In her original career as an actress, Juliette Lewis played bad girls in such films as "Natural Born Killers." Now she's adapted the same role to music, as the frontwoman of a punky rock band called Juliette & the Licks. Tuesday night at the Black Cat, Lewis gave a robust performance, but the script was lacking.
Prowling the stage in a pair of tight, red, belly-revealing, space-age pj's, Lewis lacked neither energy nor shtick. She threw herself to the stage, wrapped the microphone cord tightly around her neck, curled her arm and licked the biceps, and sang with her mouth inches from the face of one of the band's two guitarists. During her final number, Lewis launched herself into the crowd, whose members obligingly held her over their heads until she was pulled back to the stage. As all this was happening, Lewis didn't deliver a single memorable tune.
The Licks' drummer is Patty Schemel, but Lewis is a more conventional rocker than Schemel's previous employer, Courtney Love. The band's songs were energetic but predictable Stooges and Sex Pistols knockoffs, and the lyrics -- to the extent they were discernible -- seemed to blend standard punk attitude with a jigger of self-help sermonizing. (Lewis is a Scientologist, and one of her songs is titled "Shelter Your Needs.'') While the set was a triumph of Method acting, Lewis's material needs another rewrite.
-- Mark Jenkins