Queen Zee, Piss Kitti, Zand, Munkey Junkey: 24 Kitchen St, Liverpool
Planet Slop wouldn’t miss Queen Zee launching their debut album, would we? Shaun Ponsonby heads to 24 Kitchen St to see 2018’s gig calendar out in sickening style.
This is a big night – one that will go down in the annals of Liverpool music history.
Queen Zee turned 24 Kitchen St into their very own Sassden to premiere their debut album. It’s not out until February, but they treated their hometown crowd to a sickening preview, and the sold out crowd salvaged every moment.
It really was their world – it was punk, it was queer, and despite that old time rock & roll has become passé, it still felt thoroughly contemporary.
There are a number of reasons for this. Although the appeal of Queen Zee goes far beyond their queerness, that aspects of queer culture have recently become such mainstream money spinners certainly helps. Drag queen and Sonic Yootha regular Jackie Jervo hosted the event dressed as a Christmas present and proved to be one of the great cheerleaders, endlessly and contagiously enthusiastic.
But equally the band’s own musical interests show their foresight.
Most punk bands holding an event such as this would fill the bill with other punk bands. Queen Zee don’t do this, and it works in their favour.
Opening the show was Munkey Junkey and any old rockists showing up would have been immediately shocked being faced by an electronic artist with flourishes of trap. Equally, the dark alternative pop of Zand may have been a shocker. On paper, this may not have made much sense, but each share something with the headliners, and the audience were open and accepting of each of them. Clearly, there is something deeper going on here that goes beyond watching a bunch of bands for the night.
Piss Kitti came across as Queen Zee’s bastard offspring. As if the sass seed had been planted and grew into a grotesque but compelling entity of its own. Somehow, they manage to be even more snotty than Zee. It was a pleasant surprise to see Qfolk on bass, adding another string to their already pretty impressive bow (still waiting for Non-Binary Fantasy Trash Queen to be a hit), and Esme’s screams on vocals were piercing.
We were treated to some camp classics between bands. There’s nothing more punk that making punks listen to disco – and we gotta shout out to whoever curated the playlist for including Dan Hartman‘s original (and superior) version of Relight My Fire.
We have been following Queen Zee since the beginning, long before they morphed into the monster they have become. It’s rare that you can look at someone and immediately pinpoint a star, but Zee is one of those people. Diana Ross could be pushing shopping trolleys in Tesco and she would still be a star. It’s a quality you can’t teach, and if we’re honest with ourselves, these are the qualities that truly cause us to gravitate towards any one artist. We love the music, but we fangirl over people for other reasons.
When I think of the people I have spent my life obsessing over, it’s David Bowie the chameleon, the flamboyant Freddie Mercury, the tragic Michael Jackson, the otherworldly Prince, the underdog Kirsty MacColl, the misunderstood Alice Cooper.
What we have in Zee is something that, in the city of Liverpool at least, is unprecedented and the band probably couldn’t have existed in any other time. Scary, sexy and queer as fuck.
We’ve had queer artists before – Pete Burns, Frankie Goes To Hollywood – but they had more of a nudge and a wink about them most of the time. Queen Zee are flying the pink flag in a whole new way, building on those who came before and shaking things up, slapping us in the face and refusing to compromise.
They take the stage tonight with an intergalactic intro that seems to come out of the P. Funk play book – to George Clinton, “funk” is not a genre but a feeling and a way of life, and the intro Queen Zee used (hopefully the intro to the upcoming album) seems to define “sass” in the same way.
The band are so well seasoned now that they can apparently create magic out of thin air, and they do it all night. They invite us into a world where we can all be who we want. There’s no limits, and that’s a timely message. Be a freak unique or act like its hip to be square – all extremes welcome provided you do it for love; L.U.V.
In truth, the set was such a blur that it’s hard to remember exactly what was played. They did play Idle Crown live for the first time, despite being released a year ago. Boy was a highlight as usual, and it was a personal thrill to see Anxiety back in the set, with Zee holding our attention through the short, sparse album closer (if you can’t do it with one microphone and one spotlight then you can’t do it at all – Zee definitely can).
An encore of Beastie Boys’ Sabotage weirdly brought the night together in a way that made everything – the punk, the electronics, the pop, the trap, the disco, the aggression, the camp – into some kind of musical harmony where the planets were aligned.
As a queer person in Liverpool, I can’t tell you what Queen Zee mean to me. That they are absolutely thrashing pretty much all competition is something of which Planet Slop is immensely proud. Queer Liverpool is in a fascinating place right now, and Queen Zee will be one of the icons of this moment. This night was all the proof you need. #Sass4Life.
Pictures by Gary Dougherty