The Reno, Nevada-based leader of power pop outfit Blunderbusst has never been to Norman and is uncertain if she's ever been in the Sooner State at all. That's about to change for vocalist/guitarist Jen Scaffidi who performs at 9 p.m. Wednesday at Red Brick Bar, 311 E. Main St.
Scaffidi will present a singer/songwriter-style set opening for San Antonio's "The March Divide." She will play from Blunderbusst's new EP "Monarch of the Mountain."
"I'll be performing solo which is more intimate than the full band experience," Scaffidi said. "But it will still be plenty psychedelic and shoe-gazey. I like to think of it as a closer look at what the band does when it's just me. Sometimes we describe ourselves as 'noise pop.' Not having a bass player sometimes makes it like a shoegaze band's wall of guitars with no one holding the rhythm down which can get a bit noisy."
Scaffidi is an early 40-something who has been leading rock trio Blunderbusst since 2004. The band had a recent five-year lull. They came back strong with six new songs that Scaffidi wrote for the EP on 7-inch vinyl released by Slow Start Records. The critical response and fan reaction have been positive and encouraging. Scaffidi's vocals are enchantingly soothing. What she describes as noise pop is more jangly delight than raucous racket. Scaffidi likes what she's doing now.
"We were on hiatus for a few years mostly because I wasn't writing anything," Scaffidi said. "Writing again has felt really good. There was a moment there when we thought, should we even be playing live shows. Would anyone even care? The thing that has been most fun with this phase of the band has been that people are responding to it. Not only are people hearing the records and liking it, whether it's full-band or solo shows they're liking those, too.
"Where the world is seeming more hostile and scarier than it did during our last go around, the shows seem like a place where people can come together. A safe place for people to have feelings and emotions, which may be joy or even grief. It's not unusual for people to come up after shows and say 'I cried in the middle of your set.'
"It's not my goal to make people cry but to genuinely connect with strangers at the beginning of the night and are friends when it's over. So it has been a really incredible experience. You have to be wide open and vulnerable in front of a roomful of strangers. You're leaving yourself open for rejection which doesn't feel good."
Scaffidi's bandmates are drummer Carolyn Gates and Carson Cessna on guitar and synthesizer.
"Carolyn has been my friend for over 20 years," she said. "She has the best, goofiest sense of humor, is a stellar mom, super-professional and a rock solid drummer. Carson has been in the band 8 years and has really increased our sonic perspective. He's good at introducing us to new music that's going to inspire us. I rely on both of them to keep my ego and ideas in check."
Scaffidi described the lyrical themes in her compositions as concerning two fascinating life topics.
"We always say that all our songs are about sex and death," she said. "A lot of what we're exploring in the new record comes from being a little older. Part of that comes from the question, are the voices of rock n roll only for people under a certain age. To be talking about things such as death of a parent, divorce or the fear of your own mortality.
"I have friends who have had heart attacks and been diagnosed with cancer. Looking that in the face and talking about it the same way as what you experienced in your early 20s. It comes down to still wanting to be loved. It has felt really good and I think that's why people are responding to it. People everywhere are afraid of death and being alone. I feel like I'm only becoming the person I'm supposed to be now, and it's pretty exciting."