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Birdeatsbaby at Vigfrid von Underbelly of Hoxton, 14/08/2015

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On Friday night I went to a gloriously intimate gig at the slightly hipster and very bohemian venue Zigfrid Von Underbelly in Hoxton, East London. I went to see the fiercely unique and wonderfully dark indie band Birdeatsbaby, who was supported by two fabulous bands named Zara and Hana Piranha.

The weather that day was abysmal and I ended up wandering around Hoxton Square in the pouring rain for far too long due to my inability to read maps, but when I finally got to the venue it was warm and colorful and the bar staff were very friendly. The gig took place downstairs in the venues room, which had the appeal of being intimate and yet surprisingly roomy, it also had a seating area which was great as most of the time you can’t even dream of sitting down during a gig, especially not in comfortable plushy chairs. It gave the room a great relaxed and chilled vibe, which went really well with the general attitude of the night. The room had snazzy wallpaper, a glittery disco ball, atmospheric lighting and lots of Birdeatsbaby merchandise, including a rather fetching ‘human’ skull.
The stage was small, but still large enough to separate the band from the audience and give them space to jump around, and the venue really reflected the dark yet quirky image of Birdeatsbaby and their supporting bands.

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I got downstairs just in time to hear the first band Zara begin their set. Zara has three band members, a lead female singer on vocals and guitar and two males on guitar and drums. I hadn’t seen or heard them before tonight but I was instantly intrigued by the lead singers voice and outfit.  They had a loud rocky sound and very loud guitars and at first I was a little worried because the instruments were drowning out some of the singing (which would have been a technical issue, not the fault of the band), but it got a lot better as their set went on and I ended up really enjoying their later songs, especially ‘Pretty please‘ and ‘Screaming‘, which had a really good beat and strong lyrics.
I also particularly remember their song ‘Honey inside‘, which had a catchy and memorable chorus and I will definitely need to look up that song and add it to my collection. The lead singers voice was sometimes drowned out by the instruments, but it got stronger and stayed strong during this song and it ended up being a really memorable and energetic start to the night. Check them out and listen to ‘Honey Inside’: https://www.facebook.com/ListenZara

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Next up was Hana Piranha, whom I already really like so am probably a little biased, but I very much enjoyed their set. They are very at ease with the audience, always have great energy and stage presence, and are fun and engaging to watch. They are lively and seem to really get into their songs and give it their all, which in turn makes their audience and fans more engaged with the music. Hana Piranha also has a fantastic, strong and raunchy voice which gives their sound that bit extra and works very well.
I love Hana Piranha’s use of violins in otherwise heavy rock songs, that touch of classical music really adds to the sound and feel of the music and gives it a depth and uniqueness that is missing from a lot of other rock bands (although I am also just a sucker for a violin). They are able to convey a lot of emotion in their songs and often delve into dark themes that you can relate to and empathize with.  As per my last review I again have to mention the song ‘Chipping myself away‘, which I’ve heard several times live but always strikes me as one of their best and most popular songs, and one that I can imagine being played on the radio and attracting a large crowd at an alternative music festival. Another song I have to mention is ‘Blue Sky’s‘, because it has the best violin intro and is instantly recognizable, its another song that you would recognize anywhere as being unique to Hana Piranha and anyone who hasn’t heard it really should.
We also heard some of their newer songs, including ‘Fishing with dynamite‘ which, although I hadn’t heard it before, I can still remember some of the lyrics and ended up humming the tune in my head on Saturday, it was really catchy and I definitely need more of it in my life.
They played several covers on Friday, and I loved how they put a Gothic twist on several well known songs, my favourite being their rendition of ‘Sweet dreams’ by the Eurythmics’. They incorporated the violin to really make the songs their own and give them a unique sound, I definitely ended up preferring their rendition of ‘Sweet Dreams’ to the original. All in all it was a really strong performance that the audience really responded to, and I can’t wait to see them live again. Check them out: http://www.hanapiranha.com/

