The Waitresses have gone about as far as they can go with their silly hit, "I Know What Boys Like," and their silly idea of having a guy write songs from a woman's point of view.
At their show at the 9:30 club last night, the songwriter, Chris Butler, was gone as well as most of the original band. Nonetheless, the band's focal point--lead singer Patty Donahue--was there singing Butler songs in her petulant, coy and utterly self-aware fashion.
The band still mixes quirky instrumental passages led by a squawking saxophone in their otherwise predictable pop format. More than ever, this band's jazz-rock fusion music seemed at odds with Donahue's attempts to fill us in on problems in the world of modern women. Donahue's chatty, tuneless delivery hardly helped: this was adult new music at its nadir--overly clever and contrived, and still desperate for radio play.
A much more challenging integration of pop conventions and experimentalism was provided by Chris Stamey, the opening act. His Beatlelike melodies were casually subverted by his band's unpredictable electronic and percussive breaks. Stamey's best songs, however, were at once seductive and disconcerting.