The Slits Tribute - The Echo - 1/15/12
See also: R.I.P. Ari Up of the Slits, Dead at 48
One of The Slits' earliest and most iconic songs was their 1979 single "Typical Girls," but there was never anything typical about the way the British coven infused their punk-pop ditties with subversive strains of dub and reggae.
Their lead singer, Ari Up, died of cancer in 2010. She was so distinctively charismatic and charmingly rebellious that it took a small army of atypical women from such simpatico underground bands as Rainbow Arabia, White Magic, the Sharp Ease, Bratmobile, Raw Geronimo and Vivian Girls to capture all sides of her irrepressibly mad personality at last night's tribute show at Part Time Punks at the Echo.
No one person could really replace Ms. Up, so members of the all-star tribute band -- calling themselves the Slips for the occasion -- traded off instruments and took turns singing lead on early Slits classics. (Unfortunately, there wasn't much heard from Trapped Animal, the Slits' promising 2009 comeback album, which was the last roar from the mighty Ari Up, who would die suddenly a year later.)
The Slips' Jessica Espeleta
Thankfully, none of the night's stand-in divas attempted to mimic Up's notoriously garish fashion sense or unique vocal tics, preferring instead to remain in character as themselves, although Rainbow Arabia's Tiffany Preston, who started the night off with a buoyant version of "So Tough," exuded some of Up's confidence and fearless stage presence. Love as Laughter's Jessica Espeleta, who provided much of the Slips' musical backbone, switching from bass to guitar, was up next with a delightful rendition of "FM." A lot of times, these tribute shows often degenerate into campy sloppiness, but Espeleta's solidly throbbing bass lines echoed the dub-soaked intensity of the original Slits.
Raw Geronimo's Laena Geronimo was impressively energetic, taking the reins on "Ping Pong Affair" and "Typical Girls," as the other singers sashayed behind her in a sort of glorified Greek chorus. Bratmobile's Allison Wolfe stirred things up further with sweetly fierce takes on "Love und Romance" and "Vindictive." Later, beloved Sharp Ease mastermind Paloma Parfrey came out for even more spirited lead-vocal turns. Katy Goodman (Vivian Girls, La Sera) sang lead only once, but her version of the sarcastic ode "Shoplifting" was properly ebullient and celebratory.