Live - The Donnas Rock LA





Close to five years ago, I often read endless indie paper ink about an all-girl teenage band who sorta sounded like The Ramones. Soon after, I stumbled into their 45 rpm record at a small Detroilet shop. Sure enough, snotty-but-sassy girls on the sleeve with a song called "Rock 'n' Roll Machine." The B-side was a cover from a KISS solo album. "Holy moly... it can't get any better than this," I thought. Since my first encounter, The Donnas have put out three more albums, toured the world a few times and now make the leap to the major label stage.


With their new album Spend The Night having been released the day before, the ladies seemed to have something to prove in front of an adoring LA crowd; undoubtedly, with many of the suits from their new label, Atlantic, in attendance, they wanted to show that they are the real deal. Seeing as it was only the second night of their headlining tour, I'd say they succeeded.

First off, lemme say that I'm still on the fence with their big label debut. I have sonic issues, but nothing a few dozen more listens can't handle. That said, in a live setting, this band is better than ever and can go toe-to-toe with just about anyone. Playing at the legendary Roxy, Motley Crue-circa-'83 could have played on the bill and nobody would have been any the wiser as to what year it actually was. I'll start with guitarist Donna R, whose sound and playing has fully morphed into a combination of Angus Young and Ace Frehley. Her stage presence evokes Joan Jett from her "Bad Reputation" days. She's become a monster player, never once straying from the fat sound of her Les Paul. It's her development as a guitarist that has raised the bar and shaped the sound of the band. Drummer Donna C is a riot (that's meant as a compliment). Pig tails flying in every direction while her arms roll through fills and never miss a beat. Tommy Lee and Gina Schock would be proud. Donna F isn't as chatty as she used to be on stage; this go-round the bass player stuck to the beat and held down the bottom just fine. Singer Donna A has only improved with each tour. When I first saw The Donnas open for L7, she was shy and relied on banter she thought sounded cool. She is now completely in charge of the stage and leads their rock charge with the confidence of someone whose been touring for almost 10 years. Punchy, aggressive, to the point, confident and, yes, sassy - these gals have all of the pieces in place that they've spent their awkward years honing down. Part of their appeal has been their slight lack of professionalism (without sacrificing integrity and their sense of fun). I'm sure to some of their longtime, alter-native fans, this newfound professionalism is a problem because they?ve officially left their roots in the past. However, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone complaining about it at this show.

Nine of the night's 16 songs were from the new album. Despite my production issues with Spend The Night, liv, the material played out very well. The punk sound is a distant memory replaced with a crunch that vintage AC/DC would approve of and KISS wished they could still create. All in all, The Donnas have become the American Rock n' Roll Machines they once sang about. Gone were any catchy short numbers from early on in their career ("Let's Go Mano!" being a glaring omission); in were songs from only the past three albums. They've made the leap from somewhat-secure indie darlings to fully competing for the attention of the kids who are now over Britney or freaked out by Christina, and need some crunch without being too weirded out in the process. The Donnas accomplish that, with trademark snappy lyrics in abundance and in your face rawk for the geezers in the crowd who actually knew that it was C.C. DeVille that helped introduce them to the stage this night.

Setlist

"Are You Gonna Move It For Me"

"Do You Wanna Hit It"

"It's On The Rocks"

"You Wanna Get Me High"

"Hyperactive"

"Too Bad About Your Girl"

"Take Me To The Backseat"

"You've Got A Crush On Me"

"I Don't Care (So There)"

"Not The One"

"Midnight Snack"

"I Didn't Like You Anyway"

"Take It Off"

"5 O'Clock In The Morning"

--- Encore -----

"Who Invited You"

"Skintight"


Source: Matt Surrena, Guest Reviewer

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Live - The Donnas Rock LA