Friday, July 31, 2015

Veruca Salt at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Based in Chicago, Illinois, guitarists/vocalists Louise Post and Nina Gordon were introduced to each other in 1991 and became fast friends. They wrote songs for a year and a half before being joined by Gordon's brother, Jim Shapiro, on drums and Steve Lack on bass. By 1993, they were Veruca Salt, named the spoiled rich girl from the children's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Despite worldwide success, the original musicians started dropping out acrimoniously until Post became the only original member by 1998. Popularity faded and Veruca Salt largely went dormant by 2007, although Post did not announce a hiatus officially until 2012. That same year, Post and Gordon met and sang together for the first time in 14 years. They contacted Shapiro and Lack, and the original band reunited in 2013. Veruca Salt's fifth album, Ghost Notes, released on July 10, 2015, is the first to feature the band's original lineup since 1997's Eight Arms to Hold You.

At Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom tonight, Veruca Salt seemed to pick up where it left off almost 20 years ago, with perhaps even more enthusiasm than in its first life. Featuring a hefty eight new songs interspersed between 13 songs from the 1990s, Veruca Salt maximized use of its dual-female vocals throughout the set. Sometimes Post and Gordon alternated lead vocals, often they sang in harmony, all the while driving a guitar-led sonic aggression with melodic pop hooks. Halfway through the set, the musicians stopped for an a cappella version of "One Last Time," with the audience ending up shouting the refrain, but then the post-grunge rocking continued with "Volcano Girls," never to soften again. The music landscape has evolved considerably since Post and Gordon began working together nearly 25 years ago, but apparently riot grrls still rule.

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