Lez Rock #039;n#039; Roll

by Beacon Staff • April 9, 2008

A Led Zeppelin cover band from New York City has finally added something to the performance of Led's epic songs that even the reanimated corpse of drummer John Bonham could not: breasts. Equally feminine vocal styling makes Lez Zeppelin, the "All Girl" ensemble, much more than a gimmick. Lez Zeppelin will appear downstairs at the Middle East on April 11. Doors open at 9 p.m.

The attention the group has received is more than just because of their gender. There is plenty of competition for the group, with cover bands such as Dread Zeppelin, Fred Zeppelin and even another all-female group Mz Led. These groups, however, only prove that what really sets Lez apart is their serious dedication to recreating the music as Led performed it, note for note.

Frontwoman Sarah McLellan does justice to the vocals of Robert Plant by not stretching beyond the limitations of her own vocal cords in songs like "Dazed and Confused." Guitarist Steph Paynes even has a physical similarity to Jimmy Page when performing her interpretation of his epic bow solo in the same song. Backed by drummer Helen Destroy and bassist Lisa Brigantino, the group achieves both a sound and a stage presence stronger than any other cover, best represented by their version of the "The Ocean." This track, without McLellan's strong but distracting vocals, proves that these girls have the arrangement chops to compose their own music.

True Led fans in search of the live experience cannot help but turn to the Lez lifestyle, because even without a curly blonde wig, or a well-placed roll of quarters, these four women offer a more authentic performance than any of the alternatives. They provide a dose of nostalgia for the music festival experience in Led's day, and their devotion has earned Lez a spot on the line-up for June with ticket sales beginning at $209.50.

Controversy broke out over the announcement of Lez's presence at a festival when The Associated Press and Chicago Sun-Times, among other news outlets, ran "Lez" as "Led" and bumped the group up to headliner status. Some of Lez's popularity comes from similar confusion, evident in customer comments for their self-titled album on the iTunes Store. One comment said, "I was downloading some music and did not read the cover. But later I listened to the music and I said to myself: this is a female singer, what a voice this person has, what a good job they did."

The eponymous first album was released in July 2007 with help from producer, Eddie Kramer. Kramer has received audio engineering credits for the original Led albums Houses of the Holy and Physical Graffiti, bringing Lez Zeppelin a step closer in their quest for ultimate fan status if not outright musical legitimacy. The Lez album features eight tracks of tribute to their namesake, including "Kashmir," "Whole Lotta Love" and "On The Rocks." But for most, Lez is a pleasant alternative to a night at home with their vinyl collections.