Friday, 23 October 2015

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Jack Off Jill - Gorilla, Manchester

This week saw Jack Off Jill hit Manchester for the first of their three final shows, all to be played in the UK.

Jack Off Jill might never have been the biggest band in the world, but their cult following has always been strong enough to rival any bands fan base. Although rarely mentioned in articles pertaining to the history of riot grrrl (possibly due to their being based in Florida rather than Washington), their ties to the movement are just as relevant as those from the likes of Bikini Kill and Bratmobile.

The band had already broke up when I first got into them - I bought Sexless Demons and Scars on a whim after liking Jessicka's vocals on the My Ruin song "Miss Ann Thrope". I instantly loved them and, knowing I was three years late to the party, quietly accepted the fact that I would never get to see these songs played live. 

Jack Off Jill announced their reunion earlier this year, and tiny goth hearts all over the world swelled up and leaked black glittery tears. Unsurprisingly, the shows all sold out pretty quickly and the excitement among fans has been building up online.

On reaching the venue, I was instantly struck by how friendly everyone in attendance was, and ended up making a few new friends throughout the night (Hi!). Also, being a Golden Ticket holder, I was lucky enough to meet the band beforehand and they couldn't have been nicer!

The Regrettes, a two-piece from California, are opening for Jack Off Jill on all three of these shows and were the first band to play tonight. They quickly won the crowd over with their surfy-garage sound (think The Aquadolls, Vivian Girls, early Best Coast).

Manchester-based ILL were the second support for tonight's date. While they put on  a good show, a lot of the crowd just didn't seem to get into them, which is a shame. Their frantic feminist post-punk sound reminded me a lot of Voodoo Queens, another underrated UK band, from the 90's.

After an excruciating 30 minutes, it was finally time for Jack Off Jill.  As the band took to the stage, Jessicka was dragged on in a body bag, unzipping herself and launching straight into "When I Am Queen". 

Back in the day, Jack Off Jill became known for their onstage antics, and Jessicka seemed more than happy to indulge this side of her again as she pulled wax crayons from her Star Wars knickers and throwing candy into the crowd.

Listening to the excitement ignited by every song was just more proof of just how much Jack Off Jill's songs mean to their fans (myself included); "Fear of Dying" inspired some of the loudest crowd-singing-along that I've experienced at any gig I've ever been to,  and nothing can compare to the joy of finally getting to see the likes of "Girl Scout", "Angel's Fuck" and "Strawberry Gashes" played live.

When it came to the encore, Jessicka returned, now dressed in white, before being dowsed in fake blood and stripping to her underwear, talking about body-shaming and her own experiences with it, before the band launched into "Strawberry Gashes".

The night ended with the band's well-loved cover of The Cure's "Lovesong".

As a longtime Jack Off Jill fan, this night couldn't have been better and, judging from the people I spoke to afterwards, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't agree with me on that one.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Lemonheads - The Ritz, Manchester

Unshaven and majestically dishevelled, a mysterious purple stain on his white shirt (along with the phrase 'Don't Jizz on Satan'), Evan Dando looks every part the 90's alt-rock-pin-up. Backed up by Todd Philips (drums), Jen Turner (bass) and Chris Brokaw (guitar), the band waste no time once they hit the stage, jumping straight into "Hospital".

While crowd-interaction was decidedly minimal, the band seemed relaxed and happy to be on stage; a stark contrast to the band's 2011 UK tour. Unlike with previous line-ups, this seems like a "real band" as opposed to just the Evan-heads, with Turner's unwavering enthusiasm being nothing less than infectious.

Part-way through the set, the band leave the stage and Dando (joined a few songs in by Brokaw) performs a handful of stripped down tracks, including "Into Your Arms", "The Outdoor Type" and "Being Around". "Frank Mills", sung acapella, was certainly a highlight here, with the whole crowd joining in with every word.

Turner and Philips re-joined the stage for a set consisting mainly of tracks from Come on, Feel the Lemonheads and It's a Shame About Ray, with the crowd bouncing and singing along to classics like "Confetti" and "Rudderless".

Some fans were no doubt disappointed at the band only performing one song - "Alison's Starting to Happen" - as an encore. I was happy, though I may be biased as that's, like, my second favourite Lemonheads song so...