Hair Band Moments

The Donnas
The Glass House
Saturday, Sept. 15

It's damn near impossible to find a flag these days. I know because I've watched my roommate sit on the phone for hours trying to locate a store that isn't sold out. Unable to turn a blind eye to her frustrated patriotism, I suggested that in lieu of a real flag, she just fly a pair of American Flag boxers out her window. But it's not as if she has a pair of those lying around (or so she claims). Then I suggested she paint her nails red, white and blue. She went for it, resulting in a little something I like to call “clowny hands.” Unfortunately, when she tries to give someone the finger (perhaps for, say, calling her “clowny hands”), they just start laughing. It's not all clowny hands and ridicule, though; an eight-year-old asked her if she was a rock star.

But that's all beside the point. The point is that it's impossible to find a flag unless you're the Donnas, whose stage show at the Glass House on Saturday was simply bursting with flags, if by bursting you mean four. There was a big-ass flag affixed to the curtain behind the bass player. There was a flag stuffed into the drummer's drum set, and there were another two flags stuck to the guitarist's amp head. Singer Brett Anderson, a.k.a. Donna A (note to self: Or should it be vice versa?), was flagless, unless one of the flags on the amp belonged to her. Is that how it works? Is it like one flag per person? Because I'll have you know that if you're hoarding flags, I think Clowny Hands would like to have a word with you.

“Hey, we just wanted to take a second to say we're really sorry about all the tragedies that have been happening, and if you have anything to donate, we have a Red Cross box next to our merch table,” said the singer before going into “Rock & Roll Machine.”

The Donnas, who played a few songs from their new album, The Donnas Turn 21, but spent more time on songs from their previous albums Get Skintight and American Teenage Rock 'N' Roll Machine, have come a long way. There was a time when they all wore matching T-shirts and barely moved around onstage. Now they all wear different clothes and move around a lot! And the guitarist, bass player and drummer all whip their hair around really well in this way that might be an unconscious nod to hair metal bands. Or maybe it's conscious; they talk openly of their love for Poison and Kiss and Mtley Cre.

Other hair band moments? The guitar player's constant pouty snarl and the way the bass player would ask the audience in this odd squealing voice, “Can you feel it? Yeahhhh?” and then make this weird yelping noise. It didn't go over too well. The audience looked kind of confused or uncomfortable, and the band themselves seemed to wish they could get back to having the singer, the elected spokesperson for the band, do all the talking. It wasn't a big deal, though, just a few split seconds of awkwardness. As for the guitarist's pout, she can do whatever the hell she wants because she's one of the best female guitar players I've seen; she effortlessly shreds™ and rips ™.

Not that the assholes in the pit would have noticed. Before we went into the club, the owner said to me, “Hey, be careful in there.” I thought he was kidding. I had no idea I was moments away from almost taking an adolescent elbow in the side. It was like watching a bunch of human ninja throwing stars. To come within six feet of one of them would be to take your life in your hands. The scary thing is that you wouldn't know ahead of time what your downfall would be. It could be an elbow. It could be a foot. It could be a knee. It could be a fist. You wouldn't see it until it happened. All you'd see is a blur of limbs and some sort of funky streetwear. Oh, the terror!

“Hey, if you include me in this story, can my name be Lola?” asked my friend, uh, Lola, as we stood in the back of the club in an effort to both watch the guitar player and avoid the pitting buttmunches. Pretty soon, a few more friends reinvented themselves (including Clowny Hands), and before long, I was hanging out with Lola, Jonzy and Preston, concert veterans one and all.

When the Donnas played their last song and walked offstage and the lights didn't come up, we knew they weren't really finished. Before long, the bass player and drummer took the stage again and began playing this funky cowbell-drenched jam thing. I like a smidge of funk from time to time, I must say.

“This song's called '40 Boys in 40 Nights,'” the singer announced. Then Lola, Jonzy, Preston and I began talking about our own touring ratios, none of which has been quite so, well, robust. Go, Donnas, with the robust tour ratios! Now give a flag to Clowny Hands.

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