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POP MUSIC REVIEWS : Fifth Column Delivers Message

October 24, 1994|LORRAINE ALI

Canada's original riot grrrls Fifth Column played raw pop-punk Saturday at Jabberjaw minus the bratty insolence that drives many of the feminist genre's newer pigtail-wearing bands.

The indie trio instead played with a subtle and earnest confidence. Though bumpier and rawer live than on album, the amateur-sounding set worked in the tiny club, and it was clear that great songs bubbled just underneath the buzzing ampage and shoddy sound system.

Caroline Azar, dressed in a tattered gingham dress and striped tights, sang in alternately stealthy and dramatic, vibrating tones. In more intense moments, passionate growls pierced her cool exterior and hit the attentive audience full force. She echoed the inane lines every women has heard ("C'mon smile, it can't be all that bad") with a sarcastic and dangerous edge.

The band, which included two supplemental members, squeezed onto the tiny stage, frequently blocking one another from the audience's view, but still managed to jump successfully between punk rampages, garage-y pop tunes and dark, disturbing slow numbers.

Though rough and choppy, Fifth Column got its message across without copping faux attitude and did it inside of strong songs--proving itself a rare and effective force.

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