Sad Girl Justice

IMG_9837What was your chatroom username back in the day? Maybe you went with a super chill CODchick123, or perhaps a more badass Sk8erboiAnarchy365

In the case of this sugar-punk rock group, it’s Sad13.

It’s December 2nd and Sad13 of the band Speedy Ortiz, (previously hosted by, is about to perform their livestream in the “Secret Bunker.”

Pressure is an unconventional music organization that finds new and original artists to livestream in offbeat places — specifically chosen for the artist’s sound.

The creator of Sad13, Sadie Dupuis — rocking glitter eyeshadow and big hair scrunchies on her wrist — begins the set with mistakes. She cues the computer beat and out comes a brief — Boom Bah CUT. She apologizes and jokes, “That was our first song.” She tries again — Boom Bah CUT — the same musical mishap, twice. “That was our second song.” The other members are relaxed, they seem unfazed and chuckle at the singer. If “three times a charm” has any validity at all, this should be the try that triggers the music.

And it does! The song erupts in an upbeat melody while Sadie claps her hands into the mic and loops the sound. I immediately think to dub their music “pop,” but that would be selling it short. The song is intriguing in the way that it moves and transforms. It oscillates between happy and predictable then dips down to a sharp, uncomfortable center — like a lollipop from one too many licks.

Dupuis’s ultra-girly voice is susceptible to flashes of hysteria, the guitar unabashedly scratches away at discordant riffs, and the lyrics fearlessly drop this sort of message:

I say yes to the dress when I put it on/ I say yes if I want you to take it off.”


“You still wanna lick my asshole, man.”

There’s no mistaking Sad13 for your typical top 40 pop-band.

The easy-on-the-ears synth guitar and sickly sweet vocals give the music a sort of “I want to be popular, pretty, glamorous and wanted” feel, but it seems things always go amuck; the drums have a thrash attack, the synth gets bitter and starts wildly chucking notes around to distort your senses, and that oh-so-girly voice starts to convulse and the whole damn facade falls apart.

No one ever said being yourself was easy, and Sad13 is musical proof of that.

The bunker is decked out with dangling, dim lights, colorful streamers and dark punk posters on the walls; there couldn’t be a set more fitting for this band. As I watch them play, I can’t help but feel I’m witnessing a bunch of prom queens toss out their tiaras and go completely mad together, in the privacy of their basement hangout spot.

It’s almost like they are performing their diaries — maybe in some alternate reality, to avoid people’s stares. I take a look at the guitarist sporting some VR looking sunglasses and my hypothesis feels even more concrete. 

They may be regular, fleshy humans, chalk full of normalities in real life, but when they are united, they are a kickass team of chatroom superheroes, using their instruments of choice to fight for #sadgirljustice.

Their livestream is short and sweet, just 20 minutes, but they get their point across — Don’t mess with my heart or my head, I’m not what you’re expecting.

“Thank you!” the lead singer squeals delightedly. “Sad13. So happy! So tacos!” They all laugh with some sort of taco-fueled, superhero wisdom and strip themselves of their weapons.


Lovin’ the Taste of #TerryMaltsLive

The warehouse of Timbuk2 is big and open with natural light tossing itself in through the abundance of windows.

On the wall I notice a painting of a giant flower: kaleidoscopic, multicolored and sharp-edged, much like the group performing in front of it.

Once the band gear was locked, loaded and ready to fire — Terry Malts was given the green light.

Their first song, “Come to Find You,” begins with Nathan Sweatt, the group’s drummer, walloping a heavy beat on the tom and snare — I feel my heart thudding along to the dense and energetic intro. Next, a high pitched scream from the guitar of Correy Cunningham; the sound gradually falls and lands on a tight, fast rhythm. And finally, the thumping of bass, accompanied by Phil Benson opening his mouth to release a deep ripple of vocal vibrato.

As the noise increases, I notice a curious outsider cupping their hands around their eyes and pressing their face against the window to get a glimpse of what in the hell this glorious event is all about.

I’ll let you in on the secret: It’s about the camera capturing a parade of picks on the string’s taut, shifting rhythms, Benson smiling casually because – let’s face it – these guys are so on point with their sound! They play with an effortlessness that only comes from hours of painstaking practice in a room together. A repetition of the lyrics “I’m neurotic,” finds a snug place in your brain to hang out for awhile.

How do these musical blokes distinguish themselves from all the other musical blokes? In the case of Terry Malts, it’s definitely their ability to conjure the right bit of mania in that screeching guitar and rolling drum, but also to hold it down low for an easy listening experience by the recumbent croon of Phil Benson’s voice.

The crowd cheers after each song, but the group seems to pay no mind and jumps face-first into the next jam — that, right there, is true musical comfort. With their upbeat, accessible rhythms and elevating melodies, it isn’t hard to imagine Terry Malt’s audience rallying their lovin’ bones to these tunes.

The group performs their song “Gentle Eyes,” and their lyrics, “I know I’m hard to read / at times I’m cold as ice / but when you’ve had enough / you still give me gentle eyes,” bring about the sensation of purity and taintedness — like even if I’m not exactly a perfectly shiny person, you’ll still dig me. A spanking of splendid, if you will. This moves you even further into the uniquely boisterous, punked-out, heart-wrenching style that is Terry Malts.

“…Blink of an eye and the curtains close…”

When they finally take a moment to stop playing music, the band says something jokey about cat piss and then nonchalantly moves on to admit to their lack of presence in the last few years. Guitarist, Cunningham, claims, “#TerryMaltsLive — We’re not dead, we’re alive!” They all have a quick laugh, then dive back into it, almost ironically, with the beginning lyrics “I’m no good for you.”

As the music plays on and the time starts running out, I say a silent prayer that it won’t. The fresh environment and lo-fi, poppy sounds have me wanting more. Not only is the music fun and addicting, the setting itself is just as enticing.

But alas, all good things (shouldn’t) come to an end.

They complete their live set with “I Could Be Happy,” a very fitting Altered Image cover. The lead singer wipes the well-deserved sweat from his brow and tosses a “That’s all she wrote” at the crowd before walking away. 

…But that’s not entirely true. “Terry Malts” has heaps of music waiting to bless your ears. After this treat of a performance, you know you want to check out the rest. Oh! and be sure to follow — #TerryMaltsLive.