LIVE: Dream Nails – Old Blue Last, London 07.10.19

“You are not your job! Work is not your life!” belts lead vocalist Janey from feminist punk band Dream Nails – a validating statement that has their sold out crowd at Old Blue Last shouting back in agreement. Celebrating the release of their new single ‘Corporate Realness’ (from which the lyrics are taken); Janey, guitarist Anya, drummer Lucy, and bassist Mimi lit up the stage with their defiant anthems.

Get In Her Ears have been to many a Dream Nails gig, and we keep returning to see them for the same reasons: empowerment, solidarity, and comfort. Their songs about avoiding creepy grief thieves (‘Tourist’) and getting ghosted (‘Chirpse Degree Burns’) use humour to deflect from the stresses of navigating everyday life, but their ability to switch between the silly and the serious is what makes their live performances so vital.

Delivering their familiar and necessary chant of “women and non-binary people to the front, men to the back” three songs in, the band present an unshakable confidence as they blitz through their 40 minute set. Janey’s voice soars over the perfectly curated noise that Anya, Lucy & Mimi create, and is equally as commanding when she speaks about worthy causes and shameful statistics between songs.

Championing the cause of Solidarity Not Silence, Janey shouts out to the first support act of the night, Nadia Javed of The Tuts. She encourages the crowd to believe and support women who speak out against their abusers, and to follow the campaign that Nadia and other female musicians are a part of.

The band’s collective rage boils over during ‘Joke Choke’, a song that takes down people who think rape jokes are funny in a country where two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. It’s two minutes of frenzied guitar and crashing percussion, and a cathartic burst of righteous energy.

Much like second support act The Baby Seals – whose frontwoman Kerry described her sweat level as “bio-hazard” – Dream Nails know how to get their crowd working out. During their song ‘Jillian’, which is dedicated to cult fitness coach Jillian Michaels, the band ask everyone to squat down for a few moments, before leaping back up to join them in their poppy ode to the health guru.

It wouldn’t be a proper Dream Nails gig without renditions of iconic singles ‘DIY’ and ‘Deep Heat’. The first arrives mid-way through the set, with the crowd screaming back “Do It Yourself!” at all the right intervals. The latter closes the band’s set in furious style, proving that the band’s hex on Donald Trump and his British counterpart Boris Johnson is still as potent as ever.

With their militant mindset and knockout delivery, Dream Nails set at Old Blue Last was a reminder to all to keep fighting in the face of adversity, and to have a fucking good laugh whilst you’re doing it.

Follow Dream Nails on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Chloe Hashemi & Emily Barker

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LIVE: Lingua Ignota – Oslo, London 30.11.19

Catharsis incarnate: Lingua Ignota‘s sold out show at Hackney’s Oslo on Monday night was a vicious, yet vulnerable affair. 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.

With a set-list formed primarily of new material from her recent album Caligula, Lingua Ignota (aka Kristin Hayter) used minimal, but effective lighting to help deliver her brutal truths. Sometimes screened by a translucent plastic sheet at the back of the stage, sometimes strung up by her own hand with the wires from her lights; Hayter mastered the art of appearing calm as she intermittently screamed her lungs out. Whilst all of the songs performed were worthy of merit, her rendition of ‘Do You Doubt Me Traitor’ cut the deepest. It’s a powerful, vilifying song designed to unsettle and ignite fury, and Hayter used her operatic voice as a weapon to do just that.

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 when she broke the fourth wall. The crowd obediently flocked towards her wielding their smart phones (naturally desperate to document the moment), but as with all live music; it’s best appreciated without the shield of a screen. Hayter’s fearless taking up of other people’s space perfectly accompanies her savage lyrics about taking down those who deny her, or abuse her self-autonomy.

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, and her live performance acts as proof of this. Her interrogative spotlight is not easy to escape, and her powerful voice is impossible to ignore.

