By: Jessica Grose
There is a little-known band from the late '90s and early aughts called Betty Blowtorch. You might find them in the bargain bin, perhaps stumbling across a copy of their 1999 album, Get Off; its garish, campy cover depicts technicolored, zombie-looking women. Betty Blowtorch was led by a woman known as Bianca Butthole (who died in 2003) and wrote songs with titles like "Fish Taco" and the W.K. worthy "Party 'Til Ya Puke." Seattle outfit Schoolyard Heroes seems to be picking up the Blowtorch where Betty left off, especially with tracks like "Battlestar Anorexia," "Serial Killers Know How to Party," and "Centaur: Half-Man Half Motorcycle."
Lead singer Ryann Donnelly carries the harpie flag. Her semi-shrill voice is like Heart's Ann Wilson on acid, and when she spews priceless phrases like rhyming "pestilence" with "consequence," Donnelly seems to be lobbying for goth poster girl of the new millennium. Sonically, the band opts for a noir-ish combination of punk and metal, but remains a few slick decibels quieter than punk or metal standards. Where Betty Blowtorch's sensational lyrics were mostly sexual, Schoolyard Heroes get their kicks from pulp violence. The last two songs on the band's debut album are called "Nothing Cleanses Quite Like a Fire," and "The Girl Who Was Born Without a Face." The titles speak for themselves.
Schoolyard Heroes are currently on tour until September 2. Rumors of their explosive live show (Ryann has been compared to notorious show-stopper Karen O) should provide a welcome kick in the pants for any audience. Though only 19, Donnelly has already shared the stage with Pretty Girls Make Graves and Vendetta Red.
Schoolyard Heroes tour dates:
8/15, New York, NY (Rothko)8/17, Rochester, NY (Water St.)8/18, Toronto, ON (El Mocambo)8/19, Montreal, QC (La Tulipe)8/20, Poughkeepsie, NY (The Chance)8/21, Philadelphia, PA (North Star)8/22, Boston, MA (Middle East Upstairs)8/23, Hoboken, NJ (Maxwells)8/24, Richmond, VA (Alley Katz)8/25, Raleigh, NC (Cat's Cradle)8/26, Charlotte, NC (Casbah at Tremont)8/27, Atlanta, GA (Masquerade)8/28, Jacksonville, FL (Jack Rabbits)8/29, Orlando, FL (The Social)8/30, Tampa, FL (Orpheum)9/1, Greenville, SC (Handlebar)9/2, Winston-Salem, NC (Ziggy's)