Lucid Culture


Randi Russo and Band Live in NYC 6/22/08

In a triumphant return to the stage since breaking up her old band, New York noir rocker Randi Russo and her new backing unit careened like a wounded panther through an all-too-brief set of mostly unreleased material. Russo and the unit behind her – longtime lead guitarist Lenny Molotov, bassist JD Wood (from Molotov’s own excellent band) and drummer Pete Hayes of powerpop legends the Figgs – are all fine musicians, but it was clear that none of them could hear each other onstage: they’d been invited at the last minute to play one of those trendoid trashpits on the Lower East, a club notorious for its completely useless stage monitors. Yet the power and intensity of the material, coupled with the sheer passion of the band, transcended any sonic or tightness issues.


Russo is a unique and somewhat solitary figure in the indie rock world, a fiery guitarist, brilliant lyricist and fine singer whose stock in trade is outsider anthems. Generating a firestorm of eerie overtones from her bright red Gibson SG guitar, she opened with a new song. Russo delights in subverting any power structure that tries to confine her, whether societal, musical or otherwise, and this ridiculously catchy number is a prime example: “I am, I am invisible/I feel, I feel invincible.” She followed with another new one, an excoriating chronicle of a drama queen, perhaps titled Venus Crossing Saturn: the poor girl just can’t get used to the simple fact that the “world’s not made up of simple patterns.” Russo also added a surprise outro to the gorgeous, backbeat-driven hit Get Me Over, pulled the funk-inflected Where You Wanna Go out of the archives (she hardly plays this equally gorgeous tune live), stomped her way through her signature song Wonderland (a brutally sarcastic swipe at someone going through their fifteen minutes of fame), and a revved-up version of the title track from her most recent cd Shout Like a Lady (our pick for best album of 2006).


Russo’s resolutely individualist songs had a special resonance considering how club’s door staff were treating the customers. Before the night started, the frontwoman of one of the other bands on the bill came through the door and went up to the foreign girl who was taking money. “Hi,” she smiled, “We’ve been emailing with each other. I always like to make a personal connection,” she said warmly, extending her hand.


The door girl would have none of it. “I.D.!!! I.D.!!! I.D.!!!” she yelled indignantly.


The musician was taken aback. “I’m playing tonight. I’m in the band. You booked my band.  I just wanted to say hi.”


“You must show I.D., I have to see,” the door girl hollered petulantly. Memo to door girl: dunno how they do it in Uighuristan or wherever the hell you come from, but this is America. Musicians are treated with respect here. Especially if you’re the one who invited them to play your wretched club in the first place. Needless to say, Lucid Culture won’t be reviewing any shows here again (if you’re wondering which trendoid trashpit this was, check our Venues section, to your right. You’ll find it).

June 23, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews


  1. Jesus. You really didn’t need to note the woman’s nationality. She’s just a lame door woman. Don’t blame her nation of origin on that. What next? Are you going to drop the N-bomb on these pages because you had a bad experience with venue employees who aren’t white?

    Comment by Anon | June 23, 2008 | Reply

  2. who says she wasn’t white?!? Point is, she’s a Nazi. Nazis come in all colors.

    Comment by lc | June 23, 2008 | Reply

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