Zoëtrøpe @ Buffola Bar, London
The 1990s is a decade that has certainly been having a “moment” of late: A resurgence in the career of Irvine Welsh, would-be enfant terribles standing around admiring the Damien Hirst retrospective, girls in the street with ironic/non-ironic scrunchies in their hair and boys wearing shirts that share the gaudy graphic prints of American teenage sitcoms. Standing in Buffalo Bar tonight it would appear The Girls Are have been transported back to the 90s, in the sartorial sense at least; The boys in the room look like they could’ve been the sexually ambiguous extras in a Suede video and The Girls Are dig that wholeheartedly.
You could definitely be tricked into thinking that tonight’s headlining band, Zoëtrøpe, have come straight out of that era. The three women take to the stage in an unassuming manner but proceed to – as incidentally quintessentially 90s supermodel Tyra Banks would say- own it.
Armed with a no-frills guitar/bass/drums set up, a bunch of spiky post-punk songs and a devil-may-care attitude in spades, Amy Smith Zoe Grisedale and Hannah Logic bash through songs like ‘Debbie’, ‘Susan’ and ‘Demons’ in a way that shows a charming scant regard for traditional concepts like timing. It’s all a little wonky and at times un-coordinated but spirit and passion always win out over boring technical ability or complexity. ‘Don’t Look At Me’ proves to be a highlight of their set, the 3 women spitting repeatedly “Don’t fucking look at me” into their mics with a playfulness lightly tinged by real vitriol.
The three members have a great chemistry, laughing between themselves and giving each other knowing glances throughout and Grisedale is a spirited whirlwind on drums, ferociously animated and magnetic while Smith and Logic possess an affable nonchalance. Their music is sparky and frantic, switching pace at a whim and wearing its influences patently. Their songs embody the unfriendly, confrontational punk that informed so many of the bands they echo- The raincoats, The slits and The Au Pairs can all be heard in Zoëtrøpe- and in the same way, the audible sparseness in the brittle guitars has its gaps filled in by attitude and a self-assured focus, paired with Smith’s Siouxsie-esque wonderfully discomforting vocals.
Grrrl rock to their core, they channel punky grunge in a way that’s doggedly faithful to its roots, screaming and clattering their way through songs with a joyous zeal. It’d be presumptuous to say there’s been a re-awakening in Riot Grrrl but the likes of Zoëtrøpe and Throwing Up are part of what we can only hope is a burgeoning revival in female bands who take no prisoners and kick the perpetually stale indie boy rent-a-pose scene to the kerb with their oxblood DMs.