Kate Crudgington
@kcbobcut

LIVE: The Coathangers @ Arts Club Loft, Liverpool, 30.04.19

Why aren’t The Coathangers better known? It’s a question that occurs whilst writing this review. Perhaps, with their self-titled debut coming along in 2006, they emerged at a time when bands were pretty uniformly all-male and ironically pro-choice band names were unheard of. Whatever the case, it’s led them here, to a smallish loft venue in Liverpool on a Tuesday, calling in support from two of the city’s emerging punk acts.

Piss Kitti take to the stage by degrees, with guitarist Dominic, bassist Quinn and drummer Daniel already onstage and set up before lead singer Esme followss. The group are joyously unrefined and uncoordinated, whilst the set is shallow fried DIY punk – all power chords and burps down the mic, shrieks and thuds. But there’s social commentary too: “We always get told off for doing this one because it’s about the lad bands round here that are absolute melts”, Esme announces before the band crash into ‘Bore’.  It’s ironic, and perhaps deliberate, that it has the best chorus of the set.

After Salt the Snail tell us “We’ve got absolutely nothing to say”, we wait for what seems an age for The Coathangers to appear. When they do, they creep on in darkness – so dark, in fact, that the gold lamé hooded dresses worn by all three of them are quite startling when the lights come up. It’s an eerie opening too, with jungle sounds and the bassless lilt of ‘Lithium’ and its tale of medication, sung sweetly by singer/guitarist Julia.

In some ways, it belies the rest of the show, most of which flits between Julia’s vocals and the gritty Wanda Jackson pipes belonging to drummer Stephanie. The set is largely taken from new album The Devil You Know, with several album track highlights that reflect the band’s duality: ‘5 Farms’, a straight up garage slammer that meanders into swing; ‘Stranger Danger’, equal parts creepy and bluesy; ‘Hey Buddy’, a maraca-backed cool AF 70s rocker.

But The Coathangers are more in-sync than in-opposition: bassist Meredith takes lead vocals on ‘Memories’, and towards the end of the set, the band have all swapped roles, with each taking a turn on lead vocals and drums. At one point, the band finish a song and collapse into laughter. It’s an insight into Coathanger World, and helps explain the trio’s willingness to go on making music, for over ten years and across six albums. “We’ve been on tour for five months!”, offers Stephanie, by way of explanation.

There’s a smattering of older tracks for the diehards in the room – the titular track from previous LP Nosebleed Weekend, its lead single and the band’s signature tune ‘Make It Right’, and ‘Shut Up’ from 2014’s Suck My Shirt – before the band close with fan favourite ‘Squeeki Tiki’, featuring Julia playing the song’s hook on a dog’s squeaky chew toy, before they strut off, those dresses flashing gold. There’s no encore, after a set with very little bantering with the crowd and no endless tune-ups. Just 45 minutes of pop-rock, garage and Runaways-style punk performed with a minimum of fuss. It’s worth its wait.

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego

LIVE: Le Butcherettes (w/ Big Joanie) – Moth Club, Hackney 02.03.19

Fueled by almighty vocals, hefty guitar riffs and commanding percussion; Le Butcherettes‘ powerful sound ricocheted around the glittered walls of Moth Club last week. Celebrating the release of their fourth album bi/MENTAL, the group delivered a passionate mix of old and new material to their London fans.

Opening the night were DIY garage punks Big Joanie, who were in high spirits having just returned from playing SXSW. The trio’s understated and relatable sounds went down well with the crowd, with ‘Fall Asleep’, ‘Used To Be Friends’ and ‘Down Down’ proving to be the strongest songs in their set.

Cited as their most personal album to date, bi/MENTAL is an ode to Le Butcherettes’ frontwoman Teri Gender Bender’s Mother, and the tracks were as visceral and vulnerable performed live as they are on the record. Teri’s trademark falsetto voice was breath-taking. She flitted between screams, cries and authoritative vocals which matched her erratic but focused performance style. Her band mates – Alejandra Robles Luna (drums), Rikardo Rodríguez-López (guitars) and Marfred Rodríguez-López (bass) – performed with equal amounts of energy; switching between off-kilter sounds and infectious, rolling rhythms with enviable precision.

