“Hi, we're famous,” announced one of the performers addressing the line outside of the Music Hall of Williamsburg at Saturday's Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls 2008 Showcase. “This is going to be awesome.” Having an act inform you of their fame is an ill portent at any show, but the awesomeness promised by the young lady was triumphantly delivered. There was shredding. There was head banging. And yes, there were drum solos. There were also braces, leg warmers, ponytails, and several mike stands standing at about three feet high. The early-afternoon showcase was the culmination of Willie Mae's intensive weeklong seminar in rockin' out. Emceed by the irrepressible, travel-size Cassidy Van Cooten (with only a little help from a staff member), the event displayed the talents of seventeen bands, most with rather innovative lineups.
The kids not only pulled off their accessories — sleeveless band tees, neckties, and fingerless gloves, all things better worn by kids dressing up as adults, and not the other way around — but their set was full of surprises. The high points: the Explosive Diamonds' guitar player effectively wrestling a Gretsch Chet Atkins bigger than she was, a chilling a cappella breakdown courtesy of the Nothingness, and Fairy Sandwich's four-fisted high-hat clang. The catchiest song was Girlz Like Boyz' party protest rant “Good-bye Mr. President,” which recalled for us the bratty, adolescent beat of L'Trimm. (The band stopped short of formally endorsing Obama, but their jam has “Raising McCain” soundly beat.) Common to many of the groups seemed to be the influence of the Shaggs, Hole, and … um, Thurston Moore and his tuneless drones … er, maybe something Indian? We've seen worse from Pratt students in bands. And aspiring indie rockers of all ages would do well to learn that when a live performance doesn't exactly jell, just smile big, throw candy, and raise those devil horns high.