LIVE: Petrol Girls – Shacklewell Arms, London 25.04.18

Loud, lethal and life-affirming, Petrol Girls‘ headline show at The Shacklewell Arms on Wednesday night was a  furious, raw, frenzy of noise. The band, who recently signed to Hassle Records, packed out the venue with the help of their friends Pretty Pistol and Screaming Toenail (aka our new favourite band.)

Adorned in a Dream Nails band tee, Petrol Girls’ front-woman Ren was energy incarnate, pushing girls in the crowd to the front with electrifying stage presence. Fans of Dream Nails’ may have noticed the familiar face of their vocalist Janey in the crowd too, stood at the front alongside several other fans, all of whom had their eyes fixed on the stage.

Together, Liepa, Joe, Zock & Ren tore through a set-list that included tracks ‘False Peace’, ‘Treading Water’, ‘Restless’ and ‘Phallocentric’ – all taken from their 2016 debut Talk Of Violence. The songs topics range from militant disregard for oppressive patriarchal values, to a refreshingly loud promotion of female sexual pleasure. On new single ‘Survivor’, the band continue to tackle the issue of sexual violence. Ren prefaced the track with words of solidarity to survivors of this abuse and urged them to remember that just because something bad has happened to you – you are not defined by your trauma.

Between songs, Ren also spoke of her activism – which includes an essay in a collection titled ‘Nasty Women’ – and told her crowd that it’s okay to say “NO” to fascists and oppressors, whether that’s in political or personal spheres. It seems there’s no differentiation between the two for Petrol Girls and closing song ‘Touch Me Again’ proved how vehemently they believe this. The track’s visceral live delivery made it impossible not to chant in unison with Ren as she repeatedly screamed the line “Touch me again, and I will fucking kill you!” She finished the gig on her knees, sweating, smiling and probably exhausted, but the crowd around her and her band mates lit up with rounds of congratulatory applause.

Petrol Girls are a talented band with an uncompromising ability to motivate, entertain and inspire listeners to speak out against all forms of injustice. Their furious blend of aggressive, cathartic, punk songs had more than the desired effect on their crowd at The Shacklewell Arms, and we can’t wait to catch them live again. See you at the front next time.

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Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut