It’s that time of year again when we look back at some of our musical highlights. And what a year for live music it’s been – from walking vaginas and Japanese post-punk pantomime, to matriarchal domes and DIY community spirit, we’ve felt pretty lucky to be able to witness some incredible live performances.
Last week, we shared our favourite tracks and albums, and this week we’ll be discussing our all round highlights and Ones To Watch for 2020, but for now, here are our most loved gigs of 2019. Have a read, and a listen to the playlist below!
Björk’s Cornucopia Tour @ The O2, 19.11.19
An opulent, self aware, stunning two hour performance: Icelandic icon Björk was able to “weave a matriarchal dome” over the heads of her transfixed crowd during her Cornucopia live show at London’s O2 Arena. The music pioneer brought her Utopian vision to life through pitch perfect vocals, beautifully orchestrated collaborative sounds, and breath-taking visuals. This was my first time seeing her, and it certainly won’t be my last.
(Kate Crudgington – Features Editor/Co-Founder)
Peaches @ Royal Festival Hall, 28.08.19
Wednesday, 28th September 2019: another day of exceptionally soul-destroying news about the state that the country/the world was in; a day when I particularly needed a lift, something to restore my faith in humanity. So, witnessing the sex positive queer feminism of the legendary Peaches couldn’t have come at a better time. Complete with an all womxn band, a fleet of living vaginas, huge inflatable penises, a virtual Iggy Pop and an aerial gymnast shooting lasers out of her behind, it was the most innovative and inclusive of performances. An incredible spectacle that helped restore my faith in humanity, it was just the perfect celebration of everything queer, wonderful, weird and totally life-affirming.
(Mari Lane – Managing Editor/Co-Founder)
Otoboke Beaver/ Say Sue Me/ Drinking Boys And Girls Choir @ Brudenell Social Club, 03.05.19
A skate-punk trio from Daegu. A four piece indie surf outfit from Busan. And the headliners, the self-described “Japanese girls knock out or pound cake band”, named after an Osaka love hotel. In a converted working men’s club in the outskirts of Leeds. This showcase of two Korean and one Japanese band on the Damnably label was part of a tour undertaken by the three during Otoboke Beaver‘s ‘Golden Week’ – their time off from work when they get to do live dates outside of Japan. When I realised that they were touring the UK, I made plans to go and see them at the Brudenell, as part of a long-held desire to go to a gig there. Perhaps the most amazing element was that these three bands of quite different guitar genres – two of whom I had never heard of before – completely carried a warm, appreciative English audience all the way with them. Say Sue Me, in particular, showed the poise and indie-pop nous of many of my favourite acts – and crucially had all the best merch. But it was Otoboke Beaver who nearly blew the roof off with their blistering post-punk pantomime that culminated in a ‘secret’ fourth encore, largely performed in the middle of the audience. Unimpeachable, irrepressible, joyful and exhilarating: they’re the best band in the world and to see them live was something I won’t ever forget.
(John McGovern – Contributor)
Cro Cro Land, 06.04.19
Although it seems it now, 2019 wasn’t all bad… One of its highlights was the launch of Croydon’s brand new festival Cro Cro Land. Particularly exciting for me, as a Croydon resident. Organised by friends of GIHE Angela Martin and Julia Woollams, the festival aimed to promote gender equality in both its line-up and staff, whilst championing a number of local bands and artists, and working in conjunction with a number of grassroots organisations and charities. A day filled not only with all the best live music, but also a completely unmatched sense of community spirit, it was so much more than just a festival, it was like a huge family gathering, filled with all the most life-affirming vibes. Highlights included: the soaring rock anthems of Tiger Mimic, Jetstream Pony‘s dreamy indie-pop, ARXX‘s seething punk, Berries‘ raucous whirring energy, Feral Five‘s unique electro punk, Bugeye‘s colourful power, the politically driven power of She Drew The Gun, Bang Bang Romeo‘s incredible compelling charisma, Fightmilk‘s dreamily catchy offerings, the immense force of Nova Twins, Chorusgirl‘s sparkling garage-pop, the riotous frenzied energy of The Lovely Eggs, Blood Red Shoes‘ set full of electrifying offerings new and old, and many more amazing bands I’ve failed to mention!
