Article by Melanie Macpherson
Photos by Tracy Creighton
If Courtney Love and Katy Perry started a punk band it might sound and look a little bit like The Checkout Queens. With double the vocalists, it's double the fun and we get everything from slap you in the face punk rock to country twang-pop all with humor, unbridled enthusiasm, and comical wardrobe changes. Avery Wall and Oli Guselle are a powerful vocal team; at times blending perfectly in angelic harmonies and at others belting hellfire in discordant howls. Musically, it's fast paced and aggressive but with a pop-happy playfulness that makes the music approachable. The band features the talents of Spencer Krips and Braden Buhler on guitar, Alan Nieman on bass, and Jake Decker on drums, resulting in one full stage!
Saturday, October 21 The Checkout Queens hosted an album release party at The Black Cat Tavern in Saskatoon. The set started off strong, with a cover of Wolf Alice’s ‘Smile’ after which Wall, dressed as a lifeguard rescued Guselle, who was dressed as a victim of a shark attack. With the shark vanquished, the band moved directly into a cover of Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed a Girl’ which had the entire crowd rambunctiously singing along. The band even handed out prizes for best costumes in the crowd. Their hour-long set included a variety of covers, newer unreleased songs as well as the entire six song EP.
The newly released self-titled EP, produced by Matt Stinn at Rainy Day Recording Co., is a first for the band. The album is playful and full of surprises, brimming with musical skill and lyrical fearlessness. Early standouts from the EP are ‘Freddy </3’ a ballad about Freddy Kreuger being lonely on Halloween because all the other psychopaths have plans, and ‘Heavy Metal Bake Sale’ which sounds kind of like The Interrupters covering ‘Blitzkreig Bop’. ‘Blue’ is another memorable track as it showcases those gorgeous vocal harmonies alongside some really raunchy riffs. The live versions, on the other hand, gleefully threw precision out the window in favour of uninhibited, unrestrained recklessness, and it was glorious.
The night wasn’t only about the Checkout Queens, though, and the rest of the lineup didn’t disappoint. Local band, Little Darkness, opened the show for the packed Black Cat crowd. It seems that every time this band performs, they become more confident in their sound and performance. Dressed in eye meltingly shiny alien costumes, the whole band was engaging as hell and Aurora Bella stepped the vocals up to a whole new level of intensity. The crowd showed their obvious love for the recently released ‘Dumb Enough’, but really went all-in over a cover of The Runaway’s ‘Cherry Bomb’.
The middle slot was held by Fawns, a Lethbridge band branded as ‘eclectic alt-rock made by and for weirdos’. This crowd loved the covers, and completely lost it when Fawns played the B-52’s ‘Love Shack’. Clifford Westcot, a keyboardist in a blue dragon costume, started singing the verses, while the bands’ outrageously powerful lead vocalist Mercedes Fawns provided the feminine chorus. The Fawns setlist included lots of original music as well, including their newly released original ‘Breath of Air’.
If musical mayhem is what you’re looking for, all three of these bands deliver. From beginning to end this show was a three fisted power punch to the face.