Anyone who knows me will know of my love of Queens Of The Stone Age, and if you know me I’ll be sure to tell you about how immense it was to see them headline Finsbury Park on Saturday evening. I could go on forever about how it was the best set I’ve ever seen them play in my many, many years of fangirling… A perfect, career-spanning set that included all my favourites (especially excited to hear plenty from 2000’s Rated R). I could also tell you about how I’m still pretty blown away to have seen the legendary Iggy Pop blasting out all the classics in an incredible energy-fuelled frenzy.
But, for now, I want to talk about some of the other bands that joined Josh & co. on Saturday. The event advertised itself of having a line up of 50% female artists (which is what all festivals should be doing, in my opinion…), but personally, my day was at least 80% governed by incredible women in music.
After battling my way through brusque security and parting ways with my Chanel perfume, I make it to the second stage in time to catch Belako – aka my new favourite band. Delivering their gritty slices of post-punk, they treat us to one of the most impressive, most engrossing, sets I’ve witnessed for a long time. Oozing immense scuzzy riffs alongside their raw, swirling energy and gnarly passion, this is a band surely on the rise. And, introducing set highlight ‘Over The Edge’ as being “against gender violence”, one after our own hearts. I’m now thoroughly addicted to their latest release Render Me Numb, Trivial Violence – an album I cannot recommend strongly enough.
I stay at the second stage for long-time GIHE faves Skinny Girl Diet. It’s wonderful to see them building their reputation and playing such a big event; since first seeing them at The Shacklewell Arms a few years ago, they’ve been wowing listeners across the country. And it’s easy to see why. Oozing their seething, Riot Grrrl-inspired energy and rousing, grunge-fuelled sound, they deliver their fantastically raging offerings to a buoyant sea of fans (some even conquering the heat to energetically dance along), whilst taking the time to thank the crowd for being “angels”. A sparkling, impassioned set from one of the most exciting bands around, and one we need now more than ever.
I finally make my way to the main stage to catch blues-rock duo Deap Vally. Less of an intimate experience than the second stage, or indeed when I was right at the front for last year’s gig at Islington Assembly Hall, they still maintain all the empowering passion and glorious, gritty aggression that I’ve come to love about them. Delivering tracks from both albums, as well latest singles ‘Bring It On’ and ‘Let Go’, their raging feminist anthems prove every bit the immense spectacle to behold as I remember; their vibrant, glitter-filled energy spanning the distance between me and the stage, and filling the scorching air with joy.
Returning to the intimacy of the second stage, I’m greeted by the truly infectious charisma and sunny charm of Madrid’s Hinds. Kicking things off with ‘The Club’, as always the band exude their joyous, jangly scuzz as they reassure us that “… we’re all, all of us here, friends with Queens Of The Stone Age!” With each moment spent with this band, the sheer sense of glee heightens, such is the sunny spirit of Carlotta, Ana, Ade and Amber. Propelled by an unrelenting, uplifting energy, a vibrant cover of Kevin Ayers’ ‘Caribbean Moon’ sees the crowd dance along in buoyant bliss to the band’s ‘choreography’ on stage. With a set including “classics” such as ‘Bamboo’ and ‘Chilli Town’, Hinds once again leave me grinning from cheek to cheek, their euphoric offerings the perfect accompaniment to the summer sun.
After a short interlude, Brody Dalle appears. And, as if that wasn’t enough, she’s accompanied by two more of the most awesome women in rock – Ayse and Fay from Savages. Immediately exuding her immense sense of cool, opening with the riotous force of ‘Rat Race’, she doesn’t seem to have lost any of the seething, angst-driven power that we’ve all come to know and love. As she blasts out her raw, husky vocals, a pretty surreal sense of excitement comes over me; being in the presence of such a personal hero. Despite not playing any old Distillers tracks, it’s a short, sweet and hugely empowering set (just six songs, all from 2014’s Diploid Love) that leaves me as much in awe of her as I was when first seeking refuge in her gritty strength as an emotion-filled teen. And I’m clearly not the only one overcome by Brody Dalle; it’s incredibly refreshing to see her continuing to be an influence, as a young girl in front of me sits upon an adult’s shoulders, rocking out to every single impassioned growl.
Queues for beer and perfume-banishment issues aside, Queens Of The Stone Age and Friends was a wonderful day of some of the best music by some of the coolest people. The best kind of day, filled back to back with incredible music spanning genre and gender, all accompanied by dazzling sunshine.
Photo Credit: Sam McMahon