Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

I had an anonymous {or should I say imaginary?} tip off from afar which said {I quote}, "Clevergirl is coming to Seattle. Go to the show. You won't be sorry." Trusting my source, I skittered on down to the Mars Bar expecting entertainment, amusement, giggling and some sassy rock that can only be delivered by a kick ass all XX chromosome band. Sweet Jesus, I got everything I've ever wanted and an extra side of rock for the road.

Clevergirl is comprised of four multi-talented, multi-tasking, multi-faceting, multi-platinum {ok, maybe not yet} San Francisco goddesses who rely on witty repartee, clever lyrics, tantalizing guitar hooks and sing-song-y {but refreshingly intelligent} melodies to coerce their listeners to pledge their undying love to all that is Clevergirl. I was skeptical. I wasn't a believer. Now I'm one step away from donating plasma so I can buy Clevergirl t-shirts and Clevergirl CD's for everyone on my Christmas list. Eleven more steps and I'll be cured, but until then I'm listening to their songs and wondering when my next trip to San Fran will be.

Their resume alone is so sickly impressive, you may want to sit down before reading any further. Wait, what am I talking about? You're in front of a computer, chances are you're already in a seated position. Onward…

Singer/guitarist Karen Sandvoss has a rich musical background with a variety of instruments. She played drums/sang for Supra and JimmyJack, has done some long-distance collaborating with the British techno/rock group Audiocat AND currently plays in an indie-rock band called Beautiful Engines in addition to Clevergirl. Um, can you say "talented"?

Wait, don't say it yet. I haven't even begun.

Drummer Rosie Panzarello played in the funk band Rhythm Baptism for six years and has played with a number of San Francisco bands too long for me to list in this review. Let me count them instead: nine.

Are you exhausted yet? Hold on, we're only halfway done.

When bassist Jodi Durst isn't commanding the low-end groove of Clevergirl, she's working as a bike messenger, spinning house music, or turning down offers from Coal Chamber because of her anti-mini-skirt policy.

Keyboardist Amie Penwell has been recording and performing as a solo artist for 7 years and is currently recording a full-length album.

Karen also disclosed at the beginning of their set that Clevergirl, "kicks ass in bowling". I doubt there is anything in this world that these four women can't collectively conquer. They sure had the middle aged, white haired man in the front row smitten. He bellowed "HOT" after every song they played. The entire show, his vocabulary never branched beyond "HOT". He demonstrated classic symptoms of the Teddy Ruxpin Syndrome. Besotted, he could only rewind and repeat, rewind and repeat.

Clevergirl reminds me of a band I discovered status-post their breakup, Pee Shy. I almost cried myself to sleep when I realized I would never see them live. Since then, I've been furiously searching for a band with a similar smart sound. Clevergirl quenched my Pee Shy thirst {that sounds vulgar} and then parched me for Clevergirl. I hope they come to Seattle again soon or I may dehydrate.

Did I mention Amie's keyboard was covered in white, shaga-rific fur and Karen had old school Reeboks on that looked as if they'd been dipped in red acrylic paint?

The distorted guitar had me banging my head and tapping my toes and then they would stop and sing in the sweetest harmonies. Can an imaginary girl get chills? Yes, she can. Yes, she did. The pregnant pauses were expertly inserted, and the instruments were occasionally softened so the harmonies and thoughtful lyrics could be heard and fully appreciated. They rocked the house. Granted, it wasn't a very large house that they were rockin', but they could easily rock mansions, arenas, my world… whatever.

There were 30 or so people who witnessed Clevergirl's stellar performance at the Mars Bar. At the end of the set, the eager audience was stomping on the floor, whistling, screaming, begging, clapping and standing up for an encore. Clevergirl pulled the ultimate rock move, they packed up their gear and left the audience wanting more.

Goddamn them.