Death Valley Girls (photo: Estefany Gonzalez)
Despite the title of Death Valley Girls‘ latest album Darkness Rains, the band’s energetic live show was a beacon of light before Thanksgiving weekend. From the moment the drumbeat of “More Dead” started and the raspy opening guitar riffs bounced off the walls of the Rickshaw Stop, it felt as though a wave of white magic washed away the outside noise of corporate America.
In a world where Bay Area housing costs are at an all-time high and music lovers are forced to cut Thanksgiving dinner short to make rent and large corporations kick off Black Friday deals by 5pm, there was no better place to see traditions thrown out the window and focus on what really matters — music and friendship.
Though glitz, glamour, and rock and roll reigned in the Rickshaw Stop, the show still managed to bring listeners back to the real world to encourage attendees to donate funds towards fire relief. Not only did opening band Gymshorts pass around a donation box during a high-power set, but Death Valley Girls also circled back to mention of the donation box between songs.
It wasn’t just the music giving off a magnetic pull. Beyond the moments the bands spent performing, the light radiating from the night far surpasses just the time spent on stage. The DIY attitude and crowd interaction from all bands on the bill kept the line between performers and fans blurred.
On our walk to The Market on Market Street Market Street before the show, the members of Death Valley Girls waved at fans outside the building as though they were long-lost friends. And really, its no surprise coming from a group of welcoming people who give hugs over handshakes upon first meeting. The conversation is light and airy despite the wave of smoke still lingering in the air. Singer Bonnie Bloomgarden admits she’s manifesting a cold off.
Later, backstage at the venue, bassist Nikki Pickle works on a graphic design project while guitarist Larry Schemel explains how he edited a Death Valley Girls music video when Bloomgarden brings a new friend behind the scenes to meet her bandmates and introduces her cohorts as her best friends.
Just minutes before the Death Valley Girls set, Bloomgarden says there are no pre-show rituals or traditions for the band, just watching friends play before her band takes the stage. The bands work together to help each other load equipment on and off stage. Each band member sets up their own gear, and there’s a spirit of camaraderie in the air. Drummer Laura Kelsey kicks off the beat, and its in those moments Darkness Rains.