Teri’s howls and cries cut through the air when she broke the fourth wall and entered the centre of the crowd mid-set and laid on her back. She commanded attention wherever she stood, and spoke fluent Spanish between songs to keep listeners on their toes. As for stand out tracks, it’s difficult to pick just one – but ‘give/UP’ and ‘struggle/STRUGGLE’ stood out among the set list. Both felt like seething, buzzing explorations of grief despite their opposing tempos.

Inspired by the “the death of a living mother”, the duality of life, and the inevitable strife caused by the fluctuation of mental health; Le Butcherettes bi/MENTAL is a cathartic burst of emotive rock designed to clear the cobwebs between your ears – and the band’s live set does exactly that.

Catch Le Butcherettes on their upcoming UK live dates:
Tues 9th July – Boston Music Rooms, London
Weds 10th – Green Door Store, Brighton
Thurs 11th – 2000 Trees Festival, Cheltenham

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LIVE: ESG @ Jazz Cafe, Camden, 01.03.19

It may be ESG’s last UK tour, but the iconic DIY act are going out with a bang…

ESG are possibly the most famous band you’ve never heard of. They’ve been sampled by a list of artists too long to name – including TLC and Miles Davis – and yet they’ve stayed resolutely under the mainstream radar, instead inspiring a generation of female DIY musicians to play by their own rules.

And now, the all-female band, who started making music in the South Bronx in the early ’70s, are on their last ever UK tour. UK fans might remember that this was also what they said of their 2015 tour, so maybe don’t lose hope yet… For the penultimate show, they played Camden’s Jazz Café, with support from Leeds-based funk band Galaxians.

Maybe this really is the last tour, but it doesn’t feel like a sad farewell. The band’s inimitable, sparse mash-up of funk, punk and dance can be unnerving when you’re listening through headphones, but played live, it’s a definite party. Even ‘U.F.O’, whose surreal riff has been sampled by Nine Inch Nails amongst others, is given an upbeat makeover. It can be hard to get a room full of stoic London hipsters dancing, but ESG pull it off easily.

ESG have always been hard to pin down – they’ve been described as everything from proto-hip-hop, to post-punk, to dance – but you get the sense tonight that at the heart of their joyful style is a disregard for categorisation. They’re not interested in being a band who are easy to write about, they’re interested in getting you dancing (whilst perhaps unsettling you slightly at the same time).

The band never found mainstream success – not least because their record label, 99 Records, went bankrupt in the mid-eighties. Since then, they’ve been resolutely DIY. It’s perhaps slightly galling, then, that the artists who sample them, with or without clearance, have often gone on to find greater fame and fortune (though generally lesser critical acclaim). There’s an extra level of irritation in finding that tracks using ESG samples aren’t always ones they’d like to be associated with – as front woman Renee commented in an interview back in 2002, these have included “Really negative, woman-beating type of songs. I’ve been in situations with domestic violence, so I don’t appreciate any song glorifying domestic violence using my music. Go get your own damn music!

They might not be headlining Glastonbury, but they’ve done something arguably greater: they’ve paved the way for female DIY musicians who won’t colour inside the lines. Unconstrained by genre or the pressures of major label involvement, they’re free to enjoy the party.

Frances Salter
@goodcanarymusic

LIVE: Anna Calvi @ The Roundhouse, 07.02.19

The buzz around the catwalk is already palpable. You could cut the atmosphere with a butter knife and anyone who’s seen Anna Calvi live before will know that she can and she will. She’ll forego the butterknife for bright red lipstick, jet black hair, and the bruised Telecaster that’s been by her side since long before she ever found herself screaming into the historic Roundhouse.

