A blissfully tired and wee-bit-emotional Sunday following what must be one of my very favourite LOUD WOMEN gigs of all time last night – our 4th birthday celebrations at the Hope & Anchor, with performances Hagar the Womb, Rabies Babies, The Menstrual Cramps, I, Doris, The Other Ones, and Smalltown Tigers. Pure punk rock mayhem, cake everywhere, clothes-swapping, crowd-surfing, all-grrl-mosh-pitting, wall to wall good vibes – we thoroughly birthdayed.
Hopefully someone will post some proper photos of the night, but in the meantime here’s my phone snaps!
Our lovely friend Tony Rounce was, of course, in attendance, and wrote this beautiful post about the evening that was too gorgeous not to share …
I’ve mentioned before that I believe we are living in a new Golden Age for live music.
Anyone doubting my word should have been at the Hope and Anchor last night for Loud Women’s 4th birthday party.
It was rammed to the roof, mind you, but you would have been most welcome and I’m sure a space would have opened up for you.
Five hours of fab bands from locations as far apart as Rimini and, er, Bristol.
Some of the best music you could have heard anywhere in the U.K. last night.
Some of the nicest people you could spend 5 hours in a room with.
All coming together to celebrate the fourth birthday of an impressive collective that exists to promote and further the cause of women/womxn/non-binary/LGBTQ+ in music.
In its four years Loud Women’s live profile has progressed from putting on small gigs in small rooms like the Hope to presenting probably the best and best organised one day annual festival on the planet – this year’s September event showcased 21 bands and singers in 10 hours across two adjacent venues in North London. LW has established itself internationally with overseas chapters across the globe, and has inspired many others across the U.K. to promote the regeneration and growth of a vibrant music scene.
My hat and my whole head is off to the indefatigable Cassie Fox for founding and maintaining the high profile of such a fantastic thing as LW. I am inordinately proud of my own very modest contributions to Team Loud Women as a writer and reviewer, and grateful for the opportunities to say nice things about nice people.
The ‘nice people’ on stage last night all brought plenty to the party, and I am delighted to have added The Other Ones and Italy’s Smalltown Tigers to the ever growing list of ‘bands I must see again in a hurry’. It’s a bit unfair to single anyone out for special commendation but the Menstrual Cramps – to my mind, one of the most important bands to have emerged in the last 40 years – were in unbeatable form (as they usually are, to be fair) and ignited an outbreak of pogoing the likes of which the Hope’s cellar probably hasn’t seen since the late 70s. My own pogoing days may be long gone, but I was there in spirit…
Props, too, to Rabies Babies, LW’s own delightful ‘in house’ combo I, Doris and a back from the dead but very much alive Hagar The Womb. They all did their bit to make the evening fun for one and all and it would have been that much less fun for the absence of any of them.
Oh, and I won the raffle. A couple of times! As sure as I’m a Doris I swear to you it wasn’t fixed…
These are great times to have catholic tastes in music. I’m glad that I still have the energy to be a part of what’s going on and, more importantly perhaps, to feel a part of it.
LW is doing God’s work and I am sure she’s totally impressed…
DIY collective Loud Women has been championing women in music since 2015 and on Saturday 12th October will be celebrating their 4th birthday with a gig at legendary Islington punk venue The Hope & Anchor with sets from Hagar The Womb, Rabies Babies, The Menstrual Cramps, I, Doris, The Other Ones, Mindframe and Smalltown Tigers.
We got in touch with LW’s Cassie Fox to talk about the upcoming anniversary and why, four years on we still need promoters like Loud Women on the DIY scene.
