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Live Review

Live Review: The Virginmarys mainlined blues through punk veins with rock & roll reverence on their tour of their EP, Devil Keeps Coming.

The UK live music scene may be on its knees. But on October 15th, a near-capacity crowd flocked to Gorilla in Manchester to kneel at the unholy alter of The Virginmarys as the Macclesfield-hailing band played the home leg on their tour of their critically acclaimed EP, Devil Keeps Coming.

With it being my first Virginmarys show amongst their devout fans, I was unsure of their ability to cut through the usual awkwardness of live music in the new normal. From the very first note of The Meds, any sense of cynicism slipped away. The crowd was instantaneously thrown into animation. Yet evidently, this was no average punk rock pit. Euphoria fuelled the momentum in place of the usual boozy weight-throwing aggravation. Something I’ve scarcely seen unless Riot Grrrl icons and their descendants are gracing the stage. As a testament to how much adoration The Virginmarys garner from their fans, one couple made the 3,000+ mile journey from Ohio to witness the deafening duo tearing up the turf in their hometown.

One thing I will never forget is how it wasn’t just the blues mainlined through punk veins with holy rock n roll reverence that gripped the crowd through the symbiotic dynamism between Ally’s guitars and Danny’s Bonham-Esque drum fills. In every direction, I saw how viscerally the lyricism resonated and psyched the crowd into a frenzy through the wit-deep lines that strip the alienation from political disillusion and mental precariousness.

The acoustic rendition of Sleep was also a tear-jerking memorable feat of the hit-after-hit setlist, which forwent the egocentric inclusion of an encore. I’m fairly convinced that in Ally’s past life, he was a tortured soul from Tennessee. His uninhibited songwriting skills are only matched by his ability to get to the crux of emotions that mostly go unspoken.

If you get a chance to catch them on the remaining legs of their UK tour, take it. You won’t regret it.

Artist Links: Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Twitter.

Live Review by Amelia Vandergast

LIVE REVIEW: The Vaulted Skies at The Angel, Nottingham 24/09/2021

The Vaulted Skies were one of the few bands that became the soundtrack to my insanity during lockdown. When they announced their show at The Angel in Nottingham supporting Lesbian Bed Death, I obviously had to be there in full unashamed fangirl fashion.

Starting with their sludgy hard-hitter, Hollowhead, they instantly asserted their ability to create an atmosphere where hearing the music becomes secondary to feeling it. After a delicate guitar intro that feeds intoxicating post-punk opium vibes, they slammed into an arresting amalgamation of shoegaze, rock and grunge with Molko-Esque vocals that cut above the noise.

Originally it was their gothy dancey hit, Does Anyone Else Feel (Strange)? which ended the set that won me over; the mix of inimitably intricate guitars over a filthy four-on-the-floor beat naturally had me hooked. But with the emergence of their demo release of their slower indie single, Almost Happy, my adoration became far more multifaceted.

Whether they’re creating floor-fillers or stripped-back melodic tracks, there’s a magnetism that proves emotion always comes before ego, which makes it so easy to lose yourself in their sonic alchemy through the sense of unfiltered connectedness.

The Vaulted Skies is easily one of the most criminally underrated alternative acts in the UK right now. Anyone with a proclivity towards pensiveness and pioneering alt-rock should be paying attention.

Listen on YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud

Photo Credit: Rich Lindley Photography

Review by Amelia Vandergast

LIVE REVIEW: PINS + Heavy Salad + Sweethearts at the Parish, Huddersfield, 23/09/2021


Huddersfield may not be renowned as a thriving epicentre of alternative culture; it became one when some of the finest acts that the North has to offer raised the roof of the Parish in on September 23rd.

Hull’s finest alt-90s revivalists, Sweethearts, had the unenviable task of warming up a staunchly miserable crowd determined to reserve their energy for PINS. Even if you could have been forgiven for thinking that the crowd was mostly lobotomised, they persevered with their high-energy set taking every banter-fail in their enigmatically electric stride.

Their live set may have been my first introduction to their music which addictively mixes emotional vulnerability with unfalteringly performative insanity but I was gripped with every volatile second of it. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of Huddersfield heard their massive, cacophonously rhythmic drums, and the instrumental flair didn’t end there. If you can’t resist Pavement’s fuzzy hooks, you’ll find Sweethearts’ distorted hooks to be just as sharp. If you get a chance to see them live, take it.

It was my third time catching Heavy Salad live, and my god, their live performances have picked up extra instrumental grit and vocal soul since we last caught them in Manchester, shortly before the pandemic hit in 2020.

