24th July | Louisiana
Photos: Jess Greenwood
First impressions last.
Band #1 were The Liabilities AD. First impression: wasn’t that guitarist on the Krays documentary last night on TV? Sunglasses in a room with no windows is a bold move. Whatever, this local punk band evoke memories of the Pistols or the Dead Kennedys, are tighter than a duck’s arse, and are easily better than 72.3% of the punk bands out there. End of.
Band #2 were The Menstrual Cramps. First impression: damn, this Bristol-based band has got PLENTY to say. See, a lot of bands call themselves ‘political’. On this, the day that Boris Johnson takes up residence in number ten, every band in Britain probably takes this opportunity to call him something anatomical. Hating the Tories is easy crowd-pleasing, but there is much more to The Menstrual Cramps’ politics than this.
Iggy Pop, John Lennon and Morrissey all come under vehement criticism. The audience gasps audibly on occasion, but you could tell it gets them thinking, and that is exactly what punk rock should do. Certainly, songs like ‘Boyz Will Be Boyz’ couldn’t be more important (“How about you just stop raping us?”), especially in the week following yet another alleged sexual assault at a UK music festival.
Of course, the history of punk rock is littered with bands who have interesting opinions, but who are genuinely terrible to listen to. This, however, is definitely not the case with The Menstrual Cramps. Even missing a guitarist, which reduces the beefiness of their sound, they are still different class. The music is creative and isn’t all 100mph. Vocalist Emilia Elfrida moves effortlessly from prophesying to screaming to bratty sarcasm. The band behind her are tight and just ooze confidence. For those of us in the audience who might have thought that old school punk/riot grrl could never be as thrilling and important as it was back in the day, their set was a gargantuan wake-up call.
The headliners and band #3 were Maid of Ace. First impression: Bristol in Stereo isn’t a haircut-analysing kind of publication, but still we must talk about what is going on atop the head of singer/guitarist Alison Cara Elliott. Quiff at the front, bob down the side, strip Mohican down the back, it is a feat of engineering and no mistake. Bravo.
Maid of Ace are a rather more straight-line punk rock band than the one that preceded them, and the between-song banter is shorter and shoutier (“This one is for you filthy ANIMAAAAAAALS”), but they are just as energetic and exciting. This never feels like punk-by-numbers. Their best moments, though, are when guitarist Anna Coral Elliott uses her instrument to add colour to the sound, as on ‘Monster’, and when they put a little more creativity into the songwriting, like on ‘Hollywood Rain’ and ‘Bone Deth’.
Throughout, though, they are a high-octane machine, fierce and hugely enjoyable. Shout out too to Abby Charlotte Elliott, who is an absolute beast on the skins. Maid of Ace are, without doubt, the most exciting thing to come out of Hastings since the year you-know-what.
First impressions last. Deep impressions were made.
See the video for ‘Minimum Wage’ here: