Thursday, November 8, 2007

Miss Derringer @ El Rey


Miss Derringer
El Rey Theatre
Los Angeles


The Players: Liz McGrath, singer; Morgan Slade, guitar; Sylvain de Muizon, bass; Cody James, drums; Lightnin' Bill Woodcock, lead guitar.

Material: Los Angeles based Miss Derringer is fully loaded with two albums and a recent two song EP, all of which are ammunition tracks that improves with every new release. Their latest single, "Heartbreaks & Razorblades," blend shake-a-bop sounds with Goth satire that would make a mourner sway at a funeral; the lyrics are suicidal sad, but the rhythm is that of a glimmering beach sunrise. Miss Derringer has a sound that one can either hear as half-full of hope or half-empty with hopelessness, or both, depending on the perspective of the listener. This band could be categorized as 60's Motown revitalized with Rockabilly, somewhat like The Shirelles' "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" with a bit of country twang and endless bleeding.

Musicianship: Liz McGrath's vocals are dark and soft like hot tar, smiling sugar vocals with a knife in the gut lyrics. Supporting on guitars are Lightnin' Bill Woodcock slinging the dusty cowboy ride into the sunset and Morgan Slade delivering soft surf waves. Sylvain de Muizon on bass and Cody James on drums keep the tumbleweed tide from breaking into a catastrophe of contrasting rhythms. But Liz McGrath's vocals are the secret ingredient to blend the Los Angeles surf rock waters with the west coast cowboy desert oil.


Performance: Miss Derringer fills listeners with irony of death and hope, somewhat like their performance that buried their audience alive. Liz McGrath stood proper with elbows out and hands clasping, wearing a black and white striped imprisoned heart leotard with a red velvet vest and a petite doll hat to match, swinging her hips as she sung her songs of woe. Backing her vocals was the "Ghost Army" of black collar bandit cowboys with armbands expressing a tear dripping nightingale, the lone night singer. Every few songs two ladies in red satin would flank McGrath and swim dance, making it seem that if hell had a beach, Miss Derringer, McGrath as the Goth Gidget, would be the perfect band to play endless on it, in the rising dusk, for all the fallen broken hearted suicide victims. Their performance adds another depth of sweet darkness to their grim upbeat music.

Summary: This band seems to have reinvented the oldies of the 60's, when the sound was fun and somewhat whimsical and yet delivered a humble message. Miss Derringer spills a broken heart and a bit of country into the mix with a dash of rock, making listeners twist and grieve, and want to shout their pain. Miss Derringer is not typical pop, but they'll definitely shoot a bullet to your heart if you give them a shot.

--Jeff Pegg

(check out MORE PHOTOS from this night of Miss Derringer in our pics page at

And here's a youtube clip from the show. Enjoy!