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Skinny Girl Diet

Barfly, London
Friday January 3 2014


There I was, thinking that Introverts was a pretty awful band name. Well, here come Abjects to claim the prize. What is it with these bands and their timid, fearful, don't-mind-us-we're-a-bit-crap-anyway names?

The silly thing is, Abjects are a lot better than their name might have the casual observer believe.

AbjectsAn all-girl power trio, they make fuzzy, spiky, garagey pop out of guitar, drums, vocals, and plenty of space.

There's a no-frills sparseness to their music, like a barely-furnished room, that's strangely appealing, and a cool reserve to the band's on-stage demeanour that works rather well.

Not abject at all, then.

Talking of all-girl power trios, here comes another one. Skinny Girl Diet are on a journey that starts in the thick of the London riot grrl zone and ends...well, somewhere in grunge-infected Seattle, it seems. At any rate, the band has certainly undergone a transformation from the rather ramshackle ingénue outfit of their earlier gigs into the sardonic, caterwauling rock monster we experience tonight.

Skinny Girl DietThe drums shove everything along - the drummer is the only one of the band to look like she's having fun: the other two maintain expressions of exquisite disdain throughout - while the guitar grumbles and fuzzes and the vocals set up an crawling, drawling, sardonically dragged-out plaint that owes more to Courtney Love's kvetching on early, punky, Hole releases than anything from quaint old London, England.

Skinny Girl Diet make a very good grunge-grind outfit, and their not-impressed-with-anything attitude is oddly refreshing in a world where many bands seem a bit too desperate to be liked. But I'm not sure why they seem to be turning American in the process.

And now, an all-boy power quartet. Bringing the noise like a slightly less psychotic version of The Birthday Party, Dressmaker kick up a towering barrage of noise that goes through the human brain like a set of drain rods.

Hunched into sillhouettes under the stark white lighting, they're a rock band stripped to the scaffolding, a frill-free exercise in reductionism and gleeful noise.

The singer oscillates between a seething intensity and a bizarrely disarming amiability. One minute he's an affable chap, addressing the audience in a conversational tone, then, as the guitar brews up like a jet engine and the bass 'n' drums come over all tribal wardance, he's a freaking, hollering son-of-Iggy on all kinds of overdrive.

Somewhere in Dressmaker's repertoire are the battered carcasses of catchy tunes you can whistle. Yes, there are definitely songs somewhere under the sonic blast, but they're buried deep by the sheer noise of Dressmaker at full throttle. There's even a burst of yer actual pop music in the form of a cover of The Ronettes' 'Be My Baby', which stands up surprisingly well to the Dressmaker noise-assault.

But then, perhaps the band aren't quite as far from classic pop as they might seem. They've certainly got their own wall of sound. Phil Spector would probably dig what Dressmaker do. Either that, or he'd shoot them.



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For more photos from this gig, find Dressmaker and Skinny Girl Diet by name here.

Page credits: Words, photos and construction by Michael Johnson. Nemesis logo by Antony Johnston. Red N version by Mark Rimmell.

Words and photos in Nemesis To Go by Michael Johnson are licenced under Creative Commons. You may copy and distribute this material, or derivations of it, provided that you give a credit to Michael Johnson and a link to Nemesis To Go. Where material from other sources is used, copyright remains with the original owners. All rights in the name 'Nemesis To Go' and the 'N' logo are retained.