London has her fair share of quirky music venues, but you couldn’t get much quirkier than Paper Dress Vintage: clothes shop by day, music venue extraordinaire by night.
To celebrate Independent Venue Week, Paper Dress Vintage teamed up with Egyptian Elbows to bring a musical extravaganza that will not be forgotten any time soon. Last night’s headline act was Madonnatron, but we were so happy that we got there early to enjoy the three (yes, three!) support acts. One in particular brought the house down. More about them later.
The evening began with a charming little band from London called Honeyglaze (photo, below), comprised of Anouska Sokolow (vocals, guitar), Tim (bass) and Yuri (drums). At times reminiscent of Welsh indie darling Cate Le Bon, Anouska fronted what proved to be a solid and most enjoyable set.
The one thing you can say about Anouska is her diction when singing is impeccable. You can hear every single word, and her songs really tell a story. This is a band with something to say.
Tim also has a fine voice on him, and the penultimate song of the evening was, in our opinion, the stand-out tune. Called “Gyllyngvase”, this song was one of Tim’s own compositions, and was named after the popular beach in Falmouth. It had us tapping our toes and smiling.
The final song, “Childish Things”, this time with Anouska back on vocals, was also most enjoyable and had us wanting more. However, with three more bands to come on, time was of the essence. Honeyglaze are a new band (formed just a few months ago), and we are sure we will be hearing more about them in months to come.
We hinted at the beginning of this review that one of the support bands was really, really special. We will keep you in suspense no longer. Opus Kink (above) were, quite simply, amazing. A six-piece tour-de-force from Brighton, fronted by Angus Rogers, a tall cheeky-looking young Derren Brown lookalike, plus a trumpeter, sax player and the usual keyboards, guitars and drums.
Opus Kink were such fun to watch on stage. Angus was up and down like the proverbial yo-yo, in an absolute frenzy of energy, which rubbed off on the crowd, who by then had completely filled the small but perfectly formed dance area in front of the stage. It was amazing that he did not once knock over any of the other band-members or their equipment as he swung around with abandon.
What was also really fun about Opus Kink was the diversity in the styles they played. Occasionally Angus appeared to be channelling the late, great Jake Black from Alabama 3, almost preaching his lyrics to us like the Very Reverend D.Wayne Love himself, at times putting on a slight American twang.
But yet this was a very British-sounding band, occasionally even reminding us of The Specials in their heyday. Sometimes they even sounded a little bit like Talking Heads. But then Angus, ever the joker, introduced his next sound in what sounded like very convincing Swedish (but which, we are told, was just gobbledy-gook). This was for us our favourite song of the whole evening, a very interesting number called “Better Be Good”. It had a bit of everything, occasionally quite tribal, some of the preaching-style singing we touched upon earlier, but then it got quite funky, the brass instruments were manumitted, and the whole rhythm completely changed. And changed constantly throughout the song, it has to be said. Fantastic.
The band eventually played “Mosquito”, a song they have recently released on a double-A side and which was produced by none other than Liam Watson and Tim Bulleyment. We did our best at trying to get near the front to record this on video. While not as crazily diverse as “Better Be Good”, it demonstrates well the fun that was had on stage and, towards the end, Angus even gave out some Frank Black-style screaming. Here is our video footage:
Following a couple of less memorable tracks, the band finished on an absolute high. “Doin’ it Myself” was probably the most rock’n’roll and most dancey song of their set, and showed off just how tight they are as musicians. The audience erupted in applause afterwards.
Once Opus Kink had finished, a good third of the audience seemed to either leave or migrate to the smoking garden downstairs, which led us to believe the band had brought a lot of the Brighton cognoscenti with them. Next up was a very British band called The Caress (below), a five-piece outfit from London with a few singles to their name already.
This was pop in its purest sense. With three guitars and one bass, one would be forgiven for expecting a very guitar-heavy sound, but actually it was a very smooth, melodic and at times quite atmospheric set, the highlight being their beautiful song “Why Don’t We Take A Walk By The Sea”.
We were already aware of this particular song, having seen the excellent video on YouTube a while ago. The slow twangy guitar reminded us of the UK Surf version of Pixies’ “Wave of Mutilation” – our second Pixies reference of the night! We will share with you The Caress’s official video of the song here:
Another song that we enjoyed was called “Bruiser”, on which both of the main singers performed with gusto. This is another one they released on single and, although very short (about two and a half minutes) the bass was very Simon Gallup-esque in places.
Following a short break, the headline act were finally raring to go. Madonnatron have been around longer than the previous bands, having been rocking London since 2014 (indeed, they once graced the old Shoreditch Paper Dress stage many moons ago).
These three girls (and one guy) really can rock! While no one can say they are great musicians (and they would no doubt be the first to admit this), they can rock a venue like any other more accomplished band. They kicked straight off with “Be My Bitch”, and it is palpably obvious why Liam Day at Trashmouth took them so earnestly under his wing. This is chaotic stuff that sounds great on stage; punk rock at its bitchiest. Respect!
Kudos also has to go out to the heavily-bearded chap in charge of the lighting last night. None of these Madonnatron photos here in this review have been edited or Photoshopped. No filters have been added; this is just straight-up what we saw. The lighting was, as you will appreciate, just perfect.
We would not normally include so many photos from the one act in our review, but we couldn’t help it this time. Guitar/Keyboard-player Joanie looked like a supermodel last night, as we are sure you will agree.
Following a rendition of “Sucker Punch”, the lead single from their Musica Alla Putanesca album, which has the unforgettable lyrics ‘Flash your head with a Mary Antoinette / You eat a lot of cake for a little boy’, the band rocked out with “Flesh Pond”, a track with a guitar intro not disimilar to a certain James Bond theme (you know the one), albeit much dirtier.
Their stand-out track for us came next: “Liminal”. This was actually the most psychedelic song that they played, and probably their most accomplished, musically-speaking. This time the bass player took to the microphones (we believe everyone except the drummer took over the vocals at some point during the set), while the rest of the band concentrated on making a very enjoyable swirling sound which ticked all the right boxes.
A tribute to the lovable character of Super Hans played by Matt King in the Peep Show sitcom, “Super Hands” was quite a sexy, sultry song. With lyrics like ‘would you put your hands all over me’, this was a departure from the Riot grrrl abandonment that had gone before. The lights tickled crazily all over the band, like the very hands they were singing about.
After a couple more tunes, the girls finished with “Headless Children”, which was the opening track from their 2017 eponymous album, Madonnatron. We managed to capture the moment on video, which we would like to share with you here:
And then it was all over. Breathless from what we’d seen and heard, bedazzled by the awesome lighting and fantastic sound for which Paper Dress Vintage is getting a well-deserved reputation, and for which founder Steve Dix can feel justly proud, we made our way home, realising the mammoth task ahead of us: to somehow describe four completely different bands in a review that needs to be live by the following morning.
We hope we have achieved our ambitions and that you enjoyed re-living the night with us.