
3/20 Dallas TX @ La Grange
3/21 Hot Springs AR @ Valley of Vapors Festival

* w/ Bleached
^ w/ Strange Boys

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