The Donnas: Safari Sam's, Los Angeles, CA 6.30.07
The Donnas are good. They’re not “good…for a bunch of girls,” or “good…for a chick band.” They are just good.
The Billboard cover girls rocked out Safari Sam’s putting on a stellar performance that was a retrospective of their seven album catalog. They even gave their fans a taste of new material from their yet-to-be-named September 2007 release.
Their sound that has evolved through the years from punk to rock n’ roll to glam attracts a crowd of different styles and ages. Rocker dads and moms smiled in delight, living vicariously through their young children in leather jackets and studded belts by lifting and tossing them in the crowd for some surfing action. Metal heads banged their heads, swinging their hair wildly to the screaming riffs. Young teens jumped around, danced, and sang at the top of their lungs to every tune. That night, everyone, in their own way, got lost in a world of rock with The Donnas supplying the sounds.
Their first show back on stage in months, and one of their first since severing ties with former label Atlantic, the girls took the stage to wild cheers. Lead singer Brett Anderson a.k.a. “Donna A.” was clad in a black tank top and zebra printed pants seemed touched, with the rest of the band, at the turnout of their hardcore fans who traveled from across the country for this one-off show. They proceeded to jump into their first song, “Don’t Wait Up For Me”, from their forthcoming release.
The girls’ recent rekindled love with 80s rock the likes of Def Leppard showed. Along with Donna A’s loud pants, bassist Maya Ford, a.k.a. Donna F. represented with black leggings and white boots while jumping and head banging to the tunes. Guitarist Allison Robertson, a.k.a. Donna R. had a tattered shirt hanging off one shoulder, tight jeans, a loose hanging belt, and traded her Gibson Les Paul and SG in for a more “metal-tastic” Gibson Explorer. Drummer Torry Castellano, a.k.a. Donna C. kept it simple with a tank top and jeans.
We know the crowd, we know the girls, we know the style, but what about the rock? The band brought it tenfold. The set wasn’t completely perfect, as some of the older songs seemed a little off, but no one in their 20s will sound exactly the same performing a song they recorded in their teens. So that’s forgivable. Their hard rocking tunes off their last two albums, the breakout Spend the Night and the under appreciated Gold Medal were impeccable with every cowbell hit, pulsating bass line, and shredding solo. Lead singer Anderson commanded the crowd, singing to every side, and genuinely overwhelmed with the energy between each song. Their new material shows that this band still has a lot of music in them, with anthems like “Girl Talk” that you can just picture yourself singing along with in an arena packed with thousands.
After their “last song”, the Spend the Night track “5 o’ Clock in the Morning”, the crowd kept cheering and calling on the girls which in turn, brought them out for what would be a special three song encore. After playing “You Make Me Hot” off their 1998 release American Teenage Rock ‘n’ Roll Machine, The Donnas brought out opener Donita Sparks and her drummer Lady Dee Plakas. Both are former members of the punk/grunge band L7, and idols of The Donnas. Together they performed the L7 track “American Society”, which also was one of the first songs The Donnas played together when they first formed in middle school. The dream performance left the girls of The Donnas emotional afterwards and Anderson and Castellano admitted they were near tears with the experience. After regaining some composure, the girls ended the night with their breakout hit, and my personal favorite Guitar Hero track, “Take It Off”, which no doubt tore down the proverbial walls left by the roof already blown off by the rest of the set.
Overall, The Donnas brought arena powerful tunes to a small club on this night. They have fun on stage, but take their performing as serious as any other seasoned performer. These girls are rock n’ roll fans that make great rock n’ roll for other rock n’ roll fans. The Donnas truly are in it for the music, and it shows. They definitely get the gold medal for this night. The group is set to tour in the Fall to coincide with the release of their album.
“Don’t Wait Up For Me”*
“Like An Animal”*
“40 Boys in 40 Nights”
“What Do I Have To Do?”*
“Who Invited You”
“Fall Behind Me”
“You Wanna Get Me High”
“5 o’ Clock in the Morning”
“You Make Me Hot”
“American Society” (L7 cover with Donita Sparks and Lady Dee Plakas)
“Take It Off”
*new song off upcoming album