Bloody Ice Cream Present Tunabunny + Ethical Debating Society +My Therapist Says Hot Damn + Karren Ablaze! @ The Grosvenor, London
It’s the first night of Tunabunny’s UK tour. Tonight’s venue is the back room of a Brixton pub, and it’s the hottest gig these bands have played. But the mission is so strong in the hearts of all participants that there’s no malingering outside on the smoking veranda. Everyone is in for the grrrl power feast.
My Therapist Says Hot Damn is a huge ten-footed instrument-swapping genderqueer riot combo, and tonight they play a set that explodes like a kitten fight. Their songs are raw, passionate and sometimes stompy, and in between them bassist Chloe gets up to all manner of mischief, variously kissing and hitting fellow band members, guitarist Ray stands right up on the drumkit to sing ‘The The Empty’ by Le Tigre, and It all ends with a Who-esque bass smash up. They sound like they’re just about getting the hang of their instruments, and they really don’t care. Thus they are a living embodiment of DIY – DIY as in Get The Fuck Up There And Do It. MTSHD set the tone of awesomeness and abandon – that’s why we also say hot damn!
Ethical Debating Society’s bassist and singer Tegan begins the set with a chant. “Are you ethical? Yes/No. Are you ethical? Yes/No. Are you ethical? Yes/No. Are you fuck!” And thusly they launch into a set of sharply-written punk rock that insists that you dance to it. It’s drummer Ellie’s first show and she totally on it. Guitarist Kris brings surfy riffs that reminded us ever so pleasingly of Bratmobile, and some fine Buzzcocks-esque backing vocals to complement Tegan’s pristine screams. She declares “if you think we are shit, if you think we can’t play, if you think you can do better than us, just go and do it! Form a band, it’s easy!” The crowd screams cos they know it’s true. Dreams are meant to come true. What are you waiting for?
Tunabunny is a quartet from Athens, GA. There’s Brigette on guitar, or drums, and singing, green eyes zooming into the room like hazy lasers. Mary Jane on guitar and singing, perfection soaring from vocal chords. Jesse playing the crazy ass drums, or staggering bass, and falling on the floor. Scott on bass, bouncing, or falling over, showing how you can play it with your Vans. Sometimes they play heart-achingly sweet tunes that make us think of early REM; occasionally they emit elements of The B-52’s infectious pop. But Tunabunny is not merely a product of its illustrious hometown; we also hear the urgency of Joy Division blended with the contemplative harmonies of Scrawl. And when Brigette and Mary Jane both sing together [simultaneously, at the same time] everything takes flight. This is a band that makes us stretch each of our arms out to the sides as though we might now, finally, lose gravity.
Tunabunnies roll around, wriggle, and play their instruments with whatever comes to hand; they embody a childlike quality where playing really is playing. Pop despite themselves – despite their stubborn experimentalism – they’re alternately self-sabotaging and brilliant. Their essence is unpredictability; a lot depends on how the coin falls. Right at the end of the set they go jazzout, but that’s only after the crowd refused to let them get off the stage by forming a human chain.
It was one of those nights. There are going to be more. Tunabunny may be in your town right now – and will be back in London at the Buffalo Bar on July 31.