Thiessen, Cousins Are Ultimate One-Two Punch



Heather Cousins is a hero

After five shots of Maker’s Mark, one shot of Jameson, and five Sculpins my head was whirring like a ceiling fan. One of my contacts had become blurry. And my Converse shoes had become Pollocked with warm beer. Tower Bar’s lighting is charcoal and ash; a viscous black that is only perforated by the occasional shock of a passing car’s high-beams. It’s easy to feel like Blanche DuBois of a Streetcar Named Desire in this kind of place. I’m wearing a Winona Ryder shirt and a Mississippi Studios hoodie, both of which, after several spilled pints, are clinging to me like a surfer’s wetsuit. It’s disgusting. In the middle of this orchestrated chaos, Ex-Girlfriends are baying with a possessed, fang-baring, glee. Tarra Thiessen is howling, driving her foot down into the sternum of every show-goer at Tower Bar. When she lets up, briefly, Heather Marie Cousins assumes duty as vocalist and equipment bruising virtuoso. Cousins racks the shotgun by spinning in a heap of wires, mashing the microphone, and roaring on the floor of the iconic City Heights venue.

The one-two punch of Thiessen and Cousins may be the best in rock music today. The two Brooklyn-based artists aren’t afraid of rattling the cages of audience members, bellowing into the abyss, and playing hard, molar-grinding, music. Cousins’ unflinching power hums and pops: Here’s a musician that understands the topography of a venue, the snapping electricity of a venerable live performance, and the palm-striking lunacy of being wholly invested in the moment. Thiessen’s platform for attack, meanwhile, is contained ire: the artist buoys her vocals with adroit rage. Christine Hill lays the groundwork for the guttural deliveries with grimy, syrupy bass and Monika Knapp punctuates on the keys. Ex-Girlfriends play fast, loud, and hard. Here is a band that cranes with confidence, rolls out powder kegs, and work together as a fully-functioning, devil-may-care unit. Go. See. Them. Live.


Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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