When did the idea of Loud Women first arise and why? Was there a particular incident that sparked it?It started as a one-off gig in 2015. Having played on the gig circuit for a little while, I was feeling frustrated at the amount of ‘man-band’heavy’ lineups all the time, and macho crowds. I was particularly tired of my all-female band always being the token women on the bill, and wanted to put on a fundraising gig with my friends’ bands that could be relaxed and inclusive and fun … so I did! Since then, a whole heap of media activity and community has organically grown around the events, but that ethos is still at the heart of what we do – putting on events full of awesome music and a no-bullshit atmosphere with womxn and non-binary people at the heart.Have you noticed any change in the representation and treatment of female musicians in the four years since LW began?On a small scale, yes – a bit! Certainly in the cosy bubble of the London gig circuit there seem to be loads of new opportunities for “bands who are not cis het white dudes” to play, with seemingly new promoters springing up every day, which is brilliant. Outside of London though, I’m still often told by touring bands playing LW gigs that it’s the first time in ages that they’ve not been the only women on a lineup. And outside of DIY music… there’s plenty of conversations being had about major festivals supporting female artists, but still very little noticeable difference in the gender balance on bigger stages.Can you take us back to the very first Loud Women gig? Who played and what was it like?It was 3rd October 2015 at the (sadly now closed) Silver Bullet in Finsbury Park. The headliners were Blindness (featuring our awesome friend Debbie Smith), with my then-band The Wimmins’ Institute, Argonaut, and Dream Nails. I didn’t know what to expect, and feared we’d be playing to an empty room … but was delighted to find the room full for the first band, Dream Nails, who were playing their first ever gig and had brought all their friends! It was the first time I’d been at a gig with a majority-female crowd – and oh the luxury of being 5’3″ and able to actually see the stage! There was a really fun atmosphere, and we raised a decent amount of money for Women’s Aid too. So it was a no-brainer to keep the momentum going and put on more gigs … and here we are!There have been hundreds of bands playing countless Loud Women shows over the past four years, are there any nights that particularly stick in your memory?The Little LOUD WOMEN gigs we’ve done for families have been by far my favourite! I’m a mum of two, and also a big kid myself, so I love any excuse to get extra glittery, get the balloons out, and start a little toddler moshpit! I loved seeing the kids enjoying music up close, invading the stage, seeing what the instruments feel like, and what their voices sound like down a microphone. And parents really appreciated getting to see ‘proper music’ without having to pay out for a babysitter. At one gig there was a particularly humbling moment when a little girl of about 9 grabbed the mic and gave an impromtu speech about how important it was for everyone to be included – I can’t wait to see if she reappears fronting a punk band in a few years!Aside from the gigs, what else has Loud Women been involved in?Our music blog loudwomen.org and monthly ezine have really taken off in the last few years, I’m really proud of those – we have a lot of contributors, so a lot of different voices and opinions and experiences, and they really help spread the word to audiences and influencers. We’ve also released compilation records – the latest of course being LOUD WOMEN Volume Two! Between the two albums there’s over 40 different bands – all killer – £5 each to you! loudwomen.bandcamp.com
With four years under your belts, what does LW have in store for the future? More of the same I guess, until there’s no need for LOUD WOMEN any more! Keep an eye on the LOUD WOMEN socials for news of exciting 2020 events …Loud Women’s 4th Birthday Party takes place on Saturday 12th October at The Hope & Anchor. More information and tickets, priced £8 + booking fee, can be found here.Check out Cassie’s Loud Women playlist featuring 49 artists who’ve played LW shows over the past four years:
This interview took place a few weeks ago, and sadly since then it’s been announced that Beth will no longer be playing with The Menstrual Cramps for practical reasons (but they’re all still best buds – this FB post explains it). Beth is cool with this interview still being published today though, and you can come say hello to her/wave/buy her a pint at LOUD WOMEN Fest this Saturday as she’s kindly stepped in to help our crew so look out for her in a groovy high vis vest!
Part-time solo artist and full-on Menstrual Cramp, Beth White has a lot to say! Beth White is a busy woman.
Having vacated the position of drummer for our beloved The Menstrual Cramps earlier this year, Beth now plays rhythm guitar and adds her voice to the group’s front line – a change that has added a further dimension to their always vibrant and totally compelling sound.
as being part of one of the best bands on the planet, Beth also has an
occasional solo career that she somehow manages to work around the group’s busy
Gregarious, outgoing and all-round good person that she is, Beth was only too happy to submit to LOUD WOMEN’s 10 Question Interview, upfront of TMCs’ upcoming appearance at LOUD WOMEN Fest 4. Here’s what she had to say:
1. How do you find time to create your own music while being a full member of one of the busiest and most popular bands out there?
