Suddenly, Tammy! - Fred Wilenius

CONCERT REVIEW: Suddenly, Tammy! , Lancaster, PA December 23

- Fred Wilenius

I finally got a chance to see one of the more interesting, and unusual bands of recent years, Suddenly, Tammy! Sadly - through no fault of the band - things did not turn out quite as I hoped. Picture this probably all-too familiar scene - the band you really want to see is playing an all-ages show at a normally off-limits to under-21's rock club. So, the place is full of school kids more interested in showing off bad haircuts and parading around in circus tent size jeans than listening to the band. Guitar bands can usually manage to drown out the noise of disinterested audiences but Suddenly, Tammy! are a piano-led trio - no guitar in sight, fronted by Beth Sorrentino's strident but still waif-like vocals. From the moment they hit the stage, it was clear they didn't stand a chance; no way were they ever going to rise above a crowd of juveniles whose only real interest was each other.

Fortunately, the band's performance was not a complete waste of time. Returning to their Lancaster, PA, home base - no doubt coupling the gig with a break for the holidays - the Tammy's! showcased new songs from their forthcoming third album and threw in a selection from the first two, much to the delight of those of us who were paying attention. The new numbers are in much the same vein as those on the previous albums, slightly jazzy, off-kilter but melodic pop songs which require some listening. None of the songs received an introduction, but the new ones all augur well for the forthcoming album, which the band said would be out midway through'98.

Despite Beth's keyboard work and vocals being almost inaudible at times, especially on the acoustic numbers, what did penetrate through the hubbub was quite good. They write catchy songs and once you atune to Beth's vocal style, it's a rare treat as the encore of "Deck the Halls" proved. From the 1995 promotional EP Shut Up It's Christmas, it is as fine a paean to the holiday season as you are ever likely to hear. Even though this was not the most auspicious homecoming, they are a fine band who were poorly served by their home crowd; it was still a treat to finally get to see them at long last. But be warned: try and see them at a venue with either good acoustics or an attentive audience - preferably both!