Bully’s Electric Night at Teragram Ballroom: A Dive into “Lucky For You” Review+Photos: Bully & Bev Rage at Teragram Ballroom 8/23/23
LOS ANGELES, CA- On August 23, 2023, the Teragram Ballroom reverberated with the haunting melodies of Bully, predominantly steered by the talented Alicia Bognanno. They presented tracks from their fourth studio album, Lucky For You. The night was not just about music; it was a profound dive into Bognanno’s evolution, painting a vivid tapestry of loss and introspection that touched the very core of every attendee.
I’m a big fan of Bully. There’s something about the gritty timbre of Alicia’s growl that get’s the blood moving in my veins. As soon as I pressed play on Lucky For You, and Alicia’s voice growled out, “Polly’s got a psychic says she’ll talk to you” on the opening track “All I Do”, I knew this was going to be another album that would be getting plenty of spins in the following months.
The more I listened to the album, the more I paid attention to the lyrics Alicia was singing. When you know that Luck For You was written during a period in time when she was mourning the loss of Mezzi, her beloved dog, you realized songs like “A Wonderful Life” and “A Profound Love” are autobiographical… and heartbreaking. As a person whose dog passed away after 13 beautiful years, the lyrics in those songs hit me harder than I thought they would. She’s singing of primal emotions. Loss. It’s universal. Ironically, these particularly emotional songs that speak to me most have the fewest listens on Spotify. Maybe her audience hasn’t experienced loss like that before. Everyone get there though. It’s inevitable.
Taking a significant detour from her conventional DIY approach, Bognanno chose to collaborate with the Nashville producer, JT Daly, for “Lucky For You.” As noted by many, the album ventures into the realm of early 2000s pop-rock, echoing the likes of contemporary sensations such as Olivia Rodrigo. While some critiques arose regarding the album’s production– an opinion that I totally disagree with- the Teragram performance beautifully bridged any perceived divide between studio recording and raw onstage magnetism.
The Teragram came alive with the raucous garage-pop sounds of Chicago-based Bev Rage & The Drinks. Opening for Bully, their vibrant set was not only a musical treat but also a visual spectacle, a kaleidoscope of color and kitsch.
Leading the troupe was Beverly Rage, a towering drag queen with a charisma to match her height. The sight of her was enough to pique anyone’s curiosity, but when she brandished her guitar and her band began dishing out frenetic garage-rock with undercurrents of punk, they proved to be an extremely fun and exciting opening act.
Though I wasn’t familiar with the music, I thoroughly enjoyed the energy that they gave us. Strong and propulsive drums. Thick, steady bass lines. Killer riffs. And some killer, rocking drag. What’s not to enjoy?
The evening’s song list artfully combined nostalgic favorites and fresh tracks from “Lucky For You.” Tunes like “All I Do,” “Hard To Love,” and “Change Your Mind” stood out, gripping every listener. A particularly heart-wrenching moment was the performance of “Days Move Slow.” Crafted amidst Bognanno’s grief for her cherished dog, Mezzi, the song became a vessel for raw, potent emotion, captivating the audience. Bognanno’s unique ability to convert personal pain into powerful rock melodies was evident throughout.
The live performance of “Lose You,” a collaboration with Soccer Mommy, was especially magnetic. It felt like a sonorous embrace, underscoring Bognanno’s versatility as a musician. For their encore, Alicia performed a rendition of Jane’s Addiction’s “Jane Says” that hinted at Bully’s admiration for the rich heritage of alt-rock, before closing the evening with the first song of her that reached the masses, “Milkman”.
The concert was an intricate puzzle, revealing a matured, perhaps more delicate side of Bognanno. Seamlessly connecting her past with her present, both in terms of music and sentiment, it wove threads of passion and reflection. Bognanno’s unyielding voice, paired with the introspective themes of the night, solidified her stature in the alt-rock genre. One suggestion for future shows? Integrating an additional guitarist might enable Alicia to immerse herself fully in the performance, amplifying the intensity that fans have come to adore, especially when she’s free from guitar duties.