In rounding off a string of Southern California dates, Veruca Salt unleashed its saccharine-laced and hard-hitting version of power pop on Velvet Jones Friday night. With a slew of enthusiastic opening acts, including touring companions Poets and Pornstars, Veruca Salt emerged in the early hours of Saturday morning and charged through its set to a somewhat thinned assembly. But that didn’t stop the faithful-many of whom made the pilgrimage from Los Angeles-from fisting the air, hollering their approval, and defiantly chanting for the band’s mid ’90s career catalyst “Seether.”
The fact that the band decided to neglect “Seether” speaks platitudes about its continued allegiance to non-conformity. The group formed in the early ’90s when Louise Post met cowriter Nina Gordon and the latter’s departure just prior to the new millennium led to a number of different members since then. With Post and longtime guitarist Stephen Fitzpatrick now joined by drummer Kellii Scott and bassist Nicole Fiorentino, the band has settled into a cohesive and vibrant entity.
The now-complete foursome charged their way through a set of both old and new at the finale to their So Cal tour. Opening with the schizophrenic “Save You” from their most recent recorded venture, IV, the band then launched into the irrepressible “Born Entertainer,” followed by a monumental rendition of “Shutterbug.” Fitzpatrick dropped to his knees and sacrificed his guitar to his amplifier. Scott’s drums pounded and Fiorentino’s bass grumbled in discontent. All the while, Post expelled her lyrics with a seductive brattiness.
Throughout the set, the stage antics were as overstated as the riffs. There were strum circles and bass solos and air fisting. But, unlike some who occupied the stage throughout the night, Veruca Salt’s musical pedigree lent substance to the antics. The crowds might be a little smaller these days, but Veruca Salt always gives its all. And, as proved by the fans who grumbled about not hearing “Seether” as they spilled onto State Street at the end of the night, it’s still beholden to none.