LIVE: Bitch @ Rockwood Music Hall, NYC, 13.04.2022

Fresh from the release of her epic latest album Bitchcraft – which was released via legendary label Kill Rock Stars earlier this year -, queer electro-pop artist Bitch has taken up a weekly residency at New York’s infamous Rockwood Music Hall. And I’m extremely excited that this coincides with my first ever trip to the Big Apple, and I get to witness this magnificent multi-disciplinary show.

Celebrating the album, which has apparently been eight years in the making, as Bitch takes to the stage in the intimate basement venue, she exudes a magnetising vibrant charisma and infectious joyous energy. Introducing the show as “a little jaunt through my herstory“, dedicated to dear Mother Earth and our on-going battle against capitalism, she kicks things off with the fizzing electro soundscape and catchy, whirring drive of ‘Hello Meadow’. Captivating the crowd with her quirky charm and the swirling musicality of sweeping electronic violin crescendos, each of us are instantly utterly immersed in this theatrical performance, singing along to the chorus and whooping in appreciation of Bitch’s exuberant power.

As Bitch notes down her thoughts with a giant pencil, the performance starts to take on an other-worldly aura; wonderfully blurring the lines between musical performance, stand-up comedy and poignant spoken word. Going on to animatedly share with us details about her childhood, with her boomer/tap-dancing teacher mother and angry father, Bitch proves herself to be the most bewitching of raconteurs – describing how, in a world that makes women and girls feel small, the violin became her voice and she felt able to begin the journey of liberating herself from the ties of a patriarchal society.

As we all unite in the joy of empowering anthems such as ‘You’re The Man’, Bitch emanates her colourful eccentricity, casting us under her spell as we delight in the effervescent power of her unique witch – or indeed Bitch – craft. Whether she’s wowing us with her immense keytar skills, the soaring prowess of the violin, or merely her deeply stirring words, it’s clear that we’re sharing in something truly special by being here – a rapturous call to feel free to be ourselves and fight against the misogynist norms of society.

Reflecting on one of these sexist tropes that has become ingrained in our thinking, Bitch points out that words are often used in a derogatory way against women: a prime example of this being the use of ‘Pussy’ to mean weak or inferior. She invites us to reclaim the word and use it in a positive way – and so we are introduced to her ‘Pussy Manifesto’, an empowering chant that she first shared whilst on tour (alongside partner Animal) with Ani DiFranco in 1998. As we all join in with the frenzied, driving force of each of the “mother-f***ing” manifestations – being reminded of all the ways in which the pussy is magical – a vibrant, euphoric energy fills the room, guided by Bitch’s affirming spirit.

From all too resonant reflections on climate change and our need to protect Mother Nature (‘Polar Bear’), to dedications to long-suffering women everywhere – particularly those of Texas, Oklahoma and Afghanistan – as she recognises that “the witch hunts never stopped” (‘Easy Target’), Bitch showcases her utterly unique knack for highlighting necessary, poignant subject-matter in a beautifully resplendent and delightfully accessible way.

Moving on to some more personal reflections about how she “fell off her broomstick for a while“, Bitch reminds us that it’s okay to not to be okay sometimes – to take time out from the world and focus on recuperating ourselves. Visualising the metaphor of building herself back up through a time of healing by putting together her magnificent bedazzling broomstick piece by piece, she then aurally delivers the sentiment with the sweeping soundscapes of ‘Fallen Witch 2’; a track that glitters with a life-affirming majesty.

And, with her sparkling broomstick now completely built, it’s time for Bitch to close this hour of the most empowering, enlightening shared experiences. Closing the set with soulful latest single ‘Pages’, she shares with her fellow witches the positive affirmations to “keep writing” and to “let pussy manifest and freedom sing“, and I’m left feeling truly revived and motivated; basking in Bitch’s spellbinding, vivacious energy and the queer, euphoric joy that has filled the room.

A truly magical evening. And one that I urge you to witness too, should Bitch’s wonderfully wacky witchery ever come your way.