With less talent between them, their cultish wholesomeness would fall into the realms of esoteric novelty, but what Midsommar is to horror, Heavy Salad is to the airwaves. They find a way to add nuance to celestial conversation with vibration-raising mantras nestled into hooky psych-pop hits in a way that no one else could.

It was my first chance to hear some of the material from their currently-in-production sophomore album; it would appear that they have perfected the cosmic guitar-driven pop formula over lockdown. Watching them go from strength to strength following the release of their debut album, Cult Casual, in 2020 has easily been one of the gratifying feats of my PR career.

PINS may consistently get left out of the conversation when it comes to celebrating Manchester’s most iconic acts, but with their arresting, cooler than meth style and endless accolades, what more could you possibly ask for?

From the moment they stepped on the atmospherically lit stage with their post-punk-tinged danceable riffs and protestive lyrics that attack the fetid threads of our social fabric, their unshakeable demureness consumed the room. With the glamour of 60s go-go girls and their fiercely empowered poise, they are one of the few bands that can take influence from the original Riot Grrrls without allowing their sonic vision to feel like history revisited.

PINS took the often divisive girls to the front ethos to the next level with the final track on their setlist, Girls Like Us, by inviting the handful of women in the crowd up on stage to dance with them. How could I possibly refuse? With the outstretched hand of Faith, I grasped the affirmation that their motivation as an artist isn’t just to flaunt their autonomy; it is to extend it to anyone that witnesses it.

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Review by Amelia Vandergast

Nadine Shah brought her broodingly veracious post-punk-tinged soul to the Barbican in a one-off performance of her seminal album, Kitchen Sink.

In our depressively dystopic times where nothing seems to hit the same, Nadine Shah made sure she was the exception from the ennui; from the moment she walked on stage to the tune of synthesised jazzy discord, the atmosphere became just as electric – despite the social anxiety that mostly muted the audience aside from rapturous applause.

In her one-off performance at the Barbican in London on July 18th, she played her jazzy post-punk record, Kitchen Sink, in its entirety before playing what she claimed to be (they are) her ‘hits’. The critical acclaim she received following the release of her album in June 2020 had little impact on her infectious humility that radiates from her unfiltered stage presence.

As a proud owner of all of her records, I still somehow managed to underestimate the immensity of her vocal talent. There are few things in life more visceral than hearing her resounding, Jazzy vocal timbre and Pete Wareham’s demonic sax solos complemented by the acoustics in the Barbican.

Within the male-dominated realms of post-punk, Shah’s misogyny-challenging latest album, as with all of her music, comes with a sense of vindication that feels like a nuanced extension of the Riot Grrrl era. If anyone can kick ass with class, it’s Nadine Shah.

The deliciously rich brooding tones in her fourth studio album are a far cry from the abrasiveness of most artists striving to inspire through their lyricism, and they are all the more efficacious for it.

Grab yourself a copy of Kitchen Sink via Nadine Shah’s website.

Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

LIVE REVIEW: Burning House “Anthropocene” London Release Show

Anthropocene by Burning House

Seabright Arms, London, 19th July 2019

Listening to Shoegaze-influenced bands on record and listening to them live are frequently two very different yet equally mesmerising experiences. Naturally, the run-up to a live set is spent juggling curiosity, uncertainty, and eagerness to witness the alchemy unfurl first hand. Southampton-based four-piece Burning House certainly didn’t disappoint as their melodiously melancholic rhythms transformed into blistering walls of guitar allowing their sound to come alive with more intensity than I could have imagined.

A mix of aural intuition and intrigue for an artist who orchestrates their sound with such an indulgently intellectual pensive approach left me with the compulsion to travel 200 miles to check out the launch show of their latest album “Anthropocene”. With lyricism which sits right in the eye of the metaphysical storm, sapiophiles can get the rare experience of being sated on music alone. Take the track “Mimosa” which was pre-released ahead of the album for the perfect anachronistically articulate example, “Icarus, Icarus, won’t cry anyway, unfurl two wings, your hurried waxen-wings of pride and shame”. Even if you’re dead inside you can appreciate the artful ingenuity.

The bar had definitely been set for Burning House after the three incredible opening acts Hether, Altergaze, and Yumi and the Weather who all brought distinctly different brands of melodic Alt Rock to the stage.

