The Ghost Wolves, The Harms and Tusk, Her perform stellar sets at Empire last week

Empire Control Room and Garage was packed with people and various local vendors, selling products like premium raw chocolates and bone jewelry, last Thursday (May 19) as three female-fronted rock bands assembled–courtesy of Glitter Tribe–each delivering a unique and electrifying set that made the night one to remember.

Tusk, Her Spearheads the show

As one of On Vinyl’s recently recommended bands I was excited to see Tusk, Her perform live after spending hours listening to some of their cuts in my spare time. Like The Harms and The Ghost Wolves, Tusk, Her manages to outshine themselves by putting on a performance that is more enthralling and better sounding live (even though there’s certainly nothing wrong with their studio recordings at all).

As a grungy, dirty-blues, garage rock trio, Amanda K. Salazar (vocals,guitar), Nathan Mellott (drums) and Nick Miller (lead guitar) all contribute to the evocative atmosphere this band exudes in their own special way–something that was evident as they performed their set as they hit the stage at 10 p.m. Thursday night and began thrashing.

Tusk, Her rocks out by opening the Glitter Tribe showcase at Empire.
Tusk, Her rocks out by opening the Glitter Tribe showcase at Empire. (Photo by Jasmine Kim.)

Miller, who shredded with some burning solos from time to time during the band’s set, along with the masked Mellott’s eerie almost occult like hype-yelling that preluded some songs accompanied by his compelling percussion, complimented Salazar’s haunting and vampiric vocals. The product of all this talent: a steamy, lustful sound.

In a short interview OV conducted a while back, Mellott mentioned that Tusk, Her’s music was meant to supply the public with what they hadn’t been hearing, some sexy rock and roll.

The crowd obviously felt this vibe. A couple in front of me swayed and grinded to the track “Monster Love,” enamored by Salazar’s sultry lyrics that reverberated throughout the venue: “You won’t admit that we want each other; I’m not open in that way either–to a monster love!”

Tusk, Her stopped by the On Vinyl photobooth at Empire to show us and local music some love.
Tusk, Her stopped by the On Vinyl photobooth at Empire to show us and local music some love. (Photo by Jasmine Kim.)

Tusk, Her’s excellent set (which included one of my all time favorite tracks by them, “Gianni’s Gun”) showcased the common theme of the night–just how powerful and diverse each frontwoman’s vocals could be. Whether she was wildly howling in true rock fashion on “Monster Love” or keeping things serenely spooky on “Seven Days,” Salazar and company’s performance set the stage for another talented group: The Harms.

The HArms Psych up the Crowd

The Harms mixed things up by adding some surf-vibes and psych to the grunge-garage rock Tusk, Her left audiences with. This trio of female musicians charmingly label their soundcraft as “femme fatale stories.” A great track by The Harm’s “She Turns” helps give weight to their self appointed label.

Made up of Chase Frank (vocals, guitar), Jessica Alexander (drums) and Lynzi Estrada (bass, vocals) this band runs the rock gambit sonically. They can lay down psychedelic grooves, nuance their sound with some soulful jams and shred when they feel like it.

The Harms, like The Ghost Wolves and Tusk, Her rocked out at Empire–but they brought their own unique of vibes to the mix. (Photo by Jasmine Kim.)

In part, this is because unlike Tusk, Her and The Ghost Wolves, The Harms carry  bassist Estrada in tow; allowing them to steer their sound in some more soulful and psych oriented directions.

The indoor stage of Empire, which was already slowly filling up as Tusk, Her opened, packed further as The Harms transitioned into their set. Frank’s voice, which is at once almost operatic in its register and alluring as a siren’s call, brought handfuls of raw emotion to some of the band’s most psychedelic lyrics. “The Pen” a (great) song from their performance, is a nice example of this: “The days are long and the nights are filled with wine. I might be high,” Frank powerfully croons.

Frank displays her powerful voice (Photo Courtesy of Breezy Ritter Photography)
Frank displays her powerful voice (Photo Courtesy of Breezy Ritter Photography)

Alexander, hammering away at her drum kit throughout the performance, helped give Frank’s vocals an extra kick, making the overall sound and power behind her delivery that much more impactful. In particular, the combination of the psych-rock feel and spacey lyrics made cuts like “The Pen” exemplify the rebellious rock side The Harms are also able to showcase, like when Frank laments “working all the time” backed by a wild, livewire guitar. Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Estrada’s funky bass (and vocals) which lynchpinned one of The Harm’s greatest strengths: their genre blending and mind bending brand of rock that can switch styles on the fly.

The Ghost Wolves close the night at full throttle

If Tusk, Her’s stage persona is mysterious and dark and The Harm’s presence mellow and relaxed, then by comparison The Ghost Wolves’ showmanship was bubbly and infectious.

The duo of Carley “Carazy” Wolf (guitar, vocals) and Jonathan “Little Hammer” Wolf (drums, vocals) were greeted by pack-like wolf howls as they took the stage and began their set. And I’ll be damned if I almost didn’t throw my neck out during their whole performance.

The energy of the two was palpable and they even included badass stage props (like a wendigo-looking-wolf-mask) which was used to great effect to get the crowd (even more invested) and chanting. A highlight of their performance was the song “Grandma’s a Rebel” (Raised by the Devil)” which had the audience yelling “raised by the devil” to finish off the chorus. It was loads of fun and showcased just how personable The Ghost Wolves are on stage.

The Ghost Wolves deliver a high octane, fun filled set. (Photo by Jasmine Kim.)

Speaking of charisma, The Ghost Wolves where cool enough to ask one lucky fan, after an instrumental hiccup, to re-string one of their guitars, as they stated “we aren’t that fancy.” This was a really awesome moment and it just showed how down to earth the duo was.

Anyway, The Ghost Wolves set rocked with a upbeat percussion tempo and a primal, edgy guitar. “Journey On (RIP WINTER THE GREATEST)” is the best memorial send-off any furry friend could ask for, while “White Lily” makes you feel as if you’re hurdling down the highway at over 100 mph with not a care in the world and nitrous surging through your veins.

Carley’s voice is also something to write home about. Full of passion and surging with the spirit of freedom that only rock music can bring, her voice embodies a dead serious playfulness. “Attack Attack Attack” might be the best testament to this.

Just like with Tusk, Her, and The Harms, I cannot wait for the next chance to see The Ghost Wolves live. So the next time you find yourself looking for some solid rock that boast some great female-fronted talent, look no further than these three local bands, who deliver steller sets, and play around the city frequently.

(Feature photo and one of The Harm’s photos–accredited in the caption courtesy of Breezy Ritter Photography. All other photos by On Vinyl’s Jasmine Kim.)