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Rude Mechanicals
Erin KSkinny Girl Diet
Erin K

Antifolk Fest @ 12 Bar Club, London
Saturday November 17




I'm not sure what all this 'Antifolk' stuff is all about. Personally, I tend to be fairly pro-folk, subject to the usual terms and conditions.

In any case, out of the three artists we're about to see, only Erin K could be described by the F-word in any traditional sense. She's seated with an acoustic guitar, a bloke alongside her adding another six stings - so far, very folkie.

It's a low-key thing, but it's good. Erin K's songs are witty and engaging, and even - in the case of the one about the dead rat - oddly moving.

But now it's time to bring on the rock 'n' roll hardware. Bass, drums, guitar and Skinny Girl Diet, who wear an air of offhand disdain, as if they're not about to be impressed by anything the world has to show 'em. But Skinny Girl Diet themselves are rather impressive, rattling out their spiky, abrasive, thump-and-clang garage pop, like a youth club Sonic Youth.

Skinny Girl DietThe guitar fuzzes and scratches like sandpaper roughing up a dining table, the bass thunks out a spare, economical rumble, every note in its own space, the drums crack on as if trying to chivvy the songs along, and the vocals are haughtily scornful throughout.

Skinny Girl Diet might have all the rock 'n' roll hardware, but they also have one other essential piece of rock kit: the attitude.

Headline time. Pay attention at the back, there. Miss Roberts, singer with the Rude Mechanicals, brandishes a mop at the front row and twitches her vaudeville eyebrows. Well, that's one way to get all eyes front.

You remember those Christmas pantomimes you used to see as a child? You remember how there was often a break in the proceedings for some front of the curtain entertainment, when some surrealist and usually faintly scary musical interlude would be enacted before an acre of red velvet?

Well, the 12 Bar Club is a little short of red velvet - black paint and bare brickwork is more the style around here - but the Rude Mechanicals certainly have the surrealist and faintly scary side of things sorted.

The band is a proggy-punky carnival act, violin squawking behind chunky rhythm guitar, rhythms stopping and starting, tangets shooting off all over the place, as Miss Roberts prowls the stage and sings her odd songs about odd people and odd situations.

At times the band kick it up a gear or two and get their rock on - even recruiting a member of the audience to create extra stompiness by thumping a broom handle with a boot on the end on the floor. In that moment, the Rude Mecanicals' performance takes on the air of a voodoo fetish ritual, as scripted by Monty Python.

It's a tribute to the music that none of this detracts from the experience of the Rude Mechanicals as a band - for all the arch, artful craziness, the songs clatter along with much swing and verve, and Miss Roberts is never less than compelling as she fronts her wayward troupe.

Surrealist and scary - yep, they definitely are. But the Rude Mechanicals are also a rather groovy bunch. Just watch out for that mop. And those eyebrows.

Rude Mechanicals



Rude Mechanicals:

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Skinny Girl Diet:

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Erin K:

Website | Facebook




For more photos from this gig, find the bands by name here.

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