Lingua Ignota @ Oslo, Hackney, 30.11.19
Lingua Ignota‘s (aka Kristin Hayter) sold out show at Hackney’s Oslo was catharsis incarnate. The industrial/metal multi-instrumentalist’s hair-raising vocal range and dramatic performance style held her crowd in captivated silence, as she used her pitch perfect voice to sing songs about vengeance and violence. Like an Anglerfish that dwells in dark waters attracting its prey with a dazzling light, Hayter used her portable spotlight to lure and illuminate her audience each time she broke the fourth wall. A survivor of abuse and of industry misogyny (read her excellent interview with The Guardian here), Hayter has defiantly risen from these ashes in Phoenix-like fashion. Her interrogative spotlight is not easy to escape, and her powerful voice is impossible to ignore.
John Kennedy’s X-POSURE Summer Party, 17.08.19
Celebrating twenty years of his X-POSURE radio show, John Kennedy hosted the best of parties this summer. A real, genuine pioneer of new music, and tireless promoter of upcoming bands and artists, we’re massive fans of all John does, here at GIHE, and the day did not disappoint. Held at Flat Iron Square, with an outdoor stage as well as events held in Apres and Omeara, John made sure that there were no band clashes throughout the day – a genius idea! Kicking off with the soothing tones of Brooke Bentham, personal highlights on the outdoor stage included the unmatched buoyant energy of Calva Louise and the dreamy, soulful sounds of Babeheaven whilst inside in Omeara, I was completely blown away by the seething rock anthems of Liverpool’s The Mysterines. It was also wonderful to catch Marika Hackman live in conversation with John, discussing her latest album I’m Not Your Man. A perfect celebration of new music, thank you John!
Nik Void (supporting Gum Takes Tooth) @ Electrowerkz, 25.01.19
Nik Void gave a master class in how to perform electronic music solo at Electrowerkz when she supported duo Gum Takes Tooth at their album launch. Positioned behind a desk overflowing with wires and synths, Void skilfully tuned and triggered her equipment, creating intense waves of experimental electronic noise. I wasn’t aware of Void’s history (she’s one half of Factory Floor, and one third of Carter Tutti Void) – but even without an understanding of her previous work, her solo set was a truly remarkable experience.
GIHE Live @ Notting Hill Arts Club
Cheating and gloating a bit here, but all of the GIHE gigs I’ve organised at Notting Hill Arts Club this year have been favourites (as have Mari’s monthly gigs at The Finsbury). I try to co-ordinate line-ups that feature some form of electronic music, and I think I nailed that with our final show of the year. ESYA (Ayse Hassan of Savages/Kite Base/180 db), Scrounge and Eilis Frawley played for us, and they were all sensational. It goes without saying that I couldn’t have pulled any of this off without the help of Mari, Tash, Paul & Jon. All have been incredibly helpful with booking suggestions, photographs, and acting as door staff on the nights.
GIHE Live @ The Finsbury
Having now been running our live nights at The Finsbury for over three years, putting these gigs on remains my most favourite thing to do. Bringing like-minded people together to enjoy music, offering bands the opportunity to share their incredible art in a safe space, just fills me with joy and pride each month. All twelve of our gigs this year have been exceptional, and I’ve loved every single band we’ve hosted; from the raging electro-punk of Clt Drp, to the dreamy indie-pop of faves such as Mammoth Penguins and Chorusgirl, they’ve all been wonderful in different ways, and I’m super grateful to everyone who’s been a part of it. A stand out moment for me, though, would have to be our International Women’s Day celebration on 8th March, headlined by the ferocious, sparkling force of Brighton duo ARXX, with support from the fun-filled-empowering energy of The Baby Seals, the fierce post-punk of Scrounge and the twinkling electronic soundscapes of Rainbow Corps. We also invited The Outside Project – a charity dedicated to helping the homeless LGBTQ+ community – along to raise money for their project. It was a joyful, empowering night filled with the best vibes to celebrate all womxn.
We’ve updated our Best Of 2019 playlist with some songs from the bands and artists we’ve loved live. Have a listen now!
Mari Lane / @marimindles
Kate Crudgington / @kcbobcut
John McGovern / @etinsuburbiaego