Bully at Cactus Club: A Review

Bully played at Cactus Club on Tuesday, Jan. 19, accompanied by tour mates Fake Limbs that served as the opener. Perhaps an unlikely pair, as Fake Limbs’ almost theatrically boisterous presence was countered by the paradoxical subdued aggression of Bully.

If you’re unfamiliar with Bully, it is a punk-y, grungy alt-rock group formed by audio engineer, vocalist and guitar player Alicia Bognanno in Nashville. And, yes–she’s as impressive as she sounds. Bully released a self-titled EP back in 2014, then its debut record “Feels Like” in June 2015. The best way I can describe Bully is loud, but not too loud, angry, but not too angry, catchy, but not too catchy, with elements 90s grunge, punk, and all the bells and whistles of a successful contemporary alt-rock band. Although this description might make Bully come across as cookie cutter, its just that damn good and accessible. Maybe it would be cookie cutter without Bognanno’s killer voice.

That scream. Her voice, undoubtedly (and probably perpetually) her biggest draw, is as sweet and charming as it is dark and loud. What I loved about Bognanno at Cactus Club is that she totally spits on society’s interpretation of femininity and makes it her own. She sang every released track from “Feels Like” and, I believe, its EP, along with a few other covers. Listening near the stage, I was equally inclined to close my eyes and daydream as I was to head bang. She’s really that good.

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