The Northampton, Massachusetts, genre-spanning four-piece Speedy Ortiz have been steadily gaining a cult following in the UK, with their most recent LP ‘Twerp Verse’ receiving admirable praise. Alongside a recent publication of frontwoman Sadie Dupuis’s book ‘Mouthguard’, which she claims is her book of ‘sad girl poems’, their sophomore release deals with socio-political problems of marginalized people, rather than on downfalls of relationships. This is further emphasized by posters placed in the venue’s bathroom stalls, inviting fans to call out audience members who make them feel uncomfortable.
London’s Doe (4/5) take their level of abrasive ear candy to a whole new level in a live environment, glazed in angsty red lighting as they surge through cuts such as ‘Heated‘ and ‘Labour Like I Do’. Although guitarist Nicola Leel’s and drummer Jake Popyura’s call and response vocals become drowned in the mix during louder sections, it can be forgiven due to their unashamedly ferocious instrumentation. They are clearly able to channel their frustrations all whilst humbled by the audience’s attentive reception. There’s a satisfying buzz about their tight performance tonight that certainly leaves behind a lasting impression.
The room may be less than half empty by the time Speedy Ortiz (4/5) arrive compared to other dates on this tour, but they don’t let it dampen their spirits. Given the recent confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh in the US a few weeks ago, along with the woes of Donald Trump’s presidency, newer tracks like ‘Alone With Girls’ and ‘Villian’ are especially on the nose in the aftermath of #metoo.
Dynamically the band’s onstage chemistry is strong, executing blissful vocal harmonies on ‘Lucky 88’ and the unsettling blaring guitar lead on ‘Plough’. The glistening on-stage lights are just as eeiry, adding to Speedy Ortiz‘s melancholic aura and stage presence.
Sadie Dupuis and drummer and Mike Falcone’s stage banter appreciating how nice but expensive Brighton does not really conjure up much of an audience reaction in between songs, as they’re very much preaching to the choir.
However, this changes when Dupuis makes us aware of the book ‘Making Spaces Safer’ which she tells us she has given two copies to each venue on this tour, encouraging promoters and bands to combat rampant harassment that even in 2018 is still a major problem.
As the night draws to a close, the band refuses to call the last few songs of their setlist an “encore”, as Dupuis and guitarist Andy Molholt hoist their guitars over the barrier during ‘Tiger Tank’. As the final fuzzy chords ring out, it’s clear that despite the mediocre turnout, Speedy Ortiz musical finesse is well balanced by bringing awareness to glaring social issues.
Words by Ashwin Bhandari (@GIVEUPOX17)