Live Review: Screech Bats, Bloodlines, The Menstrual Cramps // The Monarch, London 4.4.2018

The Monarch, a pub situated near Chalk Farm rather than the more bustling Camden Town, played host to Screech Bats’ EP show “Wish You Were Her” last night in front of an adoring crowd of well-wishers, who were also treated to tracks from their previous eponymous release “Screech Bats” which came out in 2016.
The band, (formed when two ex-members of Hearts Under Fire decided to start a new project) are an LGBT act who refuse to be defined by gender and cite topics like mental health as being an important conversation for public consumption through their ever-growing repertoire of punk opuses.
They took to the stage after four previous acts had performed to a lot of headbanging from people like Robert. Robert is a photographer who only moved to the UK two weeks ago from America. He now wants to go to the Gunners after I told him about a graffitied ceiling covered in Arsenal memorabilia. The bowler hat clad Dave Stock who filmed everyone for free on a mini go-pro style device, and Koichi who everyone on the independent music scene knows to be a champion of female musicians. All characters that make the scene what it is. And these are characters you can often find out there at the forefront, driving artists forward.
I arrived sometime around seven to be welcomed by a running high-five in the street from Beth White, a musician/promoter who works for Women Who Run The World, who was making her debut as the drummer for the Menstrual Cramps. The Londoner seemed extremely calm, despite what was to come, most likely due to the fact she was required on stage as soon as we entered the room.
The Menstrual Cramps shouted and screamed their way through a profanity-strewn set, objecting to Theresa May, the dangers of idolisation, sending dirty pics of male genitalia and Rebellion revellers who didn’t like being called-out on social media.
My personal highlight from their set was when the singer, previously bent over from her hips with a mic hanging limply from a two-handed grip, suddenly raised herself back up and screamed with wide-eyed insanity a word or noise beyond human comprehension.
Was it rage? A protest? The band seemed angry and keen to let everyone know that they believed respect for the female gender is an issue that needs addressing in a male-dominated industry. Disagree? Think about who you grew up listening to. If you’re over thirty like me, it’s probably not going to be anyone that protests as much as this group did on behalf of their kin on a sweaty night in modern-day England.
Sure, Riot grrrl was around in the nineties, with bands like L7. But they were American and trailblazers for a scene that lost sway with its audience once Kurt Cobain’s death weakened Grunge and retaliatory Punk took over.
The second act, Bloodlines, an all-male band from Scotland had a drummer provide impressive backup vocals to the lead singer. The lead singer being all veins as he mouthed into a mic with words that I had trouble deciphering throughout the loud guitar-driven set.
Kid Kapachi, another rock act who were promoting their “Lucozade Dreams” EP which came out on the 30th of March. They followed before local unsigned noisemakers The Survival Code, (who flew in a drummer from Ireland to cover for an absent member of the band) completed Screech Bats’ undercard.
I was preparing for the main event while talking to Robert about how scary musicians can be when they leap off the stage and unexpectedly fly past your lens. When I was asked about my Instagram account, I confessed to being very behind at updating it. I was surprised to hear a third-party interjection from a friend who said: “You wanna sort out your Insta, mate!” The comment came from Kit Reeve who was tuning her guitar just inches away from us. “Hey!” I exclaimed, “You can’t heckle me from the stage!” All three of us laughed and continued going about our business as a swell of previously absent members of the press gave me a reason to acquiesce.
My path to the stars would not be an easy one to document, from start to exit stage left. With fresher members of the paparazzi bringing increased bulk with stocky shoulders to shoot over.
The crowd enjoyed their night and could often be heard shouting “We love Screech Bats!” as sticks thrashed behind a spinning Reeve and lyrics were delivered by a powerful set of lungs intent on holding our ears to constant attention. In the brief moments of silence between songs, there was banter and individual calls of encouragement that didn’t initially include Lexi. The singer, Esme, noticed and shouted: “Can the drummer get some!”
No one was ready to leave once the curtain call came.
The crowd, who’d already asked for another song, cried for more because they were so lost in the music that they’d forgotten their wish had already been granted.
“One more song!”
“You’ve already had one!
Words by Lisa Knight
Photo credit: Lisa Knight
 
 

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