Music: Brody Dalle at the Electric Ballroom

Last night I saw Brody Dalle play the Electric Ballroom and can now finally die happy.

Brody Dalle performs at the Electric Ballroom, Camden 24 April 2014

I’d given up hope of ever seeing the Distillers live. The band imploded in 2004 shortly after the release of Coral Fang at the height of my fandom, which sucked but also probably boosted my obsession.

Then Brody seemed to go off into the musical wilderness (in real life having a couple of kids with husband Josh Homme from Queens Of The Stone Age). Her next project with Distillers guitarist Tony Bevilacqua, Spineerette, was short lived; they released an EP in 2008 but have been quiet since.

I wondered if she’d ever tour again and whether she’d ever perform the Distillers. I figured maturity would mean she wouldn’t want to play songs written by her 22 year old self battling a meth addiction and an unhappy marriage to Tim Armstrong from Rancid.

But last night she played all the best off Sing Sing Death House (2002) and Coral Fang. There was less of the snarling and posturing that made me fall in love with her – she’s more grounded and calm, but she still blew me away.

She seemed shy – she hasn’t performed live much since 2010  – not once looking into the crowd, but she still owned the stage with an incredible vocal range that has changed little since the days of the Distillers. You wonder how she’s still able to sing with such ferocity when it sounds like her vocal chords have been steeped in ethanol.

One thing that was depressing, though. The crowd was shockingly tame. There was a limp mosh pit and the few true punks seemed to want to nurse a cold beer more than throw it over anyone. I felt like we were letting Brody down in the worst possible place, Camden, the home of punk.

Whatever has happened to music is a sign of an apathetic culture. It felt like no one in the venue had any punk spirit in them, no fight to give. Brody can explain:

I was so lucky to grow up in the ‘90s. It was the revolution, it really was. There’s such a fucking plethora of amazing music to pick from, from Hole to Bikini Kill to L7 to Babes in Toyland to Elastica. There was Kim Gordon. There were so many women. It was just such an awesome time. I really hope that happens again.

I think it’s been a good twenty years, so, usually things go in cycles. I’m hoping that maybe in the mainstream, female-driven rock ‘n roll or just rock ‘n roll in general kind of gets its place again.

You know? It’s been dominated by dance music and I agree with Shirley Manson actually, she says it’s because of 9/11. And that’s absolutely where things kind of changed. We all got very PC and didn’t want to rock the boat and just wanted to hear meaningless fluff, I guess. I don’t know. I would think that people would run in the other direction.

Where’s the counter culture gone? We’re living in dispossessed times, but that’s what punk was born out of. We need a return of the Riot Grrrls. With feminism becoming part of the mainstream, the timing would be perfect.

Brodie quote from an interview in Bust Magazine.

Music: The Blues Kitchen’s Big Night Out

The Blues Kitchen, Camden’s home of the Blues, put on a blinding night at The Garage in Highbury a couple of weeks ago.

Son of Dave

Dressed in two pairs of shades and a silk dressing gown which he claimed to have bought off Louis Vuitton on the Champs-Élysées, Son of Dave (formerly of Crash Test Dummies) is Delta Blues meets beatbox-harmonica. Grunting and jerking like Lil Wayne, he looped every sound with a foot pedal until he’d built a multi-layered techno blues beat.

Next were the effortlessly stylish two piece Rodeo Massacre. A boy-girl outfit – think Portishead meets Ennio Morricone. Rattle snake percussion set the mood for a performance made for a Santa Fe saloon.

Rodeo Massacre

Rodeo Massacre

In the Roll and Tumble room upstairs, we caught the utterly mesmerizing Marcus Banfonti. Totally smokin’ on the blues guitar, when he growled Gimme Your Cash, I nearly emptied my pockets. He praised the audience for whooping Muddy Waters: “I’m bringing a child into a world where young people scream for Muddy. That makes me very happy.”

And just like bourbon and two whole floors of Rhythm & Blues, it makes me happy too.

The Blues Kitchen’s Big Night Out
The Garage, 20-22 Highbury Corner, London, N5 1RD

The Blues Kitchen, 111-113 Camden High Street, London, NW1 7JN