Do you think the designers knew that what started as an engine house would end up having the kind of acoustics that could make any audiophile’s expensive headphones melt off their ears? Doubt it, but that’s what happened on 7th February 2019, when Anna Calvi—alongside her band, Mally Harpaz and Alex Thomas—brought Hunter to Camden Town.

Opening the show were two LGBTQ artists-cum-DJs, Austra and Victoria Sin, spinning tracks that both enlivened us queer indie kids and the more seasoned (cis-oned) fans alike. As well as being palpable, it was equal parts emotional. As the stage went dark and screams echoed around the ‘house, there was a strange but enlivened twist in the air: Calvi was home.

Playing songs from Hunter and her self-titled debut, there wasn’t a single soul in the crowd left uncaptivated. Even at the bar, people were being coughed at by bar tenders when they’d forgotten to order; too busy watching art unleashed on the stage in front of us.

The synergy between Calvi, Harpaz, and Thomas lead to the kind of artistic improv Marina Abramović could bathe in – and while I say these things as a fan of both, if you don’t feel nauseous at at least one point of a great gig, your Stendhal moment is still there waiting.

Anna Calvi is an artist to remember. She is, in my humble (gobby) opinion, the greatest living guitarist we have. And she left her mark during every second of the Roundhouse show; from beginning to end. Some cried, some came, and most of us would willingly live through that concert again and again.

Em Burfitt
@fenderqueer

LIVE: Laura Gibson @ Queen Elizabeth Hall, 13.11.18

Having first fallen in love with Laura Gibson’s delicate, soaring vocals upon hearing 2016’s Empire Builder, it was an honour to be able to catch her live at one of my favourite London spaces last Tuesday.

Upon commencing her set at Queen Elizabeth Hall, a humble Gibson takes to the stage along with a trio of musicians, thanking us all for being there and revealing that when she creates music, she’s at her “most alone” but now – sharing her creations with us – she’s at her “most connected”. Immediately oozing her trademark spellbinding charm, and looping together layers of twinkling musicality, she treats our ears to a selection of offerings, from both her new album Goners and 2016’s aforementioned collection. From the majestic, folk-strewn melodies of the likes of ‘Slow Joke Grin’ and the sparkling splendour of ‘I Carry Water’ to the gentle, stirring emotion of ‘Damn Sure’, each poignant track tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways.

Despite issues with a broken cable , Gibson remains calm, maintaining her charming rapport and endearing humour with the crowd throughout – “Well, the cable has been around the world with me, I guess London will be its final resting place”. And, when recalling the difficulties of touring Goners in certain European countries where the word doesn’t quite translate, her gentle wit continues to shine through.

With the majority of the set seeing Gibson at the helm of the keys, with her new material having generally more of an eclectic, musically varied sound that older offerings, she reveals that “… it’s been good to be free from the guitar strap”, before placing it over her head once more and breaking into the gritty whirring hooks of ‘Tenderness’. Succeeding in casting her spell over the crowd, Gibson’s sweeping vocals and heartfelt emotion is showcased at its more raw and spine-tinglingly powerful in (personal favourite) ‘Marjory’; a beautifully intimate offering complete with heady, soul-stirring strings courtesy of Kyleen King.

Following the closing two tracks from Goners, ‘Thomas’ and ‘I Don’t Want Your Voice To Move Me’, Gibson draws the set to a close with the glistening, uptempo sounds of Empire Builder’s ‘Not Harmless’. And all at once it becomes crystal clear that she is perfectly suited to playing in a venue of such prestige; the exquisite cinematic splendour of each and every offering matching its subtle grandeur completely.

Although I unfortunately had to make my way home before Dan Mangan took to the stage (and apparently played some wonderful songs with Laura too), what I did see of Gibson I am extremely grateful for. In a world that’s so swamped in darkness and fear at the moment, I couldn’t help but be filled with a certain sense of hope witnessing her heartfelt, exquisite grace and dreamy allure.

Mari Lane
@marimindles