09 July 2017

Gig Review – The Soapgirls, Dead Happy & Year Zero, Dares Bar Birmingham, 8th July 2017

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In theory I was off duty last night, just a night out in Brum to check out a gig. But I can’t help myself, out comes the camera and words whirl in my mind. The location was Dares Bar, just off Hurst Street. Nice little venue, just right in terms of size and some good ales on tap. A good start. Three band were lined up for the punters with the headline slot going to The Soapgirls, a group probably used to grabbing headlines of various sorts.

Year Zero got things going with their no nonsense and solid punk rock delivery. Well written tracks with solid hooks and riffs delivered by this hard working four piece. A confident local outfit who got the crowd moving despite being on early.

The filling in tonight’s sound sandwich are Dead Happy, a band who’ve been on my radar for a few years as I used to slip the odd track into my radio show of that time. This West Midlands act performed as a two piece tonight, missing their usual bassist, but you wouldn’t know as they still fill the place with their presence, humour and sonic hyperactivity. They punch hard and fast with a sound that lurks somewhere between Mindless Self Indulgence and Petrol Bastard. They also share a penchant for a bit of 90s cheese with current scene favourites Syd.31, shown tonight in the form of a mash up of Saturday night nightclub favourites. Sure, this raises a few smiles and gets backsides wiggling but I personally prefer their offkilter original material performed in all its dayglo bonkers glory. Very entertaining indeed.

I’ll point this out now. The SoapGirls have been in the audience pretty much all night, glammed up and attacting much attention from fans and responding to this attention with smiles and genuine warmth. However, they are there to watch, support and enjoy the other bands on the bill which always gets my admiration. No doubt they are a divisive band who court controversy. Any band that presses the buttons of prudes and conservatives will always rattle cages, and a (dual) female fronted band who choose to sometimes play topless are always going to get some accusers claiming they are getting attention and fame through titillation over talent. However, these detractors are likely thinking too hard and I would say are missing the point somewhat, as further supported by the fact that their troupe of fans known as the Soap Suds are clearly not populated by ogling middle ages chauvinists..

Pressing on, the charming and glamorous girls from the crowd are replaced by two grotesque masked guitar wielding provocateurs on the stage, backed up by a third member on drums. These French born South African based girls aren’t JUST here to look sexy and pretty, they are here to have their fun and entertain in exactly the way they please. Songs come thick and fast, deftly executed punk and grunge hybrids with viscously barbed hooks. Think L7 having a scrap with The Hives while the Pixies look on. The guitars are nicely crunchy and the vocals range anywhere from sultry croons to banshee wails. Sadly, due to the inadequacies of the UK public transport system I have to leave only partway through their set but I’ve seen enough to assure any doubters that The Soapgirls know well how to play their lean and mean version of alternative rock n roll. The fact that they choose to look exactly as they want to why doing this means that they are fun for the eyes as well as the ears. The Soapgirls play ‘We Don’t Give a Fuck n Roll’ music, make no mistake.