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The Donnas / X is Loaded March 2003 Kings Cross Scala

As we enter the Scala, some low-paid, hard working merchie man is putting the finishing touches to the Donnas posters he’s carefully stuck up around the venue. Immediately, an army of teenage girls (and an old man with a walking stick. No, really) charges round the place like a plague of locusts stripping the walls bare. This is teenage fanaticism, enthusiasm, excitement. All of which will come in handy when The Donnas hit us with their stoopid, buzzed up rawk later on.

First up, it’s X Is Loaded. The name has me imaging a drugged-up Johnny X. Unfortunately, the band turns out to be nowhere near this exciting. It’s a load of grungerama boys playing exceedingly tedious effectsy ‘atmospheric’ rock with added noizey sections. It’s like they discovered their older cousin’s student-era record collection; bit of Chapterhouse, bit of Swervedriver bit of Pixies and some grunge. Then nicked all the worst bits. They’ve got the shiney alterno-boy floppy locks and the thrashy, jumpy stuff going on, but this is small compensation for the sound they’re making. Mind you, the old bloke with the walking stick is going mental.

stoopid, buzzed up rawk
We’re gonna key your Mercedes

Some sample Donnas lyrics: ‘I’m callin’ all my ladies/ We’re gonna key your Mercedes’ Yeah! Take that posh scum. ‘I just had to tell all the boys/ That you’d rather have a Mai Tai/ Than a tall glass of Bud Dry’ Yeah! With yer poncey drinks. The Donnas are the scuzzy hard girls from school. You know who I mean. I’m looking at you, Louise Harris, who wrote on my maths book, ‘I’m a Creap’. Ha ha. I wasn’t even that good at Maths, although my English was obviously light-years ahead of old Louise. Anyway, Louise had a fringed leather jacket and dug the sounds of ver Maiden and AC/DC, so she was well-‘ard, alroight?

The Donnas are tough-talkin’, mean-riffin’, hard rockin’. They have beer-drinkers’ bodies. They rule. It’s great to see an all-girl band (no it shouldn’t be an issue in 2003, but face it, pathetically it still is) hurling out full on rock with none of that ‘cute’ incompetence that sometimes hampers female bands. These are women with guitars who aren’t in the least bit girlie.

Guitarist Donna R. pulls effortlessly cool cheesy rock moves whilst dribbling big fat riffs all over the shop. It’s great to see a female guitarist knocking out skreee-widdle solos that could take on Christian Datsun anytime. It prompts visions of the early nineties when there was an onslaught of hard-rockin laydeez; Babes In Toyland, Lunachicks, L7 etc. for us to marvel at and be inspired by.

anti-cheerleader

The thing with The Donnas is that they play insanely catchy AC/DC / Kiss infected rock, which obviously isn’t any kind of innovation, but who cares, the aforementioned Datsuns et al are proving that this stuff’s gonna be eternally popular, if not always in fashion. We get a bumper pack of hair-shaking, bubblegum boogie-ing rock and roll plucked from LPs ‘Turn 21’, and major label newie ‘Spend The Night’. The packaging of the latter tells you all you need to know: teen trash culture filtered through the fifties and seventies (like ‘Happy Days’?) via the eighties. Slumber parties, popcorn, rollerdisco, 8-tracks, heated rollers, er, Freddy Krueger (‘Don’t try to stop me Freddy/’Cos tonight’s a neverender/ Now I’m drinking steady/ Tell your mum I didn’t mean to offend her.’).

diabolical Michael Jackson jokes

Scariest Donna, bassist Donna F. ‘entertains’ us inbetween songs with some diabolical Michael Jackson jokes, delivered in a terrifying rock-girl screech. Singer Donna A (the one who’s real name is Brett Anderson, as every magazine article seems to delight in telling us, ad nauseum. And now I just have) controls the stage like an anti-cheerleader. She doesn’t quite do that thumbs in pockets shoulder-swinging Status Quo jive, but I wouldn’t put it past her. It’s all gleeful snarling fun with big bucks behind it.

A few weeks later at Strange Fruit, much to Paul SF’s apparent bemusement, the place is riddled with free Donnas merch that’s been sent out to entice the cd-buying kids; posters, stickers, badges and in the toilets a fetching array of ‘Spend The Night’ condoms. Don’t mind if I do.

Spend The Night’ condoms
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