The Starlite Desperation
Hello. My name is Adam and I’m a Donnaholic.
There, I admitted it, and before an international audience of thousands. For others hooked on the Donnas, there’s no need to elaborate as we share the same affliction. But for those out of the loop, I’ll try to explain: The Donnas represent all that is good about music. They are enthusiastic and unpretentious, edgy and cool, a welcome change from the multitude of preening drones shamelessly mass-produced and force-fed to consumers. The band members are gifted, power-pop divas who provide a ray of sonic sunshine in an often-dreary music world.
Having waxed poetic about my addiction, I must state that a true Donnaholic cannot survive exclusively on the group’s albums alone. Thus I braved a chilly New York night to see the Donnas close their stateside tour at Webster Hall. Blending into an array of skate punks, teenyboppers, collegians, club kid teens, and a smattering of leather boys, I hung back, anxious for my dose of the Donnas. It did not come immediately, as I had to endure a pair of unremarkable openers…
Beginning the evening’s festivities was a rather forgettable quartet, the Starlite Desperation. It seems the band’s members neglected to take adequate pre-show, anti-seizure medication. The convulsive nature of their set eclipsed anything they hoped to achieve, as they distinguished themselves as more a performing comedy troupe than an up-and-coming band. The only noteworthy aspect of their appearance was an interesting gimmick incorporated into the closing song: The passing of the drum kit, piece by piece, into the audience so that the drummer could play amongst the crowd. Had he spontaneously combusted, leaving but a small green globule on his stool, the stunt would have been memorable, but alas, it elicited only a few shrugs as my fellow Donnaholics expressed their collective indifference. “Yawn… Bring on the headliners…”
Next up were the Datsuns, who took the stage and tore through an energized bit of shaggy, twin-guitar rock. Brash, loud, and demonstrating some keen musicianship, the band remained an enigma. Once touted as the “next sure thing”, the lads are still wallowing in opening act-dom with their window of opportunity closing rapidly. The problem stems from a lack of a distinct image—what are the Datsuns trying to be? AC/DC-lite? The MC5 revisited? This identity conundrum subsequently leads to the obvious: Can the band defy the odds and still break through to the upper echelon? An interesting query, but one best left for another time. “Yawn… Bring on the headliners…”
After an eternity my patience paid off and, at 10:45 p.m., I got what I paid for: The Donnas. Strolling into a roomful of impassioned, extended family members, the band turned on and tuned up, effortlessly kicking out the jams to everyone’s delight. Brett Anderson belted the songs with precision while exuding charming confidence as Torry Castellano pounded away with abandon and Maya Ford generated a surprising bass roar from stage right.
And guitarist Allison Robertson? She shone brightly behind her Gibson SG, a fledgling Angus Young wrapped up in a bundle of power chords and a mop of whirling hair. Mixing new and old into the set list, the band treated us to an hour of Donnas-infused fun, enough to satisfy the cravings of every Donnaholic in attendance.
Although there are a variety of reasons for the overwhelming appeal of the Donnas, one stands out as evidenced by their Webster Hall performance: They sound as good, if not better, live .
After the band finished its rousing, three-song encore, I stepped into the raw, midnight drizzle with “Take It Off” still ringing in my ears. As I walked the empty streets, I wondered aloud what a Donnaholic was supposed to do now that the 2004 tour has come to an end. I guess I’m relegated to firing up Spend the Night and Gold Medal, at least until the girls get back in the studio to record a new album.
I’m sure it will be worth the wait.