Wednesday 19 November 2014

The Coathangers, Skinny Girl Diet, Abjects at The Shacklewell Arms - 15 November 2914

The Coathangers

The first thing you notice tonight is the quality of the lighting. There’s a harsh filter that renders the performers almost monochrome. Glaring black and white figures against the blood red curtain. It’s a great effect, although it doesn’t suit everyone.

So Tess Parks, long black hair, black lined eyes and a striped jumper resembles nothing so much as a figurine from a Tim Burton animation. Stick thin, huge eyes, she doesn’t look real. She plucks at a guitar and rasps with a throaty growl.  A good start.

I saw Abjects at the beginning of the year and didn’t go hugely overboard for them. In the ten or so months since they’ve grown beyond measure.

Noemi, Yuki and Alice are utterly commanding tonight. Where before there were hints of uncertainty, they now exude confidence. It’s not a radically unusual sound, but it’s put over really well and the crowd start to buzz with the joy of it all.

The lighting gives Noemi a set of cheek bones that could cut you open. Yuki smiles beneath a woollen cap that makes her look like PaRappa the Rapper. Alice clatters away at her drum kit. Good times.

Skinny GirlDiet get better each and every time I see them. In a world where most girl bands play pop, SGD unashamedly ROCK. They have enough grunge to sink Seattle.

The crowd starts to mosh about, a rolling churn. The girls are as relaxed as ever, laughing at private jokes. They look great, they sound great, they ARE great. Skinny Girl Diet are one of the best bands in Britain, let alone the London area.

The Coathangers are an odd bunch. They have a strange combination of chaotic goofiness and a heads down almost Ramones-like dedication to a no nonsense riff.

Julia Kugel sings half her songs in a childish ickle-girl voice that is deliberately infuriating. Such songs are accompanied by much gurning and flapping of hands.  She only does it as the music demands, because other songs are roared out like a banshee.

Stephanie Luke becomes the second drummer that I’ve seen at this venue that has trouble with the lighting. It’s clearly an ongoing problem. Once this is solved she batters and barks through the entire set.

The Coathangers are funny, fierce and everything that an all-gal band should be. They even do that thing that seems exclusively the preserve of girl bands – the swapping of instruments so that everybody gets a turn either banging the drum kit or strumming the guitar. It’s an odd phenomenon, girls like to share whilst boys tend to be more possessive about their gear.

A riotously enjoyable set and a fine conclusion to a very good evening.

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