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The previous acts were fabulous in their own right, but Birdeatsbaby was definitely the main attraction. Featuring their wonderfully ethereal singer Mishkin Fitzgerald, their set was packed with old favorites and much anticipated new songs from their upcoming album which will be released next year. Mishkin is the lead singer of this band and is fantastic both in Birdeatsbaby and as a soloist, but the other band members didn’t disappoint either. Hana Piranha returned to the stage to sing and add her violin to the mix and guitarist Gary seemed to be a favorite with the crowd seemingly just from being himself, throughout the night you had many audience members crying out “Garry!”.
They have been together a while, and you can tell because they have great chemistry together as a band and really seem to enjoy playing together on stage, which is great from an audience point of view as it is much more fun to watch. They played old favorites such as ‘Bullet’ And ‘Drinking in the Day‘ that most of the audience already knew word for word and could sing along to, and as an extra treat they also played some brand new songs including a very enchanting song called ‘No Mirror‘ which I am very excited about and can’t wait for the release.
Mishkin Fitzgerald has a very natural, soft yet powerful voice that gives Birdeatsbaby its unique and slightly otherworldly sound. I have never been disappointed by one of their gigs and definitely plan to attend more in the future.
What I love most about Birdeatsbaby’s live shows is how informal they are, that many of the audience members are friends with the band and the band will watch the previous acts and support them in the audience rather than hiding behind the wings and disappearing straight after their set. They support each other and have a good enough relationship with the audience that we want to support them, that the audience is more like friends then fans. It was a great night, if you are in the London or Brighton area you should try and come along to one of their shows: http://www.birdeatsbaby.co.uk/, if you want to get a real feel of Friday’s show check out some video footage from the night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-k1mM9vV5k

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Penny Dreadful review

I will admit it now, I have a TV problem. As I work during the day and try to be a social member of society  its not too much of a problem, but deep down all I really want to do is drink beer, lie in bed and watch TV shows. Last night I finished my latest TV obsession, the often ridiculous and yet strangely compelling Victorian Gothic horror show Penny Dreadful, so I thought I would write my first TV review on it. This show brings together several well known Victorian horror characters (Frankenstein and his monsters, several characters from Dracula and, best of all, Dorian Gray) as well as the intriguing and often possessed original character Vanessa Ives, a few devils and demons and an American werewolf. Whilst I love Victorians, I’m intrigued by horror and I have an unnatural obsession with Dorian Gray (and Oscar Wilde) I thought at first that Penny Dreadful was going a bit too far, that the story was too random to be good. But I was wrong. You have to suspend disbelief, but for such an array of characters and such an outlandish story (the first season involved, among others, Egyptian hieroglyphics, vampires and the Devil) it actually works really well.

I love the fact that there are no good characters, that they are all complex and have all done quite bad things in their lives, it seems to be a trend recently that people aren’t so much looking at ‘good and bad’ anymore but at ‘human’ and ‘bad’, which I find very refreshing. The most dislike able character, for me at least (although the second season makes him a little more human) is Sir Malcom Murray, a colonialist whose selfishness was partially responsible for his sons death in Africa, although I find the inclusion of colonialism (and a description of some of its horrors) refreshing in a story about Victorian London, as many times it seems to be downsized quite a lot despite being extremely important to the time. Victor Frankenstein is intriguing in a kind of lost, little boy way and his creations are the most interesting and philosophical Frankenstein monsters I have encountered thus far, Vanessa Ives is awesome, is a great, strong and messed up female character and plays being possessed very convincingly (whoever starred in the exorcist should be jealous). Billie Piper is great as the Irish Consumption ridden prostitute and perhaps even better in her new role in season 2 (watch it, I won’t tell you what happens) and I may be biased but I love that Dorian Gray is a character in this show, and especially that he is shown to have multiple male and female partners (the days of ignoring Wilde’s obvious homoerotic references in that book are officially over) although I do hope if they ever show his back story they don’t deviate too much from the original. The show is quite sexually explicit in a Game of Thrones style way, and I am very happy that it is inclusive and doesn’t appear to see sexuality as an issue. The sexual explicitness and often foul language is refreshing to see in a Victorian setting, and it doesn’t hurt that several of the characters are very attractive.

All in all, if you want something simple, realistic and normal don’t watch the show, but if you want to disband disbelief, expand your knowledge of victorian horror and become severely addicted, you need Penny Dreadful in your life.

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Indie Noir at The Islington 17/07/2015

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Last night I went to an Indie Noir live music event at The Islington in Angel, London. It was organised by the fabulously unique and talented Mishkin Fitzgerald and featured live music from four diverse singers and bands from the dark side of indie music, as well as art work by my friend and uber talented artist Audrey Bishop who draws the best and weirdest faces, and stunning masquerade-esque masks and merchandise by costume designer Hippy Poppins. The night was dedicated to celebrating independent artists who explore the dark and melancholy side of life through music, art, fashion and film, and the atmosphere was set by the black drawn curtains and a showcase of clips from black and white horror films which was displayed in the background throughout the night, the artwork was displayed on the walls and everywhere you looked there was something ‘noir’ going on.  Some of the audience came dressed for the occasion in dark and gothic clothes which I loved as I adore goth fashion, but there were also people in jeans and t-shirts and everyone was equally accepted.