To be honest, the vast majority of my material was written during the ages of around 13 to 19 – new songs can occasionally fall out while I’m practicing but these days I don’t usually set out to write an entire song – initial ideas might come out and I’ll work on them at a later time. Sometimes if I’m really lucky, a really good idea or hook will fall out of me that makes me need to write a whole new tune from start to finish then & there. I love when that happens.
As a teen I used song writing as an outlet for pretty much any emotion I felt, so I have a repertoire of about 50-plus songs at my disposal from that time! I’m bad with dating my songs but I must have written at least 15 more between the end of that time & now.
Lately I’ve felt it’s been a shame I’ve not ever been 100% happy with any demo records I’ve made throughout the years, so I’m finally working on an album. I give credit to being in The Menstrual Cramps for giving me the confidence to do it.
2. When/why did you decide to move from behind the drums to a more upfront role in the MCs?
Our drummer AJ became available and, as a much more skilled drummer than me – try 15 or so years, compared to the matter of months I had when I joined TMC – it was a no-brainer to get AJ on board and for me to switch to guitar.
Sometimes I miss the feeling of nerves and not knowing necessarily how a show would go that made me feel sick when I was the drummer – but being on guitar is a much better fit, having played rhythm guitar for 14 years now. It’s been cool to help out with backing vocals too – especially on Cull The Tories, the song that by that point in the set never fails to convince any reluctant factions of a TMC audience.
3. Does being based in a different part of the country to the band ever present any logistical problems?
Absolutely!! Being in London, I don’t get to be with the band as much as the rest do with each other – which can be expected as they’re all in Bristol. Between working full time and being in two different cities we don’t get to practice together too much, but honestly as we’ve been on the road playing gigs, we’ve gained the confidence we need playing with each other at shows week in, week out.
I’ve also had to adjust my life as far as expecting to be on a coach to Bristol most Friday evenings after a full week of full time work, and scheduling anything else in my life around that – it’s been tiring stuff, but worth it to be in this band with my best friends. Working Mon–Fri in London means there’s been shows midweek that I couldn’t attend, but the other four made it work without me.
As I see it, having fun with your buds should always overcome any logistical problems, so we all do what we can to make the band viable even though we’re in different places on the map.
4. That’s a very nice T-shirt you’ve got there. Could you envisage our unelected ‘leader’ as a fan of the band?
Boris saying he’s a fan of TMC would truly be the first sign of the apocalypse – the simulation would have to go very, VERY wrong for that to happen.
Formore info regarding my shirt, please see these articles:
4. Can you name two other bands that you would like to be, or would like to have been, a member of, if TMCs had never existed?
In another life I stayed in Brighton after university and joined ARXX. I believe I was at the first everARXX show, and have followed them since, I love Hannah & Clara loads, and will forever wish I’d asked to join as a bassist or something while I was still living in Brighton. Hannah has asked me to manage the band a number of times as well – but as I’ve not done the best job managing my own solo career, and ARXX are destined for world domination, I thought it would be best they go for someone who knows what they’re doing…!
I also nearly became a Cosmic Something with Jemma Freeman and the Cosmic Something shortly after I switched to guitar for TMC, as I also dabble in smashy untidy piano playing, though I have never performed on piano live – unfortunately I couldn’t commit, due to TMC’s schedule.
5. The best and worst gigs you’ve played to date are…?
The best has got to be with Kate Nash, supporting her on tour – she’s a really exceptionally talented artist & singer/songwriter and a really amazing, kind & warm human. Our shows at The Fleece in Bristol & Concorde 2 in Brighton will be experiences I will never forget and always be grateful for. The worst that comes to mind is an open mic gig I did solo once, where they stuck me on at the end of the night – the night was busy but by the time my set came around it was only me, my friend, and the sound guy. I was happy to pay my dues in those days, but those kind of shows are completely disheartening and can make you seriously question why you put yourself through performing or being an artist. It’s all good though – that show inspired my song ‘Gigs’ which is about people actually coming out to shows instead of just clicking “Going” or “Interested” online!!
