The Tigerellas: Roaring Back
Melanie Vammen Re-Convenes the Pandoras Coven
Los Angeles has always been the epicenter of female-powered rock & roll. From the Runaways, Go Go’s and Bangs to Go Betty Go, Bombon and the Linda Lindas, this filthy town consistently produces a reliably wild yield of hard rocking women. Foremost among these is Melanie Vammen, who was drafted into mid-80s garage rock princesses the Pandoras while still in high school. This initiated a fuzz-Vox saga of Olympian proportions, fraught with exult and tragedy, a lush, raunchy legacy which will revive, after a fashion, when Vammen and her core former Pandoras (Karen Basset, Sheri Kaplan Weinstein, Hillary Burton) will perform as the Tigerellas at downtown Los Angeles’ Redwood Bar and Grill on Fri., June 3.
But leave us not get ahead of ourselves.
Pandoras leader Paula Pierce was an electrifying provocateur who shrewdly blended classic big beat lexicon with a taut strain of weaponized sexploitation, and with her blindingly blond mane and hyper-salacious stage patter, Pierce kept the group’s formidable contingent of geekboy fans wound up to frenzy pitch. The Pandoras potent mixture of high-voltage concupiscence and high-quality rock & roll made for a mad, mad musical tilt-a-whirl experience, quite unlike the comparatively low-key approach of her Paisley Underground colleagues and executed at an elevated level far above their contemporary garage rock competitors.
Infamously volatile, Peirce was constantly looking out to improve the band. The teenage Vammen, a strikingly high-profile habitué of the Hollywood mod set, did not escape Pierce’s attention.
“I was in high school, I was 16 when I met her—imagine being subjected to Paula Pierce!” Vammen said. “She kept coming up to me at clubs, asking if I played an instrument, if I wanted to join the Pandoras. . .