The great thing about intimate live music shows as opposed to large overcrowded gigs is that the performers and audience are so much friendlier and relaxed, you all have something in common just by being there and it is such a laid back and accepting environment. You genuinely feel more like friends than fans, and for someone of my height you can actually see the stage most of the time! It was a really good night, I highly recommend each and every one of you check out the following performers regardless of whether you normally listen to gothic rock or not, because last night there really was something for everyone.

First to perform was Mishkin Fitzgerald, the lead singer of BirdeatsBaby who last night played an acoustic solo on the piano. I am a big fan of her and her band and I’d seen her perform several times, but I’d never seen her soloing before and yet again she exceeded expectation. This woman’s talent is truly something else. she has an incredible voice and the ability to perform songs in a way that is otherworldly and yet totally relatable. Her first song of the night titled ‘Sailors Wife’ tells a melancholy story with powerful imagery that,although she may be singing about abstract far away characters, you feel you can personally relate to and understand. Her songs convey real and often tragic emotion and have the power to move you, sadden you and even make you angry, and her writing style is elaborate and filled with dark and thought provoking imagery that is truly timeless and sometimes even has a neo Victorian feel.
Its hard to pigeon hole her into an exact style of music, some that come to mind are dark caberet, dark wave and orchestral rock but she has a really diverse set of songs and has something to offer pretty much anyone who likes deep, powerful, imaginative lyrics and beautiful female vocals. We also got to hear three brand new songs from her tonight that I am very excited about and can’t wait for the release. I honestly can’t rave about her enough, she is fabulous and you really ought to check her out :https://mishkinfitzgerald.bandcamp.com/

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I’d never actually seen or heard of the next band in the running order before, and Sumers loud metal guitar music was quite a change from Mishkins accustic ballads, but I definitely got into them and found myself dancing along to the music. They had a diverse set  of songs that were lively, full on and exciting and were excellent to head bang to, the audience really seemed to like them and they had a great attitude.
Again, their sound was hard to pinpoint into one genre and having looked them up they refer to their style as “post metal and progressive rock” which sums them up pretty well., some of their songs reminded me of some of Muse’s better work, and I especially enjoyed their song ‘The Animal you are’ (check it out!). They were a lot of fun to watch on stage, had great energy and a great repertoire with the audience and were very likeable, plus one of the guitarists was a beautiful, beautiful man, and I’m definitely going to listen to some more of their stuff.  Look them up:  http://www.sumerband.uk/

The third band of the evening was female fronted Cherry White, who were instantly likeable, had great energy and had great stage presence, especially the lead guitarist. They seemed really confident and at ease with the audience, and they talked to and joked with the us and seemed really at home on the stage. They performed like they were having a great time and really immersed themselves in their songs, and it was great to see.  Cherry White played a mixture of blues, rock and even had a slight country sound at one point and often had the audience dancing away.
They played an anti austerity song, which although it may not be entirely consistent with my own views was very catchy and honed in on Camerons often dubious claims that we are “all in this together”,  and I really loved their song ‘Staring at the Sun’. They played a mixture of upbeat and foot tapping blues and more melancholy, angry rock songs and I loved how versatile they were. I think with a slightly better sound technician they could go really far, as the one negative thing I would say for them is that the instruments were a little too loud so you couldn’t always understand the lyrics, which was a shame as they were well written. All in all though, they had great energy and charisma and you should definitely look them up:   http://www.cherrywhitemusic.com/

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The fourth and final act was Hana Piranah. She is an extremely talented gothic rock singer and violinist, and I love how the violin was incorporated to the more rocky sound of some of her songs, it was a great mixture of classical and rock and sounded awesome. She has also mastered the violin and I hear that is rather difficult. They were passionate, professional and a lot of fun to watch
She has a very powerful and strong voice, and even though she said it was her first time playing guitar on stage she really stood out as one of the best acts of the evening, and I can’t wait to hear her more of her songs. One of the three band members bared quite a resemblance to Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance which although it may have looked like a gimic looked really good on him, and as I love men in those kinds of clothes I wasn’t about to complain.
.One of the songs from their set  titled ‘Chipping myself away’ was so catchy that I still have it caught in my head! It was clearly a favourite with the audience and I can see it being played on the radio and tv, its a really good song and you people shouldn’t miss out on it: http://www.hanapiranha.com/

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I would seriously recommend  that anyone in the London area who appreciates good music and art regardless of whether they normally listen to these genres of music should come along to the next Indie Noir night and celebrate the strange, the sad and the beautiful side of indie music and art.

Check out Hippy Poppins: https://www.facebook.com/hippypoppinsshop and http://www.etsy.com/shop/hippypoppins

Audrey Bishop’s fabulous art work: http://audreybishop.co.uk/, https://www.facebook.com/audreybishopart?fref=ts