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Las KelliesLas Kellies
Concrete, London
Monday October 21 2013




A minimalist industrial cavern underneath a Shoreditch pizza restaurant, Concrete looks like someone's tried to recreate the Hacienda on a restricted budget.

At any rate, the venue is well named - practically every surface is brutalist grey, while contstruction site lamps glow overhead. Of course, maybe all this building site chic isn't actually decor. Quite possibly they just haven't finished building the place yet. But this stark cellar is where Las Kellies are throwing down their grooves. Let's hope they warm things up a bit.

By accident or design, there are no support bands. Strange, for there must be a hundred bands in London who'd jump at a support slot tonight - and most of them would probably boost the numbers a bit, too. Although there's a respectable crowd in front of the stage by the time Las Kellies eventually emerge, the venue is never particularly packed.

That's strange thing number two, for the band are on something of a roll at the moment. Their new album has been getting favourable reviews all over the media, tunes from it have been popping up on the radio. On the Las Kelliesface of it you'd expect this to be some sort of breakthrough moment for Las Kellies, but I suppose there's a difference between getting a good reaction in the media, and getting a good crowd in to a brutalist basement in Shoreditch on a Monday night. You can have one or the other, but it ain't easy getting both.

Still, here they come, the three Kellies, reserved and defiantly un-flamboyant, intent on getting the job done. There's no big 'Hello London!" - they just troop out and get stuck in. Their rhythms - and Las Kellies are all about the rhythms - bounce around the concrete cavern, random reverbs lending a dubby subtext to the band's clattering grooves.

The drums are economical, defining the spaces between the beats rather than the beats themselves; the bass doesn't put a foot wrong. The guitar interposes slashes of sonic punctuation, while the vocals float around the rhythm like seagulls wheeling around the mastheads of a schooner. It's infectious, this all-corners music, the songs darting this way and that as if trying to find their way out of a maze. The band's live sound is also significantly harder than the recorded stuff, where production polish smoothes out some of the angles. Live, Las Kellies are all angles, and better for it.

Everyone who reviews Las Kellies mentions the band's debt to The Slits in their space-reggae incarnation, and/or the influence of the uncluttered meta-funk of ESG - and, frankly, it's probably impossible to mention Las Kellies without also noting where they're coming from, musically. But in the context of twenty-first century post-punk, where every other band seems to be chanelling Joy Division, it's refreshing to find Las Kellies casting their net in another part of the post-punk lake entirely, and hauling in some alternative influences.

Maybe it's a female thing: if Las Kellies were a bunch of blokes, perhaps they'd go for the more usual leather-jackets-and-pounding-rock-music stuff. But Las Kellies are a bunch of girls, and they've gravitated to the nimble, spacious rhythms and supple agility found on the funkier fringes. I bet they dig Shriekback, let's put it that way. Cool stuff - and yes, they did heat up the night.

Las Kellies: Facebook

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Las Kellies

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.