Bitch’s latest album, Bitchcraft, is out now via Kill Rock Stars.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

LIVE: A.A. Williams – Lafayette, London 04.03.22

After two years of re-scheduling show dates and a tentative return to live music across the UK, London-based songwriter A.A. Williams delivered a stunning performance that showcased her heavy sound in all its glory at Lafayette last night.

A classically trained multi-instrumentalist, Williams’ blending of post-rock and post-classical elements has a hypnotising quality, one that was clearly appreciated by her silent crowd. It’s rare to hear a venue so quiet between songs, but Williams congregation remained devotedly still throughout her set.

Performing songs from her debut album Forever Blue, which she released in 2020, Williams opened the show with an exquisite rendition of ‘All I Asked For (Was To End It All)’. Her soft vocals floated above beguiling keys before heavy riffs and percussion broke the spell and dominated the track’s closing minute. What’s obvious throughout the set is Williams’ and her bandmate’s impressive instinct for volume fluctuation. Her balancing between loud and quiet is the lifeblood of Forever Blue, and it’s something that translates beautifully into a live setting.

Suited in black and playing her guitar in the spotlight, Williams cut a calm and captivating figure, enhanced by her ability to switch from a fragile-sounding exhale of words to a powerful extended vocal. Her voice was occasionally lost in the flood of heavy, feverish sound, but in the moments where it did cut through, it made for intense and cathartic listening, effortlessly elevating the rapturous mood.

It’s hard to pick standout tracks from the set, as Williams’ performance had a whole, defined, cinematic quality to it. Her poignant renditions of ‘Dirt’, ‘Fearless’ and the emotionally raw ‘I’m Fine’ made listeners hold their collective breath, but closing her set with ‘Melt’ was undoubtedly a highlight. The smouldering, brooding track was stripped of its more melancholic feel once the blitz-like volume change kicked in, once again displaying Williams’ and her bandmate’s instincts for intricately cauterizing the ear drums.

Taking time to thank her fans between songs and genuinely appreciative of their applause at the end of the show, A.A. Williams provided an aural tonic of intense, beautifully executed sound at Lafayette, proving that the two year wait to hear her poetic ruminations on Forever Blue was well and truly worth it.

Follow A.A. Williams on bandcamp, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter & Facebook

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LIVE: The Big Moon – The Lexington 17.10.19

Joy incarnate: The Big Moon‘s sold out headline show at The Lexington on Thursday night was a playful, polished affair that left us grinning from ear to ear. The four-piece have been busy supporting The Pixies on their UK tour, but found time to debut some of their new material to excited fans for their final gig of 2019.

The band were left beaming after their affectionately dubbed “guinea pigs” responded with cheerful applause to song’s from their sophomore album, Walking Like We Do, which is set for release in January 2020. The tracks are filled with the same buoyant melodies and charming choruses as that of their debut, Love In The 4th Dimension, and are sure to be popular singles upon their official release.

Their set opened with a trio of classic Big Moon tracks: ‘Silent Move Susie’, ‘Sucker’, and ‘Formidable’. Delivered with trademark enthusiasm and superb vocal harmonies, it paved the way for a series of new songs including ‘It’s Easy Then’, followed by older material such as ‘The Road’ and ‘Cupid’ during the latter half of the set. Lead vocalist Juliette broke the fourth wall during crowd favourite ‘Bonfire’, raising the room temperature by more degrees than we cared to count.

Whilst The Big Moon’s music is undeniably infectious, it’s their camaraderie on stage that makes their live shows such a joy to witness. Juliette, Soph, Celia & Fern have an enviable chemistry; they bounce off of each other (sometimes literally) throughout their set, and always appear relaxed and at ease in each other’s company. Their attitude and their music shows that even in the darkest of times, there’s always a space for friends to come together to have fun and let go for a while.

This is proven once again during their performance of recent single ‘Your Light’ at the end of their set. Its luscious chorus and atmospheric keys fill the venue with a shiny sense of optimism, a feeling that’s enhanced by the reflections of the disco ball above the crowd’s heads. The Big Moon proved once again that they are stars in the making, and we’re one of many fans who were blinded by their glorious garage-pop light.

Pre-order your copy of The Big Moon’s new album, Walking Like We Do, here.

Follow the band on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Pooneh Ghana

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

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