Grass Widow

Pub date April 21, 2009
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

PREVIEW Grass Widow’s harmonious post-punk tension is fostered below SF street level, in a former meat locker containing, among other things, a very charming quilt with the band’s name patched into it. In anticipation of an impending record release, I met there with bass player Hannah Lew and drummer Lillian Maring (guitarist and trumpet player Raven Mahon was overseas), who, although living far apart — Maring is on the East Coast at present — were clearly very happy to be together.

"It’s not like there are any dispensable characters," explains Lew. After the dissolution of Shitstorm, Lew’s former band with Mahon, the two started playing together in 2007 with Maring, who was in the city for the summer from Washington state. Though Maring went back up north for a bit, she says she quickly returned and the trio "got really serious" — serious enough to tour the U.S. the following summer after cranking out a wonderful demo CD-R/ cassette that makes up most of their upcoming self-titled 12-inch on the local Make a Mess label.

Grass Widow artfully molds anxiety, love, and sturdy musicianship into a mesmerizing shape — a sound in which haunted beauty is tempered alternately by pain and, as Lew puts it, "the cathartic experience of playing the song itself." The group’s three-part harmonies are intricate, with an incidental, spoken quality. Imagine a darker shade of the Raincoats, with minimal, vocal harmony-centric arrangements — really terrific stuff.

A seven-inch EP is projected for summer release through Cape Shok, and Grass Widow has been making short films, some of which will be screened at the record release show. "So much of it is about survival and friendship that we’re not gonna quit," Maring said. "It’s a reason to live."

GRASS WIDOW With Ty Segall. Thurs/23, 8 p.m., $5. Artists’ Television Access, 992 Valencia, SF. (415) 864-3890.>.