Brody Dalle, lead singer of The Distillers, is punk rock like Iggy Pop is punk rock. It’s not about the small-time. It’s not really about politics, either, though she’s not averse to writing songs about politics from time to time. It’s about feedback-laced, razor-sharp rock’n’roll, knowing how to work a crowd, makeup and tight pants (and a belt buckle that says “DICK”) and making even the frat boys dance to your tune. Brody is the rock star this world needs, in an age where all bands seem to be making fun of themselves, and where the biggest female rock star, Gwen Stefani, does interviews talking about how she just wanted to get married and have babies.
None of that for this Australian girl, whom it’s hard to believe was known for a while simply as Tim Armstrong of Rancid’s wife. Brody may be the heiress apparent to Courtney Love’s “most hated woman in rock” title, but I don’t see any meltdowns in her future. And if you hate her, well, you’re still thinking about her.
The first time I heard The Distillers, I wasn’t sure if the singer was male or female, but when Brody takes the stage, she’s all woman. She stands with her shoulders thrown back as if daring the world to take her on, and the muscles in her pale, tattooed arms suggest she’d win. She plays her guitar slung low, and her now red-blonde hair hangs in her heavily lined eyes. She doesn’t talk much between songs, though when a fight erupts in the pit, she stops to drawl, “I hope you aren’t fighting over a boy.”
Giant drummer Andy Granelli looks like he could finish any fights Brody started, and guitarist Tony Bradley plays with skinny-armed fury. Barefoot bassist Ryan Sinn has more sarcastic comments for the audience, but you have to feel bad for these boys because no one really cares who they are, they’re just background for Brody to strut and dance.
She knows just when to lean into the crowd, just how far to reach so no one can touch her, even though everyone strains to, and when she puts down her guitar for a 13th Floor Elevators cover, the resemblance to Iggy Pop increases as she’s free to fully seduce the crowd, male and female. All the girls want to be her, or at least one of the “LA Girls” she sings about, and all the guys want to be the one that makes her heart beat faster, even though she insists that “Beat Your Heart Out” “is not a love song.”
Their set is a mix of songs from their three albums, with equal response from the crowd to each of them–that is, screaming, clawing toward the front of the stage, and cries of “Brody, we love you!”
Being a working girl, I again missed out on the first couple of bands, though I did catch the end of the Icarus Line‘s set. Someone had asked me before the show what I knew about them, and I replied that I thought they had long hair and wore lots of black. That’s pretty much how they sounded, too.