LIVE: Wolf Girl, Charmpit & Sex Jokes @ Rough Trade Nottingham, 15.11.18

A Fan Club show is always a treat not only for being brilliantly curated, but for its ‘everyone welcome’ party vibe. Tonight we’re getting three acts who give out summer-esque sounds about winter-cold feelings, and back up that sense of belonging by adding to a tribe made of those who don’t comfortably fit.

Opening tonight is Derby’s Sex Jokes – one of the many musical guises of Shelley Jane Newman (also of Mighty Kids) – who has been one of my favourite acts to debut this year, and with each performance I’m a little more deeply in love. The set opens with ‘Talk’, the only track available online, a power pop anthem with voluminous guitar and “bored-of-your-bullshit” vocals. It brings in influences from Rilo Kiley to Jucifer, Tacocat to Pillow Queens, but the result is recognisable as being very much Sex Jokes’ own sound.

Charmpit are, well, charming. With laid-back chat between songs and a definite surf-pop vibe, they bring the sunshine and some gorgeous dual-harmonies which evoke the best of ‘60s sound. Recent single ‘Squirrel Vision’ and ‘Summer Up My Skirt’ mix the rough-edged guitar with the back and forth mid-song chat of The Shangri-Las, before the chants break back in. It’s the mix of the punk attitude of The Slits with the harmonies and sing-a-long hooks of The Ronettes which make Charmpit instantly recognisable and irresistibly catchy.


Headlining are Wolf Girl – and while the two opening acts have set the bar high, they vault it with ease with a set consisting of the best from new album Every Now and Then. These songs are full of determination and vulnerability, intelligent lyrics that are relatable, not aloof, and melodies that cut through you in the best possible way.

There’s plenty of West Coast surf-pop here too, and the sort of wistful melancholy wrapped in jangling melody that Upset and The Muffs have, but it’s the lyricism which sticks with you. Lines like, “Don’t want to get to thirty without learning to drive / Don’t want to look back having felt barely alive” become visceral through their resonance rather than through the words themselves, and while slacker-pop and problematic adulting are dealt with, so are themes of identity and love; making this a set of songs unafraid of the big and small details of life.

Most of all, Wolf Girl, like Charmpit and Sex Jokes before them tonight, are about belonging even when you feel you don’t belong. All three bands are suave and scrappy, giving a night full of 60’s pop-influenced hooks with the sweetness razor-edged by grating guitars, and wry but honest lyrics sung in dual-vocals to amplify the personal and political. These are our experiences echoed back from the stage, these are our thoughts and feelings honed into three minute punk pop chunks that make the heart soar and the feet dance. This gig, these bands, are the sound of the new underground and the real punk spirit and tonight they delivered in style.

Words: Sarah Lay
Photo Credit: Sarah Lay

WATCH: Ms Mohammed – ‘Pandora’

A direct challenge to anyone who dares to suppress the feminine in all its forms, musician and activist Ms Mohammed has shared a video to accompany her latest single ‘Pandora’. Taken from her critically acclaimed EP Alibi, ‘Pandora’ brims with relentless riffs and thundering percussion, which reflects the strength and endurance of all the women featured in the new visuals. Among these women are Madame So, Kat Five of Feral Five and Zel from VODUN.

“We are sold limiting ideas of what it means to be female,” Ms Mohammed explains about the context behind her single and video. “The feminine is still derided in all cultures, still frowned upon, still synonymous with weakness. Truly celebrating the feminine would bring about the revolution that is so desperately needed. The Future is Femme!”

Ms Mohammed founded the Clit Rock movement in 2013 as a way of speaking out against female genital mutilation. As a champion of cross-cultural tolerance and an out queer artist who advocates for LGBT rights and visibility, Ms Mohammed is challenging prejudice through her music and we are happy to be her allies in the fight for equality.

Watch the video for ‘Pandora’ below and follow Ms Mohammed on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington

Track Of The Day: Queen Zee – ‘Idle Crown’

Hot on the heels of their last single ‘Fly The Pink Flag’, GIHEs favourites Queen Zee have released new track ‘Idle Crown’, and it’s a smartly executed piece of Marilyn Manson-esque garage punk. Released via the band’s own label Sasstone Records, the Liverpool group have yet to record something that we don’t instantly fall in love with.

Blending activism and politics into their fleshy, raucous tunes, ‘Idle Crown’ is another fiery gem in Queen Zee’s crown. Front person Zee explains the inspiration behind the track:”‘Idle Crown’ is essentially a narrative between two characters trapped in a toxic relationship. It’s something everyone can relate too, but what I wanted to do was question heteronormativity using a familiar setting. A theme throughout our album as a whole is society’s wish for LGBTQ+ people to conform to a standard, regardless of the happiness or health of them. Within ‘Idle Crown’, I used two LGBTQ+ characters trapped in a heteronormative relationship to express the pain of being unable to live as your true self”

The band will head back out on the road again with Marmozets in February 2018 to deliver more of their fearless, provocative sounds to the eager crowds who caught them live earlier this year. Together, Queen Zee (vocals/guitar), Jason Taylor Brown (guitar), Frank Wortho (bass), David Bloom (drums) and Courtney Colley (Keys & Vocals) “give so much of a fuck, that they really couldn’t give a single fuck” – and we’re more than happy to follow their example.

Listen to ‘Idle Crown’ below.

Queen Zee February 2018 Tour Dates (with Marmozets)

Friday 2nd  – Cardiff – The Tramshed
Saturday 3rd – Southampton – Engine Rooms
Sunday 4th – Brighton – Concorde 2
Tuesday 6th – Cambridge – Cambridge Junction
Wednesday 7th –  London – Student Central
Thursday 8th – Nottingham – Rescue Rooms
Friday 9th – Newcastle – Riverside
Sunday 11th – Sheffield – The Leadmill
Monday 12th – Edinburgh – The Liquid Room

Follow Queen Zee on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington