Death Pill at The Lexington, LondonSupport: Rabies Babies| Shooting Daggers | TsuShiMaMiRe
June 14, 2023 at The Lexington, London
Promoter: Loud Women
A hot and sultry night in London is often a time of beers while stood outside the pub, late evening walks through the park, barbecues, or finding a nice bar or restaurant with blessed air conditioning. Sometimes the underground music scene demands dedication from us, reader. As beads of sweat formed on my brow by the very fact of just being, it was a choice that would have vexed many, to dive into and then upstairs in the dimly lit Lexington in Islington.
However, no sacrifice was truly made. . . All those who were congregating knew that they were in for a treat. Albeit an extra sweaty one. The excellent Loud Women collective were putting on a gig that was already much anticipated and which had very recently had another act added. And congregate we did as upon entering the already sweltering establishment, bathed in bright sunlight despite the early evening hour, I found the doors still not open, and a strange snaking line, winding its way through the ground floor of the pub. Unfortunate early “technical issues” were at play, foxing both venue, promoter, and bands alike.
At last we were granted access to upstairs, but almost a half hour later than planned. At this point, the first band should have already been halfway through their set, but instead a quick line-check was still being seen to. Having received some projected set-times from our Live Editor extraordinaire here at Echoes & Dust, I felt sorry for the opening two bands – surely, they would have to cut their sets quite drastically!
No matter – these things happen. It’s a DIY punk gig. The Sun is out. Music will be played. Drinks are now flowing.
The trio of Rabies Babies opened up the gig with an impressive set. Theirs is a brand of no frills lofi punk that I can sometimes struggle with – extremely simplistic and at a pace that exposes that, rather than something speedier that makes a virtue of it. There is, however, no getting around the fact that they are fantastic showpeople. Effortless is their rapport with the crowd, and the meaning behind many tracks played is laid bare not only by the lyrics, but by them addressing the crowd directly.
It felt to me that the early technical issues may have still been hampering their overall sound and impact, with periods where both guitar and bass felt as if they had washed up in a hinterland between acoustic and electrified. Due to the aforementioned delay in opening up the proceedings, Rabies Babies did enjoy a healthy audience size, and those that caught them definitely seemed to vibe with their sound and aesthetic more than I. No doubt a few of their (most excellent) tea towels got purchased, along with some of their 10” LPs.
One could tell there was an attempt to make the transition between acts extremely slick, with Shooting Daggers taking to the stage in haste. The second of four trios, they were the only ones I had previously seen live. An impressive group that share the same label as the night’s headliners, the three were being filmed for an unnamed project, and were clearly ready to prove their worth to a growing crowd. The band ripped through their set with an earnestness that on occasion seemed to almost overwhelm the performance – and a sound that didn’t quite cut the same sharp incision that it did the last time I witnessed them perform supporting GEL.
Nonetheless, the trio are formidable, and like a number of bands burgeoning out of the London hardcore punk scene, seem on the cusp of finding a whole new legion of fans with their abrasive queercore thunder. Many were surely converted during the heated evening, with rapturous applause rightfully offered up by the steaming crowd, many of whom – braver and more hydrated than I – had got their dance on already.
The penultimate band on the bill were the recent addition – all the way from Tokyo, Japan and looking for a London gig, TsuShiMaMiRe. They took to the stage as quickly as their predecessors had before and who had also exited at speed, too. The trio set up and after a quick sound-check launched into their set. From about thirty to forty seconds in a huge smile spread across my face and didn’t leave me until a few minutes following them exiting stage left to howls and whoops from the audience and I alike.
What a polished live band. This is what you get from relentless writing and touring for twenty-four years! The trio smashed their way through a nine-song, half-hour set, and left the Lexington agog – slack jawed and in the palm of their collective hands. Mixing eclectic punk with elements of noise rock and pop into their joyous melange and taking us from serious and disturbing subjects to a newer song all about soy sauce, the band had the uncanny effect of lifting the soul while bludgeoning the body. An absolute delight and review or not, I’ll be making sure to see them if and when I can ever cross paths with them again.
Last, but by no means least, we get to tonight’s headliners: Death Pill. The Ukrainian band have made significant waves this year with their self-titled debut album, that yours truly reviewed for E&D a little while ago. The crowd are hyped to see them and the temperature in the venue begins to trouble this reviewer’s internal thermostat.
TsuShiMaMiRe rattled through their set – spot-on for their allotted time – but it does mean, given my understanding, that the trio of Mariana, Anastasiya and Nataliya need to get going pretty soon to have their allotted time, albeit their album’s runtime is less than what I believed they had as a final slot. But the switch between penultimate band and headliner is hampered, with a bass monitor not playing the game and similar issues for the other members. Time ticks along and seeing a handwritten setlist on a piece of A4 that seems to cover most if not all the album, I begin to worry for them.
The band finally launch into their set and they are magnetic. The bond between them, not only musically, artistically, and aesthetically, but by the shared trauma they have and are living through, is immediately evident. The band are tight – summoning the rawness of Circle Jerks, the bawdy brawl of The Distillers and the visceral bite of Gallhammer.
In between songs, the band members share the duty of talking about the meaning behind the songs. Sometimes there is levity (albeit still on a serious subject like a bad end to a relationship), but – understandably – they are also keen to discuss the elephant in the room. The illegal invasion (war crime) of Ukraine is spoken about openly, while a pinned Ukrainian flag hangs to the side of the stage. They are emotional, this being the end of their UK tour, and also the last time the trio will likely see one another for an entire year (one lives here, one in Barcelona, one now in Australia). To see these incredible women not only survive this horror but be doing what they love in spite of everything, is truly energising and humbling at the same time.
Unfortunately for the trio, prior delays catch up with them, and they have to cut their set short, when the sound engineer informs them (I’m sure reluctantly) that they need to wrap up with one last song, as the time has already crept beyond London’s mystifying hard-line 11pm. Death Pill momentarily look defeated – and I really hope they only had to cut one planned track, although I fear it may have been more – before they launch into a final volley. What is this, in context, given everything else that has occurred over the past twelve or more months?
The crowd, albeit disappointed by circumstance, rally and send Death Pill off with shrieks, cheers, and loud acclamation. There may be a pause to their proceedings, but one thing I feel sure of is that we – and London – haven’t seen the end of them yet. If you haven’t listened to their punk thrash riot grrrl debut yet, amend that egregious oversight immediately.