October PeppermintPatti
(Big Joan, Vile Vile Creatures, Freaky Fortnight):
Cardiff Chapter Arts Centre, 01/10/06

Now, what Peppermintpatti do is great. Really. Plugging female-fronted bands (who - whether you admit it or not -- are still grossly underrepresented on Planet Proper Rock) and providing a safe space for any gender or sexuality you care to name is all very worthwhile, and very necessary. And the acts they put on are top-class, most of the time.

You knew there was going to be a 'but' here, didn't you?

Just occasionally, you get a band who really shouldn't be here, and probably wouldn't be if it wasn't for the presence of a female singer. Freaky Fortnight are one of them. And it's not that they're bad, as such. In fact, they're tight, melodic, solid -- all those reliable, workmanlike, dull dull dull words that can't help but conjure up the mental image of Kelly Jones straining manfully towards the microphone as he faps away at his guitar (a nice, tasteful, classic model -- probably the same one your Uncle Ken who plays in that dodgy pub covers band at weekends has got his eye on, in fact.) They're trying, they really are, and there's no doubt that they mean it, man, but in the end it all just seems a bit... flat. www.myspace.com/freakyfortnight

Vile Vile Creatures - pic Mei Lewis

Manchester's Vile Vile Creatures are a far more exciting proposition. These two geek-grrrls and one bald bloke deal in nerve-shredding, hip-shaking agit-punk. They grin a lot. They shout through a megaphone. The singer dances like she's having a seizure. They even manage to roll out that Emma Goldman quote - yeah, you know, the one about the dancing and the revolution -- without making it sound like a tired shortcut to radical cool. In short, they rule. www.vilevilecreatures.co.uk

Big Joan are deceptively unassuming. In fact, at first I'm wondering what they're doing here, because they look like a nice, normal, clean-cut bunch of young people. You sort of want to go up and ask them whether their mums know they're out in a joint like this. Until they start playing, that is. www.bigjoan.com

I really want to say Queen Adreena, but that's probably just because they're fronted by a mad blonde chick; the vastly-underrated Pornorphans might be a better comparison. Singer Annette croons gently and hollers like she's in pain and bashes the hell out of a metal dustbin she's using as a makeshift drum, and then starts singing through a microphone that's made out of a telephone receiver. And when the rest of the band aren't busy generating crushing walls of sound, they carve out dirty, menacing grooves as good as anything on "Taxidermy" or "Mechanical Animals". It's nervy. It's claustrophobic. It is, to borrow a phrase, the sound of someone losing the plot. But, you know, in a good way.

Jessica Trash

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