An eagerly awaited gig. For a band that has been around for ten years plus, it is some what annoying to note that I have not seen them up until this point. The show, in Manchester’s “trendy” Northern Quarter, is the first date of a lengthy European tour supporting the recent album Nosebleed Weekend and forthcoming EP Parasite. The need for a pre-gig loosener in the Lower Turks Head (the bar prices in the venue are a tad excessive) and a bite to eat at Dough means we miss the first support act and only catch half of the second one. Our waitress at Dough is in a band, it’s a small world!
Julia Kugel (guitar, vocals), Meredith France (bass, vocals) and Stephanie Luke (drums, vocals) are a potent live unit delivering high tempo, catchy, American punk. Lead vocal duties rotate between Kugel and Luke, the former, with her higher register, suffers from a muddy mix, where as Luke tougher punk growl breaks through the sound fug in the N & D. Kugel’s funky head shake and arresting personality drives the thing forward but they are very much a unit and the whole exceeds the sum of the parts. I was expecting a little heavier/darker sound given the content of the album I first encountered of theirs – 2011’s Larceny and Old Lace. There has perhaps been a change in overall direction due to the change in studio/producer for the latest album, or perhaps it’s a more mature approach to the music. There’s no flash or thrills, it’s four to the floor, heads down punk, with a degree of swagger, but also with a popular element, some tasty riffing and clever tempo changes. At some point, probably due to the combination of Timothy Taylors Landlord, Rioja, and binge watching of Riverdale the phrase “A Josie & The Pussycats for the Ramones Generation” emerges from the back of my mind. In hindsight that somewhat undersells a band which has energy, passion and a lot going for it.
The crowd which varied between year zero survivors and more younger gig goers lapped it all up and the appreciation for the band grew as the set progressed. The closing numbers saw the band swapping instruments with Kugel and Franco taking the drum stool in successive numbers and Luke taking the lead for an impressive punky drum and bass work out. At some point The Punk Zelig gets his photo taken with Julia and Stephanie photobombs them, and of course he also gets to utter the immortal phrase “I Was A Teenage Propshaft”.
Me, well I stood at the bar and absorbed it all from a distance and found it very enjoyable.
Photos by Mr Stephen Doyle……