Don’t Overlook The Little Giantess: A Review of the Live Show at South Stage Cellars
“People sometimes like to ask what kind of music we play,” says Tess Minnick, the voice behind The Giantess. “I like to say, ‘dramatic.’” She proves it by singing seductively about a variety of intriguing topics, such as breaking up with Facebook, getting high, and anticipating murder in her home.
At their November 23 show, I’m eager to spend a couple hours relaxing at one of Minnick’s performances; this one at South Stage Cellars in Jacksonville.
The Giantess is the full four-piece band; tonight’s show is half of them, though, a duo called The Little Giantess, made up of Minnick and guitarist Rob Gunderson. When I first saw their website, I was intrigued by the artwork, which depicts the singer almost like a seductive, tattooed “Jessica Rabbit” type with little devils on her back; a sexy, sultry songbird, known to croon through a vintage microphone. I pictured a low lit, smoky, and mysterious venue as the setting for her performance; something a bit aloof. But when I arrived at South Stage Cellars, I realized I was 180 degrees off. Instead, the atmosphere was casual, well lit, social and friendly—and the performers emulated this vibe too, being right by the front door, casually dressed and on the same level as the audience.
Voted best band in the 2019 Messenger’s readers’ poll, The Giantess—or, in this evening’s case, The Little Giantess—proved why they have so much community support. They are easy-going and approachable, and, perhaps more critical to their expanding fandom, Minnick’s voice is truly astounding; silky smooth, but sometimes soaring, she earnestly sings “Give It On Back” with a yearning voice that is somehow all at once husky and seductive, yet also clear as a bell. Her style pairs well with the precision-based guitar skills of bandmate Gunderson. The music itself is enjoyable, straight-forward, easy-going blues-based rock.
She gets candid with her audience, casually bringing up the fact that the band used to be a cover band with zero original songs, but explains now it is all original work and zero covers. She goes on to introduce “420 Blues” by saying it’s for those “that have drama in their lives” and then proceeds to finger snap during the intro, singing, “I just wanna get a little high and go to bed.”
It is obvious she has immense talent; she not only has a voice that melts butter, but also one she can manipulate so that it either sounds like a guitar’s swelling endnote or so that it has a muted trumpet effect. Sometimes it seems as though her voice vibrates to the point where it sounds like more than one. She wistfully (and appropriately) scat-sings in “Ella,” and then ends the tune with such ease in abrupt finality it almost sounds like stopping during a rehearsal.
More than once Minnick assures the audience that her song about murder, “Bearface’s Revenge,” is “totally danceable”—and she’s right! With her trademark honey-tongued delivery, almost like a goth celebrating the subject of death, she sings “I sleep with one eye open…there’s been a murder in my house…I know the worst is yet to come.”
Alongside this singing is something nearing stand-up. She croons “Whoa is me” repeatedly, and then sings of misery before informing the audience that the song is “the inner monologue of my cat.”
The Giantess will perform at Grape Street Bar and Grill, 31 S Grape St., Medford, Friday, Dec. 13, 9 pm.