Despite the fact that I’ve been back in Los Angeles for almost four months, I haven’t had the opportunity to see very many shows. And frankly, I’ve been aching to stand in front of a stage full of musicians. Last Friday, March 9th, I finally got the opportunity to satisfy my craving for live music when I was invited to see The Fabulous Miss Wendy at the Whiskey A Go Go.
I arrived at the famous Sunset Strip venue around 11:00 p.m., as Miss Wendy and her band were setting up onstage. There were seven other bands on the bill for that night, but I was only there for Miss Wendy’s set. Around 11:15, the lights went dim, and the fabulous frontwoman began to shred on a fire engine red Stratocaster with her back to the audience. After several minutes of her remarkable solo, Miss Wendy pealed off her jacket, revealing a bright pink t-shirt that almost matched her fuchsia hair, as drummer Christian Alexander and bassist Vince Wong, joined her onstage. They then dove into the beginning of a furious half hour set of guitar hero riffs and stances, accompanied by high-pitched screams of unapologetic lyrics.
There wasn’t a whole lot of motion in the crowd, but unlike most shows with minimal dancing, no one looked bored. As fans watched, their faces displayed respectful awe, rather than jaded indifference. I am always pleasantly surprised when a musician wins over an LA audience, but considering Miss Wendy’s credentials, it’s really not that surprising that this girl is so easily able to win fans.
Upon hearing the first wail of her guitar, I thought, “she has been playing for a LONG time.” Wendy’s bio confirmed that I was right, stating that her relationship with the six stringed axe began the age of 10. Though her self-titled full-length debut was released just last year, she has already got a pretty impressive resume. In addition to praise from publications like Revolver and a sponsorship by GMP guitars, one of her many tours has included an opening spot for Slash.
Just past the midway mark of her set, Alexander and Wong left the stage for another solo by Miss Wendy. After finishing, Wendy headed upstairs so Alexander could showcase his skills, proving she wasn’t the only one onstage with performance chops. After his minutes in the spotlight, Wendy, and Wong graced the stage once more, this time accompanied by Sara Rae and her teal Gibson SG. (Rae is an LA based guitar player, who just released her debut album, Transmutation.) Though Wendy had been communicating with the audience via snarling smiles and gestures with her instrument, she addressed them directly for the first time when she introduced the musicians behind her. She then announced, “I’m gonna tell you a little story,” and launched into “Crazy Fucked Up Bitch.”
Before the next number, Wendy said that she was “sorry to inform” us this would be her last song, and then wailed that it was “time to kick out the jaaaaaams!” Wendy had been saving her best for last, throwing every bit of her rambunctious energy into the final moments of her performance. Midway through her song, she ripped off her t-shirt, revealing a gold bikini top, and climbed down into the crowd. The delighted audience cleared a space for the guitarist, as she writhed around the floor, grinding her guitar against audience members (including my mother who gleefully laughed when Wendy decided to use her leg as a slide). After climbing back onstage, Wendy walked up to the drum kit where she grabbed one of Alexander’s drumsticks and briefly pounded the cymbal. She then dropped the stick and picked a bottle of pink glitter, which she showered herself and the front row with, and then hurled into the audience. (To this day, I am continuing to find flecks of glitter around my house.) She offered the crowd a grateful “thank you” before exiting.
The day after the show, I made sure to check out Miss Wendy’s debut record, which features some pretty noteworthy names, including producer, Devo’s Gerald Casale, and drums by Josh Freese (The Vandals, A Perfect Circle, and many more). The record isn’t quite as exciting as her live performance, but don’t get me wrong-it’s still a fun record. It’s just that these versions of her songs full of squealing pop-punk vocals with sparse screaming and heavy guitars don’t quite do justice to Miss Wendy’s range. (As someone who is normally a fan of the fast and simple three-minute punk song, I can’t believe I am saying this, but I wish there had been more guitar solos). That said, though I’m definitely excited to see what this incredible talent comes up with on her second record, and if she books another date in whatever town I happen to be in, it’s pretty likely I’ll be there.