For a band, playing a gig at a non-traditional venue can be both refreshing and challenging. Refreshing, because it’s a nice break from dingy clubs and bars. Challenging, as locations such as street fairs and charity events aren’t always set up with proper sound and lighting.
Go Betty Go is a high-energy all-girl Hispanic punk rock band (now that’s a mouthful!) who played a gig at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach. The occasion was Viva La Muxer, which was “the official Los Angeles celebration of International Women’s Day and a benefit for Las Fotos Project.” The event featured all-female line-ups of musical performances, artists, and pop-up shops.
The stage itself was in the outdoor courtyard of the museum, and although the fixture itself was a permanent performance stage, it was set up rather haphazardly. There was ample lighting, but it was focused on the area immediately in front of the stage with the result being that the artists were literally performing in the dark.
As for the sound, the band really struggled through the first song, sounding pretty ragged. Lead vocalist Nicolette Vilar called out “more vocals and guitar in the monitors, please.” After the next two songs she repeated her request for “more vocals.” (Having playing in many bands myself, there is no worse feeling than to be onstage and not being able to hear your own guitar or vocals).
But—true musicians that they are, the girls pushed through the technical difficulties and overcame the challenge. Nicolette’s sister Aixa is an incredible powerhouse behind the drum kit. It was just amazing to watch her; arms and legs flailing, big mane of blond hair flying. By Your Side is one of the songs on the band’s new EP Reboot, and Aixa pushed the song relentlessly.
The setlist for the gig was a selection from Reboot and the band’s earlier material. Aixa’s rhythm section partner is bassist Michelle Rangel, a mere wisp of a girl who’s bass probably weighs more than her. However, her playing most definitely belayed her slight appearance, matching Aixa stride-for-stride.
The band’s guitarist and namesake is Betty Cicneros. Another of the new songs is It Haunts You Now, which is the first single and video off the EP. It has a great guitar riff, Cicneros made it look effortless, and her Les Paul and Marshall setup really cut through the mix. She could be described as the group’s “quiet storm.” She went about her business visually methodical but sonically solid.
After the initial stumbles, Nicolette recovered to find her stride. Singing with forceful abandon, dancing and spinning, by the midpoint of the set she was thoroughly enjoying herself. And, although the artsy audience at the event may have not been Go Betty Go’s natural audience, by the end of their set they had won the crowd over, as evidenced by the rousing applause they gave the four girls as they retreated back into the darkness.