by Little Miss B, 1st March 2010. All photography by Layla Smethurst for The Girls Are...
Bracelettes + PENS + Wetdog + Veronica Falls @ Goldsmiths Ladyfest.
DJ by Girl Germs.
Thurs 25th Feb 2010.
DJ by Girl Germs.
Thurs 25th Feb 2010.
Regular readers will know this is the year of Ladyfest Ten, an anniversary celebrating a decade of lady action, achievements and general awesomeness. Not due to take place until November, expect to see a legion of associated events in the run up. Just like last week's Ladyfest, hosted by the wonderful senoritas at Goldsmith's. The fourth night of a five day run saw inspired line-up, Bracelettes, PENS, Wetdog and Veronica Falls take to the stage. Arriving to an alarmingly empty student union, it was not long before the simple pleasures of such a night became apparent: sofa to sit on, a pint of cider for a mere £2.20, and a smorgasbord of lady-tunes provided by DJ's Girl Germs. Nice. After a brief soundcheck, first support Bracelettes kicked off the proceedings with gusto.
This undeniably charming, London based three piece consists of Ayako (guitar + vox), Satori (bass + vox) and Mark (drums), and I am ashamed to say this is the first time I've seen them live. Another one of those low-fi bands you stumble upon on Myspace, they far outstrip the majority of their contemporaries in terms of flair and skill. With matching bass and guitar, they skipped through a short but accomplished set, never faltering. Their simplistic, surf-inspired, garage rock calls, clearly display a certain level of ardor. This band are tight, slick and well-rehearsed, yet retain a sense of playfulness and spontaneity: a skill in its own right. Obvious comparisons would be to Mika Bomb and the 126.96.36.199's, with the Bracelettes ladies echoing the rabble-rousing girl chants that Japanese garage rock bands do so well, yet there is a heck of a lot more to these guys. Heavily tattooed Mark, pounding relentlessly at the drums, drove each song smack into the audience, as Ramones-esque bass lines and guitar riffs punctuated the beat. Sharing vocal duties, the girls revelled in playground cat-calls, and we the audience could not help but smile. So popular and impressive were they, we ended up losing our seats, space and prime position as the room filled with keen-bean, old and new fans. Definitely one to watch.
After a brief and stressful trip to the packed bar, The Girls Are favourites PENS were the next band to step up. They played a fantastically chaotic set, with timings and vocals going awry, but as ever, it did not matter. Always managing to stay just the right side of the DIY/low-fi aesthetic vs. just plain shit divide, they cruised through their set with nonchalance, flippancy and a very visible sense of fun. I love a multi-instrumentalist. I love a band who swap instruments. I really do. Now, the PENS ladies can never be described as being particularly proficient on each instrument, but to do so would be to disregard the very thing that makes this band so frackin ace. Consummate crowd-pleasers, and purveyors of some of the catchiest songs I know, it was a crying shame that the vocal levels were sub-par. Without full vox, these songs can become slightly repetitive. However, they were close to the best I have seen them, and yet again, PENS never fail to disappoint.
Wetdog were clearly and irrefutably the most interesting and entertaining band of the night. If you have not seen this three-piece before, I firmly suggest you do so, post-haste. With their undulating, deliciously menacing basslines, their antiquated, eerie guitar parts, and their bizarre, haunting call and response vocals, they sound like no other band I've heard, despite what every review written about them would like us to believe. A vampiric Vivian Girls, a haunted Huggy Bear, all fall short of what this band actually capture. Marching, rhythmic, and brilliantly elemental, the core and crux of this band is their kinship to the human heartbeat, the rhythms of our own bodies, so that even when off-kilter, it is impossible to resist tapping a foot, or nodding one's head when these ladies play. Yet, they remain firmly tongue in cheek, never succumbing to the uber-serious and somewhat tedious discussion surrounding them. What was an interested audience quickly metamorphosed into a frenetic crowd soon after Wetdog launched their musical assault.
As ever, Veronica Falls played a faultless set. It would be misleading to state that they get better with each viewing, as this might somehow imply they were ever anything less than impeccable. Beguiling and majestic in equal measure, the Comet Gain-loving four piece managed to get everyone up on their feet, the revellers swamping the band, leaving one big party pit that continued on through the night. Need we say more?
A huge and resounding well done to the organisers of this event.
You should be proud as punch.
To see more photo's from the night, please click here.