Sensory Overload: Bloodthirsty Virgins make sure the first time goes smoothly

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Considering how many firsts were involved when Bloodthirsty Virgins performed at Little Rock on a recent Thursday, the band’s moniker felt wholly appropriate.

The newborn crew, which included members Nikki Wonder (vocals/guitar), Scott Gorsuch (guitar), James Wooster (bass) and Keith Hanlon (drums), was making its live debut. Additionally, Wonder noted this was the first project she’s been involved in where she was responsible for writing all of her own material.

Despite the relative newness of the operation, the four musicians displayed veteran tact, working together to craft an Ennio Morricone-kissed rock ’n’ roll soundscape that played like the potential soundtrack to director Quentin Tarantino’s in-process western “The Hateful Eight.” This feel was further heightened by the group’s decision to cover Nancy Sinatra’s version of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” which Tarantino memorably deployed in his 2003 revenge flick “Kill Bill.”

Similar themes surfaced in the Virgins’ music, with Wonder taking on the femme fatale role as she veered between seduction (“I’m here holding on to you,” she cooed on one number) and retribution. On one slow burner that moved with a patient determination, like two gunslingers approaching a high noon duel, she vowed to bring a paramour to his knees.

At times, these sentiments bled together, and even supposedly comforting words occasionally carried an air of menace. “Hold me closer for a while,” Wonder sang at one point, her tone suggesting the end might be drawing near for at least one of the two.

Gorusch’s lone turn on the microphone, in contrast, allowed the musicians to explore a more fragile, tender side, with the guitarist owning up to being “just a man” on a tune that could’ve been penned from the viewpoint of one of Wonder’s victims.

Elsewhere, the quartet galloped into a rowdy “In the End,” which kicked up as much dust as a stampeding herd of cattle, and pulled back for a haunting, widescreen take on “Bang Bang.” The cinematic atmosphere carried over into the instrumental intro and outro, both plays on the theme from Sergio Leone’s 1968 classic “Once Upon a Time in the West,” with Gorsuch laying down burnished tangles of guitar that unfurled like tumbleweed rolling slowly across a desert landscape. It was an impressive debut, and it’ll be interesting to see what the crew does for an encore when it visits Spacebar on May 7.

Andy Downing photo