Sunday, 4 September 2011

Ladygarden @ The Portland Arms, Cambridge 28/08/11

Experimental noise makers Canaveral
Punk Rockers Beverly Kills
retro punk band Chapter 24

rock n rollers We Rock Like Girls Don't
I hadn't heard of the Ladygarden fundraiser before now, and this was their fourth year- this year I was lucky enough to be offered a lift down (as Cambridge is not too close to where I am)! by M of the fantastic band Ten Tigers.

As it wasn't advertised to start until 5.30pm, M came to pick up at about 3pm and we made our way down, getting ourselves in the mood for some female fronted music with a bit of Sneaker Pimps. We managed to find our way to Cambridge, and then got a bit confused where we had to go, but thanks to my recently bought smartphone and it's sat nav type function we managed to find ourselves there. We were still early anyway, so we quickly popped across the road to grab some chips.

When we finished and decided to venture into the venue, we got rather confused, as it was at a pub, that had many doors that seemed to lead to the same place- a room full of men watching football! Was this really the right place? Eventually we found ourselves in the beer garden, and thanks to someone who thought we were in one of the bands (well M could have been if her band was playing to be fair)! we finally realised there was another room, just outside and upstairs, almost like a secret bunker. Only, they were still sound checking at this point, so we decided to get a drink and spot the people that were in the bands- which wasn't hard! Anyone female and dressed vaguely alternative. It was quite an unusual mix of people in this pub- there was the stereotypical pub regulars, alternative crowd, old and young people, and even a couple of leather clad bikers drinking tea!

It took some time, but eventually at about 7pm, the room was finally ready for us. When we went inside, the room was incredibly tiny, and had very fancy looking patterned foam on the wall, which was in fact sound proofing. There wasn't too many of us in the room just yet for the first band, and there was two guys filming, that meant everyone was sort of standing towards the back of the room.

The first band Canaveral (sorry I can't find a link for the right band) weren't actually a female fronted band, although at least 3 of the members were. I wasn't quite sure what to make of this band to be honest, their entire set consisted of one over twenty minute long song- well I say song, it was more like a dark psychedelic experimental noise that consisted of some big drum beats and a guy making random noises into a loop machine, giving it a somewhat eerie effect. To be fair, I'm no expert on experimental music, and it wasn't unbearable, I was just a little dazed by it, which I'm sure is something they are used to!

There was a short break in between acts which gave us time to have a quick glance at the fundraising stall they had set up. It was a bit disappointing as both of us had brought things to donate, but the stall was actually very small and as it was the stuff on it was falling off! It had been advertised as having a BBQ, a record sale/cake stall, and although there was a few cds on the table and definitely some cakes, there was no bbq at all. Saying that, M mentioned there was a message about it on Facebook, which I no longer use so I didn't see it. It was probably a good thing as it was a really weird weather day, when it kept going sunny and raining intermittently.

The second band were a much more interesting prospect. They were called 'Chapter 24' and to begin with, I thought the lead singer kind of looked bored, but as the set went on, she looked more like she was into the spirit of it. Their music is described as 'tropical punk' which seems to fit the bill quite nicely. I would say they have a very retro feel to their music, which had some similarities to The Slits.

The third band on the line up were 'Beverly Kills' who I had heard of before, and I was hugely impressed with their set. They are an all female band with their own unique form of punk rock you can dance to. They actually had extra time on their set as one of the bands had to pull out as they were stuck in traffic and couldn't make it in time (to be honest I was relieved as they were hardcore band and I'm really not into hardcore) and at the end they decided to play a song they played at a friend's wedding, saying that we were all either going to love it or hate it. They then launched into a cover of several Abba songs including 'Gimme Gimme Gimme' and 'Mama Mia' but not at all in a cheesy 80's way, instead making an excellent fast, punky megamix!

The final band were 'We Rock Like Girls Don't' who I have also heard of, and also received music from several years ago. They only consist of two members (both female), a singer/guitarist and a drummer, but the amount of sound the two of them can make is simply immense. Their sound is pure infectious rock n roll, that seemed to spread through the crowd like wildfire, giving this fundraiser an amazing rock star finish.

Overall, this little fundraiser in Cambridge which was raising money for the Cambridge Women's Resource Centre was very good indeed, with a good choice of bands. My main complaint would be the use of the two cameramen in such a tiny room, especially as they tended to get in the way, several times one of them would be right in front of us, blocking the view or stopping us getting any closer to the stage (especially as we kept being told to move forward, it was sometimes near on impossible) but other than that, it was well worth the little road trip! (oh and the deafness the following day :) )

You can check out a few short video clips I took on my youtube page

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