I'd spoken to Glori5 guitarist Leighton Mann by phone several times before I saw the band perform. He's soft spoken — a downright respectful intellectual. I hadn't met his wife, Jennifer Albaum, until right before the band went onstage, and she, too, seemed unexpectedly virtuous, standing on the Blind Pig's booze-saturated floor in her girly purple dress, cowboy boots, and pixie haircut.
Then they got onstage. The two of them and a woman named Elvis launched into tight, demonic, driving guitar chords. Leighton even started roaring into the microphone as if possessed. It was deeply guttural and tribal. And it was, at least to my ears, perfectly executed.
I've always wondered how folks can head-bang while playing the hell out of those guitars. At one point Elvis was playing one-handed while chugging her beer. I pointed out to my friend what she was doing, and I screamed into his ear, "She looks like a partyer." He looked up. "She looks like a woman that would kick my ass to me."
Punctuating the guitar chords on many songs were intense stops. (Some guy who was taking pictures while drinking beer straight out of a pitcher yelled "Oy!" during one of them.) Later, when I asked a deceivingly ordinary-looking Leighton about his stops, he said, "We do that a lot. Our drummer, Brian, is pretty good. He can remember when to stop. Drummers sometimes just go crazy and not want to stop, but he's really good."
Actually, all the members of Glori5 are really good, accomplished musicians who've played in various bands independently or together over the years. They aren't just polite; they have maturity and poise that comes from years of experience and teaching geometry.
Yes, teaching geometry. That's what Jennifer does at EMU. Plus she runs her own business in Ypsilanti, Henrietta Fahrenheit, which carries "funky" items made by independent designers, or private labels. And Leighton does the booking for the Elbow Room. His tireless networking and dedication have elevated that dingy little pool hall to nearly-famous status in a few short years.
Leighton is also quite a zealot when it comes to promoting chick rock, so I asked why it's important to him that girls play rock 'n' roll. "Because we're getting only half an opinion in most 'rock,'" he answered. "And the dichotomy of perceptions pitting female lightness versus 'rock's' harshness is interesting. One of the coolest bands I ever saw was a group of girls in sundresses who set up onstage, then proceeded to play the harshest speed-metal I've ever heard. Yes, it was partially a visual trick, but there's more to having a female presence than appearance in any band. It's easy for guys to wank around about guy crap, but if there's another point of view or leading presence, it makes it much more interesting for the music."
Glori5 is at the Blind Pig on Friday, October 3.