6. Who inspired your original ambitions to make music?
I distinctly remember being inspired by seeing Britney Spears in her video for Oops I Did It Again… I wondered as a 7 year old how to get into the TV by singing and thinking I wanted to do that too.
I also should say in part my brother inspired me too (for fans of thrash metal check out Overthrow, as I got it into my head that I couldn’t just be a singer without also knowing how to play an instrument so I could write my own songs – my brother Jay lent me his first acoustic guitar, with two strings missing, and I began to teach myself from there.
7. Name three current singers/bands who you think that LW readers and gig-goers should check out, as well as the Menstrual Cramps?
If you don’t check out ARXX and Jemma Freeman and the Cosmic Something then who even are you?? They get featured in LW quite a bit though, so I’m hoping they’re already covered, trying to think of bands perhaps outside the London scene…
Werecats are definitely one to watch/check out, saw them at Boomtown and played with them at Toxic Wotsit fest – they’re a great band & a really nice bunch.
Amyl & The Sniffersfor a proper punk fix – TMC supported them on their UK tour at The Louisiana in Bristol and they were just featured on the front page of Kerrang!! So that’s pretty cool. Again a great bunch of humans too.
Another TWO I’d like to recommend are Pussyliquor and Peach Club – I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them recently, both are a bit younger than me/TMC I believe but they carry themselves with a similar energy to when I first discovered TMC as a fan – I have every confidence those two are gonna go places!! LW, if you’ve not already, let’s have them on the same line up please?? Make it happen!!
Can I name two more?? Check out Brighton bands Sit Down & Lazybones – both put on absolutely incredible live shows that will change your life, if you can catch them live you won’t be able to comprehend why more people don’t already know about them.
Another one to check out is The Baby Seals: Kerry, Amy & Jaz are all really exceptional people who are great fun to hang out with, and I remember thinking when I first discovered them that they so brilliantly make serious feminist topics accessible through humorous but totally relatable songs. They do this so intelligently – because of the topics they cover and how they go about it, in this really obvious way they don’t explicitly need to mention feminism or even identify as a “feminist band”, just a band made up of three wonderful women writing songs about their experiences as women and the wider patriarchal world beyond. They have such brilliant energy on stage and make you feel great when you see them – another band to check out that will totally change your life.
Sorrynotsorry – that was nine bands not three, go run check ‘em all out!!!
8. Your all time top three favourite albums are?
again three isn’t at all a big enough number… but three albums I’ve been
listening to on repeat since approx age 14 are:
Riot! – Paramore
A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out – Panic! At The Disco
Speak For Yourself – Imogen Heap
But other all time lifelong fives include Take This To Your Grave/From Under The Cork Tree by Fall Out Boy, American Idiot by Green Day, Songs In The Key Of Life by Stevie Wonder, For All We Know by Nao… there’s more to that I’m sure… like there’s just too many, Tony! Three isn’t enough haha…
9. And three current favourite tracks/albums that you would recommend without reservation?
Dreamspace (album) by Glacier Veins – AJ showed me this band and I’m in love with the lead singer’s voice
Outrageous (track) by Calva Louise – saw this performed live at Boomtown and my body went full fangirl
Same thing happened at Boomtown when I also saw Bassline Bitch by Nova Twins – an oldie of theirs now I must’ve seen a bunch of times live but there’s no arguing with the fangirl feels!! Their track Devil’s Face is more current & more evil though, definitely another one to check out
Also highly, highly recommend Daughters of Daughters EP & Iron Lung from ARXX, thank me later x
10. Finally, do you have any closing words of encouragement for any Loud Women who have the will to make music but might be struggling to find the way?