Yet, Burning House gripped the room with searing notes from the distorted guitars which resonated with stomach-knotting disconcertment. Each track independently circumvented sounding like an assimilation of any of the bands from the eras of their influence. It was a stylised smorgasbord of vintage Indie, Shoegaze, and fuzzy erratic Post Rock which anyone with a penchant for 80s and 90s Alt-Rock is sure to appreciate.

While the two guitars, bass and vocals all worked together to carve out magnetic and frequently caustic catharsis, the drums brought a totally new dynamic upon hearing them live. It wasn’t just how intricately and rhythmically the hits bounced from each skin and cymbal, it was the conviction behind each deftly timed aggressive blow aurally depicting an entirely new facet of existentialism. The rest of the arrangement allowed you to appreciate the tremulous nature of the inclination and the drums showed that existentialism often sits hand in hand with unrestrainable rage which spikes through the apathy. Nietzsche would have been proud, not that I can claim to speak for Nietzsche now, but the sentiment still stands.

You can check out the latest album from Burning House for yourselves by heading over to Spotify and Bandcamp where you’ll also be able to grab a copy of the album on CD or on a limited edition 2LP vinyl.

If you’re a bit gutted you missed the debut show, keep up to date with the latest tour dates via Facebook.

Review by Amelia Vandergast


ILL Live Review: The Alchemists of Infectious Aural Disconcertment

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019, Wharf Chambers, Leeds

Admittedly, I shouldn’t have hung around for so long before seeing the Manchester-based powerhouse of genre contortionists who go by the (very telling) name of ILL.

While they may have only played a short set at the Girl Gang event, it was still long enough to get an indulgent hit of their distinctive chaos

Each of the ten acts brought something unique to the stage at the event celebrating the best of Feminist/Queer Punk. Yet, ILL’s contagiously frenetic soundscapes resonated with a mesmeric concordance to the tune of ominous, candid humour. And if they left anymore of an impression on me, I’d be bruised.

There will never be any danger of them swimming in a sea of aural assimilations and clichés. They don’t stop at defying genre restraints; they blur the boundaries of music entirely, allowing their sound to fade into an artform perpetuated by virile well-directed anger.

Of course, there’s been politically relevant music before, especially from the Riot Grrrl movement. Whilst the importance of the pioneers will never diminish, the relevancy of ILL’s music will grant anyone stung by the current political disparity a sweet hit of catharsis. Consider them an antidote to the Daily Mail.

With tracks such as “ILL Song” the insanity of our crumbling NHS has been fed into the carnivalesque sonic layers of sound. If you could imagine the soundtrack to your own worst nightmare, you’d get an idea of how cleverly they use the guitar distortion, keys, and rolling rhythms in their tracks. That’s without mentioning the lyrical hysteria which gives an impression of how our collective mental health is waning as we watch the fabric of our society fray.

Check ILL out for yourselves by heading to Bandcamp, or their official website.

Keep up to date with their latest releases, tours, and news via Facebook

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Luv Dot Gov – Live Review: Electrically Sludgy Power Pop

15th August, the Salty Dog, Northwich, Cheshire

Is there anything more satisfying than catching a band in the uncertainty of their inception and knowing the inevitability of their destination? Probably not, and that’s probably why I didn’t hesitate in heading to one of Luv Dot Gov’s UK tour dates after reviewing one of their singles Pretty Enough earlier this year.

After recording their first studio album At Least We’ve Got This Madness in Edinburgh the New York based five-piece headed to the unsuspecting streets of Northwich to bring their uniquely vibrant brand of Electrically Sludgy Power Pop. Instrumentally, the band’s sound is synergistically electric, and the quality of the sound is so much more than what you’d expect from a band who only came together in 2016. Yet those are relatively minute reasons as to why I’ve come to hold Luv Dot Gov in such high regard in comparison to the other artists I’ve heard this year. It’s the raw emotional honesty of the lyrics which will hit you the hardest. When you get a complete separation of ego and pretence in the lyricism it’s hard not to let the resonance hit you hard enough that you’ll feel bruised. If it weren’t for the pull of the sharp hooks and punchy melodies, then I probably would have shed a tear. Streaming the music is one thing, getting to witness the palpably emotive compositions for yourself is quite another, I’m absolutely certain that no band I’ve seen this year has had that much fun on stage. The rapture was infectious. Morrissey may have had his time making sad songs for happy people. Yet, Luv Dot Gov are prodigally playful enough to take bitter-sweet anthems to the next level.

You can check out the album for yourselves by heading over to Spotify,

Keep up to date with their latest releases and tours by following the stunning collective of aurally veracious via Facebook.

Review by Amelia Vandergast