Flowing rocker-dude locks? Check. Acid-washed jean jackets? Yes. Searing rendition of the speed-metal classic “Creeping Death”? Metallica rules! Wait, was its lead singer always a 19-year-old girl?
Gina Gleason — vocalist and lead guitarist of the tribute band Misstallica — makes a convincing James Hetfield. This is a testament to her shredding, since she’s not wearing a costume. The four ladies of the Philadelphia-based group — who range in age from 16 to 26 — aim to capture the metal essence of Metallica, which comes pretty naturally.
“This is how we dress every day anyway,” Gleason explains. “If you look at Metallica in the ’80s, they’re just wearing old jeans and rockin’ it out. We try to keep it old-school.”
Metal fans will be glad to hear that this means high fidelity to Metallica’s first four records: “Kill ‘Em All,” “Ride the Lightning,” “Master of Puppets” and “…And Justice For All.” The group plays nothing produced later than 1988.
“We love all Metallica, of course,” Gleason says. “But a lot of people are not too fond of that later stuff.” So, no lighters hoisted for the 1991 ballad “The Unforgiven”?
“No. We would not play that,” she deadpans. “We would also not play ‘Enter Sandman.'”
This purist approach has been winning the group loyal fans since it formed three years ago at Philly’s School of Rock, a music program for kids ages 7 to 18 in which bassist Teddi Tarnoff was an instructor and the rest of the band were students. Since then, the group has toured the East Coast and made its way across the U.K. twice. Misstallica will hit the West Coast later this year, potentially doing some dates with the L.A.-based Iron Maidens — an all-female tribute to Iron Maiden.
Opening Friday’s show at Sonar in Baltimore will be Queen Diamond, a band featuring three members of Misstallica that channels the ’80s shock-rock stylings of King Diamond. That means that most of the bands’ members play two full sets, one after the other, “which makes for an interesting night.”
“We have sort of a rivalry,” Gleason says. “Queen Diamond will come on and trash-talk Misstallica: ‘They suck!'”
Sonar, 407 E. Saratoga St., Baltimore; Fri., 8 p.m., $12; 410-783-7888, Sonarbaltimore.com.