Please please please please please for the love of God, do it!!!!!
miracle of time and space that you even exist as you are – if the randomness of
the universe culminates in a desire within you to pursue music, you can’t shy
away from that & I can promise you – it will never go away.
an instrument, or if you’re too nervous to or can’t sing, front a punk
crap is not an excuse, as everyone has to start somewhere. “Goodness”
or “ability” is relative and meaningless anyway.
not an excuse and it’s never too late to start.
excuse yourself from trying it because of self doubt, imposter syndrome, lack
of support from anyone else around you – just follow that musical desire in
you, pick something up and get playing! See it as a gift from you to you and
treat yourself to it.
And if you or your band need further encouragement, get in touch with me @WRTWUK on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram so I can hype you up!!
Beth’s solo shows are always worth catching, and there will hopefully be more to come later this year.
Drumroll please as we can finally announce the full 22 track listing for the hotly-anticipated LOUD WOMEN Volume Two compilation album, which will be launched 14 September 2019 at LOUD WOMEN Fest 4!
The Lost One
The Girl From Clapham
The Menstrual Cramps
No Means No
Never Wanted This
My Body My Choice
The Baby Seals
It’s Not About the Money, Honey
Not Your Girl
Jemma Freeman & The Cosmic Something
Someone Else to Blame
Vaginas, What Else?
I Feel Lobe
Don’t Know Us
Let Loose Lucy
The CD is available to pre-order now for just £5 from our Bandcamp page – and as a thank you for pre-ordering, when the CD releases after 14 Sept we’ll also send you a copy of Volume One! So that’s 42 of the loudest of loud women, all for a cheeky fiver.
14 Sept 2019 at London’s Dome and Boston Music Room looks set to see the biggest (and best?) LOUD WOMEN Fest yet! Here’s the news we’ve been dying to tell you for months … our final* lineup, in no particular order …
*I mean, as final as anything is that could possibly have slight changes here and there in cases of sickness, injury, best friends throwing last-minute weddings, that sort of thing. But pretty damn final I’d say!
The 2018 LOUD WOMEN album of the year is therefore shared by five artists; and if that wasn’t enough we’ve inaugurated a spanking new LOUD WOMEN People’s Vote Readers’ Choice Award chosen by LOUD WOMEN readers themselves (who are clearly better at making decisions!)
Without giving too much way at this stage let’s just say that it’s been a good year for block capitals: here goes!
With stellar gigs performed all over the London-based DIY scene that they call home and extensive radio play on shows like BBC Music Introducing, it’s been a big year for Big Joanie. The feminist punk trio have certainly ended 2018 with a bang thanks to the acclaim that’s already been given to their debut album Sistahs…By allowing their true feelings to be at the forefront of their songwriting, the band create tracks that truly empower the listener; not only to rebel but to check their own activism, to continue growing, and to do better. [Read full review here]
“An irrepressible sense of fun runs through Tits and Nails, in spite of everything its lyrics address. GUTTFULL has created a brilliant and uncompromising summation of the trials of being ‘other’ in 2018 and they’re ready to shout down their oppressors – with wit and with groove.” [Read more from this review]
They write songs which are both silly and serious, and they attack them (as well as each other) playfully. You can make a case for pretension in art, but there’s none with ILL; like so many of the best bands they seem like a gang you’d love to join, but ILL go one better and make you feel like you’d be welcome: friendly if not quite family-friendly (unless the family in question is more Addams than Partridge, perhaps). … A perfect storm of enigma, whimsy and controlled violence, and a genre-straddling state-of-the-nation address. With added bear growls. [Read more from this review]
‘Long-awaited’ might be a cliché, but in the case of LIINES‘ debut album, it’s a fitting description for a band that’s evolved steadily from fin-de-siecle Manc post-riot grrrl stalwarts Hooker: the tightest, heaviest rhythm section in DIY supports Zoe McVeigh’s emotional vocals and haiku-like songwriting, together conjuring an atmosphere of taut, claustrophobic menace like a UK postpunk time capsule. [Read more from this review]
A perfect ten tracks of no wave-disco electropop on a brilliant debut album from this Norwich duo. Described by The Guardian as “Thrillingly chilly, perfectly funky, no-wave straight out of early 80’s NYC…except that Sink Ya Teeth are a duo from Norwich. In a different era they’d have been all over TOTP” 4/5
The LOUD WOMEN People’s Vote Readers’ Choice Award:
The Menstrual Cramps is an anti-capitalist feminist band, therefore expect direct attacks on Tories, Neo-Nazis, big brands, business owners, famous idols who shouldn’t be idols anymore, and of course, “boyz-who-will-be-boyz”. The songs are so catchy that half of the album will get stuck in your head after giving one listen to the whole album. They produce music rapidly, though diligently. This rapidity actually shows itself in the guitars as fast riffs, playful strokes and abrupt small silences and it just sounds so good and steady. [Read more from this review]
The Top Twenty in full:
Big Joanie – Sistahs
The Breeders – All Nerve
Colour Me Wednesday – Counting Pennies in the Afterlife
Review by Temmuz (the drummer of Secondhand Underpants)
From the spoken-word style to howling and screaming that sound super authentic, the variety of vocals mark the genuineness of The Menstrual Cramps’ second album, Free Bleedin’. This might sound a bit over the top but I still want to say it: having my period while listening, feeling the blood coming out of my vagina, this album gave me the energy to not hate the frustration that menstruation causes and instead do something with it. So what do I do? Write a fuckin’ review.
