Last week Concert Correspondent Morgan caught rising punk star Joanna Gruesome at DC9 -- check out her recap below!
During Sunday night’s Joanna Gruesome show I found myself reflecting on something Glenn Friedman said. DC Public Library’s punk archive (which, y’all – DC Public Library has a punk archive with free stuff to go to) had him speak and during the audience Q&A someone asked him if punk was the same as it was “back in the day.” His (and I am admittedly paraphrasing, it was two weeks ago, and I was too in awe of all the cool musicians he’d met to write down all of his wisdom) response: “I mean, people are still angry.”
For anyone searching for a productive expression of that anger: I recommend Joanna Gruesome to you. Hailing from Cardiff (my favorite fact about them, according to many articles, I found, including this NPR music review of their most recent album, the original band members all met in an anger management class), Wales, the band’s music touches on a variety of social themes including (but by no means, limited to) questions about sexism and gender roles. While many tracks touch on relationships and love, the boldly feminist under current of their second album, Peanut Butter is one of the reasons that I fell in love with the band.
Their set list on Sunday at DC9 touched on all of these issues, as well as the band’s relationship with the CIA and even included bonus gardening tips. (Apparently coffee grounds help with gardening. Joanna Gruesome -- helping music lovers and gardeners alike.)
Joanna Gruesome is pure joy to listen to live. The band as a whole has tremendous energy – I still have the guitar melody for “Honestly to Do Your Worst” stuck in my head. As a fan of noise-punk, I was most pleasantly surprised by the contrast of vocals from Kate and Roxy who joined the band as a part of their tour in 2015. While Kate was a perfect level of rage-filled energy, Roxy added a soft, almost folk-inspired touch to the set. My favorite part of the set was the back-and-forth dynamic of the vocals – hard and soft, reflective and angry, regretful and vengeful. It added depth to an already entertaining show.
In fact, in many ways, the intricacies of the lyrics and vocals made the show accessible to music lovers who may find “noise-punk-pop” a tad intimidating. If you are on the fence – I encourage you to check it out (and doubt very much you’ll be disappointed). In fact, I suspect you’ll leave with your anger vindicated and feeling at least a little bit more joyful.
Thanks so much to Morgan for checking this out and introducing us to a great band a bit outside of our comfort zone.
Next Up: Caleb's checking out Those Darlins and Shakey Graves at 9:30 Club on Sunday!