She Makes War and The Menstrual Cramps, Oxford Nov 1st 2018
The Jericho Tavern in Oxford can best be described as an intimate venue. It can’t be more than 100 people capacity (and it is filled to capacity) and the lighting is deceptive, but it all makes for a friendly atmosphere. There’s a real mix of people from all walks of life, She Makes War proving to be popular across a broad section of society. Which makes the choice of The Menstrual Cramps an unusual one for a support band, if not for the Bristol connection.
There’s much that can be said about them, with a reputation even within the punk scene, but that all goes out the window when they play. What we get is a young band with a very classic punk sound. It’s clear that they take their cues from the punk and anarchy fuelled scene of the 70s and early 80s, they’re unapologetic in their politics and they believe what they sing about. But it’s not all anger at misogyny and capitalism, there’s an underlying humour to it all that reminds you that you’re still meant to have fun. They’re clearly not the band that the audience have come to see but they do make some new fans, with at least one person willing to look a bit daft and having a mosh at the front. Great fun and hopefully the more mature attitude from the band will continue into the future.
She Makes War is up next. For a town used to seeing 4 bands a night it’s strange to only have 2 bands playing, but it’s a Thursday and there’s work in the morning, so a shorter than usual night of music is actually refreshing. There’s plenty of music off the new album, as well as assurances that she’ll still be singing songs about being sad and lonely despite her recent happy marriage. It’s not too long though before her solo roots come out to play and the band is packed off-stage to leave Laura alone in front of the audience with just her voice and a ukulele. It’s a mix of grunge, indie rock, and loop pedalled a cappella that gets the crowd singing along. Highlights are the newer songs Devastate Me and London Bites, taken from Brace For Impact. There’s a real sense of 90s grunge and gothic ennui through the tracks and live they sound great. Hopefully when she returns in another 7 years there’ll be more like them.