Saw Marnie Stern live Friday night in Charlotte, NC at this dive bar called Snug Harbour. Stern was far less imposing than I had assumed. For some reason the artwork for her sophomore LP on Kill Rock Stars, This Is It…, makes her seem lanky and tall. In person, she’s a tiny little thing, but, man, can she tear it up on guitar. Her tapping is not exactly a new technique, as one Edward Van Halen will attest, but the context in which she uses it is bizarrely refreshing. She would loop an intro, play rhythm for a bit, then loop that, and then tap over loops of everything, while her drummer was going absolutely berserk on the kit in furious, jazz-inflected runs. It’s extremely hard to keep all that stuff straight, much less stay in time with mechanized multiple loops. Her music is a proggy mix of metal, punk, and sugar-coated pop. Stern’s voice is saccharine and clean, often sounding innocent and girlish, even when she’s angry. It also didn’t hurt that she’s ridiculously cute, making the entire room full of wannabe indie rock guitar players swoon.