review archive

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The D4, The Beatings The Metro, March 29th 2002

Good Friday in London Town. Kitten idly flicks through 'Time Out', in need of some Rock 'n' Roll stimulation. What's this? 'A properly hip hoodoo', you say? 'A raw, brutally simple but devastatingly effective swampy punk blues', you say? 'Twanging strings and clipped, pivot-on-a-dime riffs.' Tell me more. 'Join the crush at this their debut London gig'. Alrighty!

Sporting her lovely new leopard print Conversey low-tops, Kitten trips on down to join an already snaky queue on Oxford Street. The Swampy Punk Blues God is smiling down upon us tonight, as we're the last to be let into the low-ceilinged basement that is The Metro. Behind us, the bouncer turns away the remainder of the eagerly queuing kids. Our hearts crack at the disappointment on their shiny faces, but we carry on down the stairs anyhow.

The Metro is a typical pokey subterranean Oxford Street club, good place for some Rock 'n' Roll though, which is handy 'cos tonight's line-up is being brought to us by, er, The Rock & Roll Club. This is night two of 'The Artrocker New Rock and Roll Summit, 3 sweaty nights featuring the best rockers from around the world.' Cheers.

First up, it's The Beatings, looking like good ole boy extras from 'The Dukes Of Hazzard', or locals from the hicksville hayseed area in which Kitten grew up, all one and the same thing, really. Whatever, they crank out a fine moonshine of scabby-kneed Stoogesy scuff-rock. Spirits raise, everyone settles in for a night of sweaty, alcohol-fuelled, guitar-thwacking exhilaration. Rock!

D4 Rock!

Next we get New Zealand's D4, more of the same and that ain't no bad thing, only this time with added AC/DC. Yeaah! They make full use of the minuscule stage, guitarists staggering about as much as space will allow, even managing to launch themselves from the drum riser without landing embedded in the wall behind the bar. It's an ear-shattering heart-thumping joyful racket. Rock!

In between bands the DJ plays a fine mess of scratchy sounds. And Nancy Sinatra.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs take everything up a few notches more. It's hot and sweaty in here, crowd squished up against each other. The sound is everything 'Time Out' suggested and more, thumping, jumpy, steamy, garagey. There's the odd chiming Velvets touch, the songs instantly danceable, full of catchy, catch you out riffs and stop-start beats. No bass, just drummer Brian, tiny liquorice-stick-thin, hurricane-haired guitarist Nick and ingredient XX, singer Karen O.

Karen is cool in boots; knee-high boots, tight jeans and a ripped and safety-pinned army vest. Shaking her shaggy-straight black hair, swooping and shimmying, ducking and diving, tipping water over her head, smearing her lipstick and laughing lipsmackingly, gleefully between lines, it's impossible to keep your eyes from her.

cool in boots
sexy-aggressive
She has this audience by the scruff of the neck, eating out of her hand, licking her stompy boots. Then there's the voice. It's not just because the DJ played 'Love In A Void' earlier that Kitten detects a fair bit of Siouxsie Sioux in the voice, especially when its taken in conjunction with the moves; the dips, the plunges, the shoulder wiggles. It's a hiccuping holler, a primal scream, heart-squeezingly powerful, propelling the songs from Blues Explosion (Bloooz ExPLOSION!) bump and grind to something that makes a helluva lot more sense to the girls jammed adoringly against the stage.
This is femaleness as it should be, loud, messy, sexy-aggressive, in control. We desperately need more cool rocking women at the moment. Check out all those guitar bands, the media's wetting itself over at the moment, be they British (Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Hoggboy) or American (Strokes, BRMC) or whatever (The Hives, The Vines) it's all boys. There are very few exceptions that prove the rule, Claire from Ikara Colt, Meg White, er...Where are all the laydeez?
That's what makes tonight's grubby garage punk such a revelation. And we all revel in it. Begging for more at the end until we're treated to a final encore of bump, shimmer and shake. Rock. And. Roll.
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