The Menstrual Cramps is an anti-capitalist feminist band, therefore expect direct attack on Tories, Neo-Nazis, a lot of big brands, business owners, famous idols who should not be idols anymore, and of course, “boyz-who-will-be-boyz”.
The songs are so catchy that half of the album will get stuck in your head after giving one listen to the whole album, in that sense they remind me of Dream Nails: they definitely share a close kinship in terms of lyrical and musical style.
There are 14 songs in total and you can tell they can produce music rapidly, though diligently. This rapidity actually shows itself in the guitars as fast riffs, playful strokes and abrupt small silences and it just sounds so good and steady.
Three of my favorite tracks Neo Nazi (necessary hatred song for neo-nazis), Mutual Masturbation (sexy stuff) and Tory Scum (Theresa May gets her share from our cramps) are perfect examples of this kind of eager song-writing.
But like I said, the way they sing is so creative and interesting that the main allure of the album for me is still the vocals.
Apparently, The Menstrual Cramps wants revolution (just like a lot of other recent feminist punk bands) and manifests this want for instant change in fast-changing songs with very-well located impatient breaks for the bass to do its own thing.
In short, this album has a rapid creative punk energy that you cannot find elsewhere that easily, especially not in the merchandised pop bands.
As a last remark, check their enjoyable videos, they are having fun.”
Skating Polly and the Menstrual Cramps at the Sebright Arms, Shoreditch, 10/09/2018 – live review by Vicki Thompson
I arrive to find an almost empty room when I potter downstairs to the basement venue at the Sebright Arms – but I’m too early. I head upstairs to kill time, and find that I’m in a classic London public house – stained glass above its beautiful wooden bar, fairy lights and hanging ivy in the corners, a good beer selection on tap or by the bottle, plus a few nice whiskies if you’re partial, too! I meet a stranger at the bar who I make idle chit-chat with, and I ask her when the band starts, to which her reply was, “Oh, not until half 9“, meaning Skating Polly. I tell her the support act are really great and worth watching too, to which she replies, “Yeah, I really want to check them out!“, proceeding to order a plate of cheese fries that will almost certainly arrive during their set.
I dive back down the rabbit hole to find that the venue is now beginning to fill up. I move in close to the front to get a good view, and singer Emilia is already on stage, crouched down. She asks a friend in the crowd “Is it time? Should we start?“. Within moments we’re dancing away to the first track of the Menstrual Cramps set – Hashtag Sad Penis, which features on their last release, We’re not Ovaryacting. Emilia is sporting a hand-drawn shirt design to further drive the point home, featuring a crying aubergine with the words “No more dick pics” emblazoned beneath. The first track sets a high energy bar for the night and captivates their audience. I was at their very first show a few years back, and every time I’ve seen them since that debut, they’ve never failed to replicate the same energy they had that night. You can’t help but cheer them on.
