Friday, June 2, 2023

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Sound Stage

Single Ladies and Walking Sluts


Madison Ray, of Madison Ray and All The Single Ladies, performing at Wooly’s.

Madison Ray, of Madison Ray and All The Single Ladies, performing at Wooly’s.

Gathering together for the third time in Des Moines, a group of forward-thinking ladies and gentlemen (but mostly ladies) marched downtown to the State Capitol as a part of the annual Slutwalk Des Moines this past Sunday. Helping raise awareness about victim shaming and hoping to drive home the idea that consent is never implied, the event drew about 100 marchers this year. Afterward, many of them found their way to Wooly’s for the annual post-walk party, where music was provided by three high-energy local acts.

Leading things off was Hath No Fury. The four-piece is clearly getting more comfortable with its revamped sound. The individual components were working well together: New drummer Jay Corigliano adds a lot of personality to the band’s low end, and the harmonies are coming along. The band unveiled some new wrinkles on older songs, and its newer tracks are getting more confident.

Following up was Madison Ray and All the Single Ladies. The four-piece has carved out a niche for itself with a high-energy sound that’s a kind of jazzy, blues-infused pop. Playing without a guitarist, the sound is anchored by keyboardist Chris Powell, who also provides backing vocals for the titular Madison Ray. Locking down the bottom of the group’s sound are bassist Brenden Pugh and drummer Ricky Alvarado. All three are excellent musicians, with Pugh’s thumb-picking on the bass being particularly tight. But, of course, the bills are paid by Ray. With a stage presence that’s equal parts Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury, there’s no doubt that Ray’s a consummate front man. A live performance of that quality can cover for a lot of things, and — on this night at least — Ray’s vocals were all pretty shaky. It may have been an off night, but the show was a triumph of style over substance. Watch the performance, and you’re blown away; turn away from the stage, and it’s a hit-or-miss night at the karaoke bar. CV

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