The four young New York women who comprise Luscious Jackson brought an adolescent girl’s approach to performance at the Academy — a refreshingly uncalculated style that runs contrary to their hard, often harsh, sound and message. But their tour opener was a classic case of insurmountable sound problems cutting the evening off at the knees.
Overwhelming bass and annoying reverb shook the upper seats of the dilapidated Academy Theater, drowning out the lyrics and leaving only grinding guitar, fancy keyboards and energetic drumming.
Gabrielle Glaeser’s haughty metallic voice cleared the noise in several places — particularly on “Deep Shag” and “Strong Man”– providing a fleeting moment of enjoyment. Jill Cunniffe and Viv Trimble were inaudible when singing solo, only in harmonies with Glaeser anchoring would they come through.
Cunniffe and Glaeser emit an earthy sexuality on stage, yet are by far the tougher of the band, emulating the wide-set legs and head thrashing of traditional hard rockers.
In contrast, Trimble played it cool, posing childlike behind her board and raising a hand to cover a sly smile after each song. Schellenbach worked hard but was never a focal point.
Oddly, the sound problems didn’t phase Luscious Jackson, which stuck with material from their “Natural Ingredients” disc. They raced through 15 songs in a little over an hour, including a fun piece with Glaeser exhaling heavily into the mike and asking audience to scream until directed to stop, and a bluesy interlude that built nicely through Cunniffe’s speedy guitarwork and Trimble’s keyboards.