Big Joanie, Nikki & The Waves: EBGBS, Liverpool
London based punks Big Joanie make their Liverpool debut at EBGBS, and Gary Dougherty was there to catch them.
Describing musicians by comparison to others can be lazy, but it is convenient. With Big Joanie it helps as they are so hard to describe. Their bio describes them as The Ronettes filtered through 80s DIY and 90s riot grrrl, with a sprinkling of dashikis. It is fairly accurate, but add to this a bit of Siouxsie Sioux vocals, Slaves style drumming and a soupcon of Jesus and Mary Chain.
Kicking off their set with Cactus Tree, they immediately drew us in with an almost hypnotic sound that had an eerie bagpipe quality to it. A classic stripped-back punk sound with banging drums and throbbing guitars. Later we are treated to Used To Be Friends which we are told is all about hating people, and given the current political situation the Tories are singled out for a special type of hatred. With a Liverpool crowd this goes down well.
Interspersed with the music Estella, Chardine and Steph regale us with their back stories and we learn what they are really about: creativity, solidarity, feminism, inclusiveness and equality. We hear of the solidarity that can be displayed between black, lesbian Londoner Chardine meeting up with straight, white Scouser Dave from Unite who is providing flyers for the Labour Party (it seems that no matter our differences we can always find things in common). And it’s not all serious, there’s also eating at Egg and getting the ferry from Ireland!
Now as a punk band you might expect the typical grungy black ensembles but these “Sistahs” are having none of it. Steph rocks up in a bright floral dress, Estella is as cool as fuck in her beret looking like a female Nile Rodgers and Chardine stands behind her drums in a bright yellow hat.
To finish their set they perform It’s You and Fall Asleep from their album Sistahs. A darker sound and definitely punk.
Big Joanie are the epitome of modern punk: charming and charismatic (punk as fuck); bright and stylish (punk as fuck), inclusive and creative (punk as fuck).
Support was provided by upcoming local band Nikki and the Waves. Dropping in at the last minute they fit with the solidarity theme and impress with a short set of their self-styled melding of dream pop, indie funk. Nikki’s vocals shone in the slower, less rocky tracks but could be drowned out at times by ramping up the guitars.
Both bands deserved a bigger audience and hopefully we shall see Big Joanie back in Liverpool soon.
Images by Brian Sayle
Not to be used without written permission of the photographer.