Monday night at the Echo was an all-girl night, three bands back to back, they all were 100% girls and they all kicked ass, what about that for a girl power night? Interestingly, and not very surprisingly, there were a lot of guys in the attendance.
Lydia Night & Marlhy Murphy opened the night as Pretty Little Demons, and I remember seeing these two girls playing at Amoeba two years ago, they were 12 and 10 at the time, and last night, they seemed all-grown up and much taller, however still incredibly young to have a band! They write their own songs and perform like grown ups with the attitude and a bit of screaming, just at the right place. Lydia Night is the dynamic guitarist and main singer, while Marlhy, the youngest, hides behind her drumset looking totally in charge while pushing the vocal harmonies. For a two-piece band they were loud and brought a lot of energy in their garage-rock-pop songs with catchy riffs and sweet girl-group harmonies. There was something a bit retro in their songs, surfy and bipolar, starting sweet and tender then speeding up and going furious the next minute, a bit like this other darling-of-the-critics teen band Cherry Glazerr. Two years ago, they had invited The Donnas’ Brett Anderson and X’s Exene Cervenka on stage for a song, then greatly impressing the crowd with a cover of Hole’s ‘Violet’! There was nothing else to say, they were declared rock little princesses right away, although they consider themselves as little demons. And I totally understand why, they put a lot of punk energy in their performance and even their idea of slowing down was not a quiet ballad but rather some dark pop tune. Meanwhile the girls were noticed by British singer/songwriter Kate Nash, who enlisted her won producer, Tom Biller, to co-produce Pretty Little Demons’ second full length record which will be released in 2015. The two girls closed their set with a ferocious punkified version of ‘Teenager in Love’, as if the future had this strong retro fiber still deeply rooted in punk.
Next was Queen Kwong, and if there is one thing frontgirl Carre Callaway makes clear right away, is that you should never mess up with her. She is a very powerful performer, and knows how to raise the energy level of the room in a very short amount of time, looking like an ice storm in hell. With or without her guitar, she shakes, she bent, she screams with a badass girl attitude and a tireless determination over a sort of psychedelic distortion. She sure took the place by surprise and her band was serving her fearless and intense performance quite well with a lot of guitar pedals making distortion and dissonance. Her set was raw and angry, aggressive and sexy, and of course she removed her see-through poncho before the last song, jumped in the crowd, and rubbed herself against a few guys. This is a very confident and bold woman with fire in the belly, reinventing a riot grrrl number with a sort of cold approach and vocals going from tough to sweet.
At 17 she became Trent Reznor’s protégé, opening for Nine Inch Nails at arena shows for their 2005 Teeth tour, and looking totally unprepared as she has admitted since. After a hiatus, she is back with a vengeance and this time she serves you visceral violence wrapped around emotional primal yells at each song. She came up with the term Meowcore (she loves cats) and now that I think about it, she had that aggressive-feline presence on stage, ready to jump at your throat to scratch you at any moment
Pins, the girl quintet from Manchester, was closing the night, and if their version of girl power was a bit more contained, they were nevertheless extremely determined in their delivery, bringing a more upbeat sound. Some of their most surf-pop songs had a the-Go-Go’s-meet-the-B-52’s feel with bouncy rhythms and plenty of great guitar riffs, whereas I may have heard some Velvet influences in their darker and drone-bound ones. However they cite Hole and The Jesus and Mary Chain as main influences, so I must have been a bit mistaken but they certainly had something of the 80’s and 90’s. Sonically, The Guardian has qualified them as ‘atypically Mancunian’, and as ‘the most Brooklyn band ever to come from Manchester’. This is exactly how I felt, they didn’t sound that English and they had a sort of punk-post-punk look, which made me immediately think about Debbie Harry.
Singer Faith Holgate was making with cute little noises and looked like the most decided of all the girls, holding her guitar like the British invasion (quite normal) jumping and bouncing non-stop with her platform sandals. With their blend of retro and modern punk, they managed to open for Sleater-Kinney during their last tour, which is probably not an easy task to accomplish. An all-girl band opening for an all girl-band, just imagine the competition! But Pins doesn’t even want to look or sound like the cool trio from Olympia, they want to have fun, delivering harmonies over pop melodies, speeding up at time without going overboard, bringing head banging with a real noise punk inspiration, while letting the power chords have the best part.
The best proof they wanted to have fun? They closed their set (before an encore with a Misfits cover) by dedicating the song to ‘all the girls’, crowding the stage with some good-looking gals from the audience and injecting in their song ‘Girls Like Us’, the famous line from the Cindy Lauper’s girl anthem ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’.
And it’s not because you are from the Manchester scene that you should not record in the US, Pins actually recorded their second album ‘Wild Nights’ (which came out on June 9th via Bella Union) in Joshua Tree at Rancho De La Luna with Dave Catching (QOTSA, Eagles of Death Metal) and Hayden Scott, while Ben Baptie mixed it in New York at Atomic Sound NYC (Mark Ronson). A lot of American influences at work!
Despite the glitter around the eyes, the girl party ambiance, and the apparent simplicity of the title of their songs, this didn’t seem to be a frivolous party at all and these girls seemed to be asking for independence from their Manchester roots.
Lost Lost Lost
House of Love
Get with Me
Curse These Dreams
Got it Bad
Too Little too Late
Dazed by You
Waiting for the End
Girls like us
I was happier because I knew I was happy
a snapshot of big hits and high tides, mostly high tides.
There is just a lot to love
the sound seemed to erupt from every side of the room
still on top
“danceable music for the end of days”
contracts its world in Nashisms
let’s take what we are offered
It’s the music, stupid