Anthology sits on a corner behind a Cam’s Pizzeria downtown, relatively inconspicuous.
Once you get inside, the music venue — Rochester’s latest — is less unassuming. It’s all sprawling beiges and browns, with its name emblazoned in large, metal letters across the wall behind the bar. Lighting comes from circular fixtures suspended from the ceiling, which make the room seem like some minimalist royal court with light bulbs instead of candles, tinging everything warm.
Anthology fits into its corner of Rochester, but it also seems to be reaching away from it. Its modernist warehouse setup recalls venues like Brooklyn’s newly established Brooklyn Steel. It seems to yearn for something specific — a big city feel while being unmistakably local. It toes that line well, something reflected in one recent night’s bill.
Three of that Saturday’s four acts were local bands: The Demos, which advertises “GIRLS, FAST CARS…AND GIRLS” as influences, the “CrazySexyCreepy” female-fronted Kopps, and hometown favorite Joywave as the headliner.
That lineup can’t be found outside of Rochester, and even if it were, it wouldn’t feel the same. It’s the heart of the city beating for itself.
Anthology’s yearning for something a little more manifested in a third opener, Utah’s all-girl, all-power pop, The Aces.
They came on stage after The Demos, and the mood shifted. Four girls, two tuning guitars, one behind the drum set, one wearing a pantsuit and an Absolut Vodka t-shirt.
It’s no secret that women in music have a hard time being taken seriously, especially during shows. In my experience, girl bands generally have an air of just not giving a shit, and armed with the release of summer’s EP “I Don’t Like Being Honest,” The Aces did not.
“Is that a girl band?” the man behind me asked, bewildered.
Yes, it was.
Lead vocalist Cristal Ramirez launched into the set eagerly and dynamically, leading the crowd into a singalong during “Physical” and initiating a synchronized sway with guitarist Katie Henderson and bassist McKenna Petty through the unreleased “Volcanic Love.”
The Aces came across as a middle-ground between Haim and The 1975, bubbly, sparkling, not innovative but still sweet. They moved with an air of self-assurance, a pulsing joy that came through in their performance of the melodic “Baby Who” and the thirsting “Stuck,” both of which swam in harmony and unabashed pop conventions.
Ramirez’s vocals were smooth, undergirded with a slight throaty rasp, puncturing every lyric with a very clear intent, enhanced by her sister Alisa Ramirez’s slamming of drums.
“Now you want me bad / But I don’t want you back / Baby who?”
They stood out on the bill the way Anthology stands out in the city. The sense of familiarity — in the case of The Aces, this takes shape in their pop, female empowerment — coupled with a hope for higher heights.
It all feels genuine because it isn’t hidden. It doesn’t need to be.