She Makes War
Saturday October 12 2013
It's hard for an opening act to prod a sparse early-doors crowd into some sort of reaction, but with a combination of an upbeat demeanour, a neat line in loops 'n' effects folk-pop, and a marching drum she bought on eBay, Laura Kidd (who is She Makes War) manages to warm up an initially hesitant Underbelly.
Her songs are insistent things, quietly assertive in
the way they get under the skin of the listener, while Laura's between-song
banter, as she switches instruments and gets her loops revolving, is engaging
and inclusive. It's as if she's playing to a bunch of mates. Perhaps Laura
Kidd should rename herself She Makes Friends.
If Laura Kidd draws the audience in, Hana Piranha holds the crowd at arm's length and gives it a disdainfully appraising stare. She's a frosty, spiky, don't-mess-with-me rock performer, her fundamental rockness in no way compromised by the fact that she plays a violin. She shreds and grinds like a one-woman Queensrÿche, and rips out a vocal that practically strips the wallpaper.
Her band brew a suitably rockin' backing
racket, while keeping their noses clean and their heads down.
I see they're an entirely different bunch from the last Hana Piranha gig I caught. They either have a lot of bizarre gardening accidents - or quite possibly Hana Piranha eats musos for breakfast She's certainly fierce enough.
It's appropriate, in a way, to find Birdseatbaby in
this East End basement, for there's something almost Dickensian and street
urchin-ish about this band. They're like a bunch of troubadours, plying their
melodramatic cabaret numbers around the night spots of la belle époque. A
hundred-odd years ago
they would've been
on the halls. Now they're wedged under a Shoreditch bar, and the époque probably
isn't quite so belle. But we do what we can.
Birdeatsbaby songs are works of hand-staple-forehead histrionics - like the swaying, swelling, 'Feast Of Hammers', or rousing, up-and-at-'em singalongs - like 'Incitatus', with its chorus shouts and walloping drums - or, occasionally, wistful little things like 'Ghosts', which arrives in tonight's set like a cloud darting unexpectedly over the sun. The band handle the mood changes with unfailing, unflappable cool, and much sparky audience engagement from Mishkin Fitzgerald, the group's lead singer and pianist, who conducts the proceedings from her keyboard stage-right.
It's interesting to ponder that although a band like Birdseatbaby probably couldn't have happened without punk rock happening first, they're some way outside the usual boundaries of rock 'n' roll.
Their frothy cabaret pulls in influences and ingredients from all over the landscape. And I like the way they distil it down.