Kate Nash With Kera and the Lesbians And Meatbodies At The Hi Hat, Wednesday December 21st 2016
On Wednesday night, the Hi Hat was hosting a Holiday Fiesta fundraiser, which gave me another occasion to spend the night listening to music while contributing to an excellent cause. It was a community organized event, all the funds raised during the night were directly going to the NELA winter shelter for the homeless based in Highland Park, and a raffle was also offering merchandizes from famous musicians like Mac DeMarco, or drum lessons with Marian of La Luz and Patty Schemel, and even a guitar from Bonnie (Death Valley Girls) and Staz (The Paranoyds). There were many other items you could win but I was there to see the bands, especially UK songstress Kate Nash.
Kera and the Lesbians opened the show, and if I have seen them a few times before, I am never tired of their ‘bipolar folk’… this is how Kera describes her music, she is a ball of fire, Jerry Lee Lewis with a guitar, she jumps and crouches, she seduces and winces, she always gives a sort of crazy performance in the most upbeat and joyful sense of the term, and she is simply the most elusive performer you have ever seen. She starts a song with the most delightful Spanish-Hawaii folk lullaby, but before you know it, the exotic vibe of the song freaks out into a succession of caffeinated outbursts, so that you don’t know if she has an episode of madness or euphoria. The erratic music never lands exactly where you would have expected, but the intrepid-impish Kera makes it works, and the result is as multifaceted as the faces she makes during a set. This malicious chaos could represent what youth and joy are and Kera and the Lesbians are simply an act difficult to follow but Kate Nash had the hooks and the platform shoes to do so.
Kate was very cute, even when she screamed in her Christmas-garland-decorated mic. Last night, she was surrounded by an all-female band wearing matching ‘psycho bitch’ tanks, and she played her most convincing rebel punk rock feminist, with a bold delivery and an activist mindset, as she said she was delighted to be involved in such a good cause. I actually was surprised to see her play in such a small club, but this is not the first time it’s happening, as she has played Coachella and the DIY LA venue the Smell a few months apart. I mostly knew her because of her FIDLAR cover and because she sang with them on a song, so, with this in mind, she had to be cool. One thing was certain, she looked totally at ease whether she was rocking her heart out with low bass lines while opening with the song ‘Sister’, or encouraging a sing-along during the cute tune she wrote about her dog, ‘My Little Alien’, or even crashing in the middle of the crowd at the end of her set. She was loud and the rawness of some of the songs was contrasting with the glitter makeup and the cuteness of the scene I thought she belonged to. She sounded very friendly too, as a matter fo fact, people asked for more vocals since the music was so loud that Kate’s voice was a bit muddled in the mix during the first songs… and she said they should start over.
Most of her set was raucous and loud with a visceral delivery, and as she was getting into that riot grrrl spirit, she got very convincing and not once I thought she was trying too hard. Her most quiet and piano-driven songs like ‘Foundations’ had been reworked with roaring bass lines and an aggressive distorted sound. She demonstrated a wild enthusiasm all set long and covered Meredith Brooks’ ‘Bitch’, echoing her top and sweat-pants, before of stripped down and playful version of her own ‘Free My Pussy’… Without having truly listened to her, I was under the impression that Kate Nash was gentle pop, but she definitively was the badass riot feminist to the core, rock trashing the end of her set with a ferocious ‘Under-Estimate the Girl’, rolling her back on the floor as if it was 94′ Seattle.
Then, Meatbodies closed the night with a deafening set, filled with head-banging massive riffs and a dark psychedelia. I had seen them not too long ago, and they are definitively impressive live, they bring an aggressive and complex sound, which goes from sludgy to fast, with roomy instrumentals, many pedal effects and a few wah solos. It’s a rewarding sound if you like the style – they are from the Ty Segall-school but they bring something of their own – the music is a victorious mélange of fuzz and distortion with meaty chunks of a very palpable sound, sometimes morphing into a science-fiction space battle ,… although they are true eardrum fuckers, vocals and hooks do exist, often lost in reverb, in between the gargantuan layers and colossal piles of guitar destructive power.
Once again, it was a good night of music during a usually slow pre-Christmas week.