“Free shows are the best shows!” announced Natalie Ribbons, mastermind behind Agent Ribbons who headlined an all girl showcase at the Uptown last Wednesday. Amen to that. Originally from Sacramento, these ladies moved to Austin a few years back. It is our loss and their gain. Their time in Austin has paid off with yet more energy and confidence. The set began with an acapella song complete with a cooperative hand clapping game. One song featured masks, another left Natalie lying on the ground, and all brought infectious, barefoot, pogo action. They played a great deal from their brand new 2nd CD/LP, Chateau Crone, just released on Oakland’s very own Antenna Farm Records. They closed with “Birds and Bees” from their 2006 CD/LP Time Travel and Romance, a surprise encore and special request from some very excited friends in the front row.

Oakland girls The Hot Toddies held the middle slot of the showcase. The first song could have been the Go-Go’s (and that’s not such a bad thing really), but from there they took off, mixing surf and sugary pop nuggets with some serious instrumentation. Take “Rain or Shine” from their aptly-titled, new CD Get Your Heart On. There is no reason this shouldn’t be a summer radio hit. The 1st CD Smell the Mitten contains the now classic “Wet Dream” with a great line about Chai tea. Four part harmonies are a rare commodity these days, and often for good reason, but these ladies pull it off.

All the boys with cameras were very excited

Opening the evening were two more Oakland rocker grrrls known as Bam!Bam! – I’m sad to say I only caught the last song, but it left me wanting more. As if by telepathy, they projected a video as they left the stage. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a band end the set with a video but surprisingly it worked. I believe this awesome video was for “Why I Had To Go” and now I long to see it live. Fortunately Bam!Bam! play this Saturday in Oakland’s Mosswood Park as part of Moss Woodstock, an all day free festival of art and music. It all starts at noon.