You wait ages for three female fronted (in the case of two of tonight’s bill 100% female line ups too) bands and then three come along at once. Okay, I know there are other testicle free groups out there (and there always has been) but given the fact that ladies make up roughly 50% of the population it’s a never ending source of puzzlement that you see relatively few women only or women dominated bands. Why? Beats me. Answers on a XX chromosome please.
Anyway, this evening kicked off (kicked off being the operative word) with Youth Man, a band that seems to grow in stature by the day (seriously...I saw them four days ago and they were even better this evening). Lead singer Kaila wins the award for wildest performance of the night, succeeding in losing her guitar strap within the first two numbers and ending up on her knees screaming up a storm. They’re more than just a front woman though, this evening drummer Marcus kept up his end by trashing part of his drum kit in the first song and giving it the kind of beating that would probably result in a ten year stretch if drum abuse was a crime. Meanwhile bassist Adam lay down some surprisingly funky bass lines, notably on the band’s self titled song Youth Man.
Early track, Cold, chills the Man out a little, giving us more of a chance to hear Kaila’s more soulful side but it’s last track, the frenetic schizoid Heavy Rain that still steals the show. It’s the kind of tune that makes you want to bounce off the walls until you’ve broken something and I’m pretty sure the drummer was just a beat or two away from spontaneously combusting. Beautiful, blistering carnage.
It’s fair to say that Dublin’s September Girls had some sound problems this evening. In fact tonight the five piece was joined by a sixth member, Felicity Feedback, who stubbornly hogged the limelight for a large part of the set. The vocals seemed very low and muffled too, perhaps as a result of the sound guy trying to silence the ear shredding screech of various bits of audio gubbins doing battle with each other. This was a huge shame but if you could blank out the technical issues their mix of Bangles meets the Go Gos in a 1960’s happening is actually a deliciously intoxicating mix. With psych back in fashion tracks like Green Eyes, which veers towards Stereolab/Broadcast territory, should be on the turntables of hipsters from here to Hoxton.
The drummer was frickin’ awesome tonight too, delivering metronomically meaty beats throughout the gig like Joy Division era Stephen Morris on steroids. I’m guessing (and it’s just a guess) that recreating their sound ‘live’ is a little more challenging for soundmen/women than most groups, get it right though and September Girls could be well be flavour of the month.
If September Girls hark back to psychier times PINS are seemingly lodged firmly in the punk and new wave era with opening number Lost Lost Lost (and indeed much of the rest of the set) bringing to mind Patti Smith at her most potent. Tonight was seemingly the night for technical difficulties as the lead singer’s stand gave up the ghost during the first number causing her to slump to the floor singing into the now flaccid mic. I blame all of that oestrogen floating around this evening. Besides it happens to every mic now and then. Doesn’t it?! Anyway, problem rectified Shoot You came across as a pissed off Nancy Sinatra in a Tarantino movie whilst I Want It All slowed things down to a haunted dirge punctuated by Lene Lovich style yelps. Of course looks shouldn’t really matter when it comes to music but we all know that’s bollocks. One Direction wouldn’t be famous of they all looked like a like the back end of a bus and, rightly or wrongly, it’s even more of an issue with female artists. PINS look good though, exuding a cool sexiness as opposed to the current vogue for exposing as much of your body as possible without the aid of a speculum and team of fully trained gynaecologists smothered in lube. More importantly they seem like mates, exchanging the odd cheeky grin to each other. If the road to fame and fortune is paved with endless nights in the back of a van travelling from one Travelodge to another this’ll come in handy. Much of the set will be familiar to PINS heads but Oh Lord might be new to most. Cleverly fusing the retro pop of the B52s (those “whoooooos” in particular) with punk goddesses The Slits and the shout-tastic Chicks On Speed it’s perhaps one of their most accessible tracks to date. As band and audience gently sweat together the bass player comes out to join us “Always wanted to do that...” Awww bless. It’s not quite a stage dive (well, it’s not quite a stage) but still. With the crowd checked out lead singer Faith ends the show doing likewise passing on the mic for an enthusiastic sing along to Girls Like Us. You’re not wrong there, boys (can I still be a boy at my age?) like you too.