I love how much of themselves they throw into their music. Between songs, they talk about the rejection they’ve had from the old-guard of the punk scene, particularly from Nazis (but who’d want their acceptance?!) who’ve told them they have no place to be making this music, that they “weren’t there” and they have no business existing. This I can relate to a lot, as a performer in the black metal scene. The rejection and estrangement I’ve felt from other artists who don’t believe a woman should play this sort of music (and have no problem telling you this), the idiotic elitists who idolise some of the more questionable roots of the genre, and the struggle to make yourself heard against the vitriol. I salute the Menstrual Cramps for taking the backlash against them and turning it on its head; for using their voices and subverting their negative experiences for the creation of great art. They turned all this into a song called Neo Nazi, which went down a storm.
The rest of their set continues the trend – they play magnificently, wearing their hearts and their politics on their sleeves as ever. We fling ourselves about to their anthem I like that top inspired by the gentrification of Bristol. We are told not to separate art from its artist, and not to idolise our Idols – words which cause a stir in me, and ring a parallel once again to the black metal scene that is often guilty of both charges. Unabashed, unashamed and a real entertainment, the Menstrual Cramps go out to thunderous, well-deserved applause. A fun and thought-provoking set, featuring a mix of songs from their previous release and their new album, Freebleedin’.
A quick dive up and back downstairs later, Skating Polly haven’t even started yet but I’m already in awe of their stage outfits as they set up. Red silks and collars, white fringe, hearts tattooed on knees and so much rock n roll glamour! They’re just as I remember them from Bristol, supporting Babes in Toyland about three years ago. My hype builds as much as the lime and soda I was given on the house upstairs bubbles in my hands. I’m near the front again, but with not quite as clear a view as I had for the Menstrual Cramps. And the demographic of the crowd around me has changed somewhat. For the Cramps I had a gaggle of other young (mostly) women dancing with and around me, but for Skating Polly I note that I am surrounded by older dudes. One of them has terrible B.O.
As Skating Polly start playing, it dawns on me that nearly all of them are photographers, and they’re really quite tall. They mob in front of me, and being fairly short I have no choice but to climb onto a nearby step at the side of the stage to be able to see at all, which sucks. “Oh well, three song rule.”, I think to myself.
But they don’t leave after three songs and stay put, taking photos for the entire set.
I try not to let it dampen my enjoyment too much, and it doesn’t, for sisters and brother (a new addition!) trio Skating Polly are incredibly entertaining, playing a super dynamic show for us. Their star power shines over any technical issues (“it wouldn’t be ‘Ugly Pop’ if everything fucking worked!” cries Kelli as the snare drum breaks), and their vocal talent and instrument-swapping dazzles throughout. Everyone sings along and it’s a little bit magical. They wow us with another high energy start to the set, just as their support act did, and tell us that a new video of theirs for their song, Free Will At Ease has literally just dropped over in the States, which they then play for us. This one’s a song led by Peyton, about healing from a shitty past relationship, something that anyone could relate to.
Once again, I admire how much of themselves they put into the music. Kelli tells us a story as she tunes her 3 string white Fender bass, about a guy back in Oklahoma who said he hated her music, especially “that screamy shit she did”. So in defiant retaliation she wrote the “most screamiest, most shittiest song she could”. She plays it and screams wide-eyed and furious into the microphone as she high-kicks the air, everyone eating it up. Their pacing is on point, giving the audience a chance to mellow down between high energy numbers with quieter, more thoughtful tracks like Little Girl Blue and the Battle Envy from their new album, The Make It All Show. Towards the end of the night, Kelli dives into the crowd to crowd surf almost against the roof of the sweatbox venue as she continues playing, which was badass as hell.
And that says it all really. Overall, a fantastic night! A bit of a shame about the photographers obscuring the view thoughout Skating Polly, but it didn’t ruin the night. I would urge any London promoters to enforce the “three song rule” more strictly in venues without especially elevated stages. And you, dear reader, if you ever get the chance to watch either band, you should. I picked up both bands’ latest releases at the merch tables and neither fail to impress.