The Menstrual Cramps, KILLDREN – Amersham Arms 3-10-19

Tonight certainly represents a challenge for KILLDREN who are a long way from their comfort zone which often involves entertaining mashed up munters in sweaty, squatted buildings at excessive decibels. By comparison this New Cross dive is very much a corporate venue and to make matters worse this is a gig sponsored by VICE to launch ‘Old Blue Last’. A hipster beer that tastes like dishwater mixed with the contents of Shane McGowan’s colostomy bag.


However undaunted by the involuntary sobriety of the occasion and the half empty space before them, the rave punk pair immediately own the stage with ‘Designed to fail’. A song for everyone ripped off buying utter junk, while simultaneously contributing to the plastic epidemic.

Things properly get moving for ‘Blood runs blue’ their anthem to the unbridled joys of regicide and gradually the place is filling up with a curious mob whom are soon soaking up the manifesto pushed by devilish doublet. ‘Save the world, kill your children’ is certainly well received with its hilarious lyrics and immediate solution to averting ecological disaster. Meanwhile their infamous ‘Kill Tory Scum’ ditty now gets introduced with a lovingly curated collection of samples featuring the best moments of outrage served up by the corporate media last summer when they temporarily occupied the worst nightmares of the most easily offended conservatives.

By the time that the opening techno break-beats of final tune ‘Hypocrites’ arrive the place is jumping and this lot have proved that they really can strut their stuff in just about any musical arena and truck with the assembled throng. Efa has an engaging stage presence accompanied by a gigantic voice while Nick is a confident sidekick on the microphone when he isn’t live-tweaking the accompanying soundtrack from his computer. Tonight we don’t get the extra performers, whom sometimes accompany this show, and I wont include too many spoilers. But to see this spectacle in full effect there is nothing like the sight of a live abortion being carried out by a demonic dick-nosed nurse or seeing a corporate boss being kicked in by his dominatrix former employee. All of which are best viewed in an occupied space breaking just about every licensing & health and safety law that you can think of.

I’ve heard a lot about tonight’s headliners and they do not disappoint as a live act. The band are largely driven by Cooper’s abrasive guitar riffs and I am immediately reminded of one of my favourite rock musicians of all time. Poison Ivy Rorschach dominated the world of garage punk guitar for over thirty years with The Cramps (no relation). Her simple formula for danceable chord structures influenced a generation and laid the foundation for explosive live shows fronted by her musical partner Lux Interior. However his complete absence of politics and schoolboy sexism could not be further away from the equally incendiary presence of Emilia of The Menstrual Cramps who has a range of ferocious opinions to express through the medium of feminist punk.

Menstrual Cramps

Opening song ‘Hashtag sad penis’ sets the tone for what follows with its withering critique of the pathetic online phenomenon that is the unsolicited dick pick. ‘The Smash’ is a storming call to arms that demands the violent overthrow of our loathsome government. It seems slightly dated with its mentions of Theresa May but lets face it a song written about Boris Johnson today could be obsolete by next week given the present state of the Tories and their continued meltdown. Then we get ‘Mutual Masturbation’ a track that manages to be instantly memorable and beautiful in its simplicity. It is reminiscent of the Stooges when they were at their creative peak, but without the sinewy gimp making an idiot of himself at the front.

The narrative is expertly underpinned throughout by the tightest of rhythm sections in the form of Robyn (bass) and A.J. (drums). This band properly understands the importance of space in the mix with players regularly dropping out to allow each component to be properly appreciated. They play with a maturity and discipline that many bands take years to achieve and they are refreshingly free from the self-indulgence that so many young musicians allow to ruin their shows.

‘Frack off’ gives a blunt response to the most idiotic forms of energy production and is quickly followed by ‘Cull the Tories’ which explores the possibilities of removing this government in a less complicated way than one of those tiresome general elections. ‘Neo Nazi’ delivers the antifascist message in a joyous stream of highly entertaining rhyming couplets.

Final tune ‘Idols’ is a battle cry of rage against abuse and exploitation in the world of entertainment. Emilia delivers an award-winning introduction in which she explores in graphic detail exactly how she’d like to teach Iggy Pop a lesson for his past crimes. Leaving us with one of those scenes in our heads that just can’t be unimagined. It is a glorious end to a set that was overflowing with attitude from the first note to the final twang. Relentless yet measured, chaotic yet precise and a string of infectious numbers that leave you wanting to hear more.

By Guy Smallman




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