The MET Office had just issued a severe weather warning, rain was on its way, lots of it too, luckily, we were off to Exeter to catch a Baltimore based feminist hardcore punk band called War on Women. It was warm when we reached Exeter, proper warm, the type of warm that your Nan might call ‘close’ or ‘muggy’, I was glad I had pulled a pair of shorts on instead of my usual strides, The Cavern can get a tad clammy in the Summer months, mix in a load of sweaty teenagers and it wouldn’t be long until the walls and the ceiling started sweating!
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the evening was to consist of 4 bands, which was brilliant value for money, 3 of them being local acts which is a great way for them to gain a bit of stage time and to play to a paying audience.
Up first we were treated to the sonic output of a band called Dead Ground, a 3 piece from Exeter consisting of Ollie Harris on Guitar/Vox, Ed Tucker on bass and Jake Friese-Greene on drums. Their music was tight, their performance full of charisma and energy, Ollie did remind me of a young Matt Bellamy and seeing as I saw MUSE a number of times at The Cavern back in the late 90’s, it was nice to think that he was standing in the footsteps of one of his heroes.
They produces some amazing riffs, some proper heavy, some nice and melodic, at times, they teased the audience with a build up that resulted in the energy dropping back to the startline and then suddenly bringing it altogether in a mighty crescendo. Ed and Jake did a fine job of providing the foundation for Ollie to play over, some very interesting noises coming out of that guitar, imagine what he could do with a KAOS pad and a few bits of trickery thrown under the hood!
There set ended, no instruments were destroyed in the process which is good, I’m off to see these guys again on Friday 14th August at The Barrel House in Totnes as I want to see more. Certainly an act worth checking out if you get the chance.
After a short break and instrument swapping, we were ready for act number 2, another 3 piece from Exeter called Beverly Macca who have been described as "Proper DIY lo-fi indie punk" by James Santer from BBC Introducing Devon, I agree wholeheartedly with James!
Their sound was more raw, more punky than that of Dead Ground which certainly mixed things up a little, Sam Wood (bass) had just got back from somewhere (I had my earplugs in!) but I learned that he was off to join the army in a couple of weeks, I hope that he’d be taking his bass away to boot camp!
Their sound came together a little more towards the end of their set with the last 2 tracks sounding a lot tighter than their opening few did, an interesting act that held their own, if you enjoy your DIY punk mixed with a bit of lo-fi indie, then they’ll definitely not disappoint.
Act numero trois was another 3 piece Exeter band called ‘Selfish Son’, the singer/guitarist’s gravel toned voice couple with the female bass players innocent, tip-toe like tones really worked well and the resulting sound added immensely to the music.
Some great guitar melodies offered yet more variation from the raw, unhinged sound of Beverly Macca, that said, they played one track that was a real stomper sounding more like a track from another Baltimore band called Roddy Walston and the Business, I wonder if War on Women know them, it’s only a small town after all!) They launched into a new song that Sam admitted they “might f*ck it up”, all semmed to go swimmingly, no f*ck ups were noticed (at least not from me…)!
It dawned on me after their set that I knew the singer from somewhere, it appeared that he used to be in a band called ‘Cereal’ and we saw them a couple of years back at The Cavern when they supported a band called Little Matador, he was great then and even greater now, make every effort to check this band out.
So, onto the main act of the evening. Their European tour had already taken them across Switzerland, Germany and Slovenia, it was now the time for the UK to welcome them onto our shores. They had already played Cambridge, London and Bristol and after the Exeter show were nipping up to Edinburgh (as one does) before heading back to Norwich to play at The Owl Sanctuary where I hope they had miniature pairs of ear defenders provided for the owls to wear as I don’t think they’re into the type of music that W.O.W. produce! After the UK dates, they were off to Belgium prior to finishing off after a week in Germany, quite a feat in a little over 3 weeks!
War on Women describe themselves as a co-ed, feminist hardcore punk band who can also cut it as a rock/thrash/metal/riot band in their dedication to producing some kick ass songs covering a multitude of topics.
They took to the stage at The Cavern over a blend of tribal beats and chants before unleashing straight into their powerful opening track, causing the front 3-4 rows to wake up and get involved. Nancy had the audience eating out of her hands in no time at all, she’s such a charismatic and energetic person, you couldn’t help but get involved. Their music covered a multitude of topics including sexual harassment, rape and the desire to be listened to and treated as an equal in this too often perceived male led world. I forget the track but at one stage, she was purring the words, “Take me”, with a real provocative look on her face, this soon changed to her shouting and then screaming, “Take me…….take me….take me seriously”, a great play on the dual meaning of the words which can often become confused in this fucked up world in which we reside.
Their attitude was very confrontational, very brash and very full on, for a non regular gig goer, you may have wanted to slide out of the front rows and take in the rest of the show from the safety of the bar, for those who understood what these 5 influential and super talented musicians were talking about, it was a loud wake up call to think twice about issues that happen all around us but so often go unnoticed.
They released their eponymous debut long player in February 2015, this followed their previous EP ‘Improvised Weapons’ which was released back in 2013. The album is receiving rave reviews across the board with comments such as “Truly superior feminist hardcore punk” and “If Kathleen Hanna fronted Lifetime”, it really is worth a listen, get yourself a copy at their shows or head to Amazon where they have both CD’s and Records in stock right now.
I’ll leave you with a great quote that I saw years ago by a Taiwanese Texan comedian called Sheng Wang….
“Why do people say "grow some balls"? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.”
For more great gigs coming up at The Cavern in Exeter, please click HERE
Review by Steve Muscutt
Photography by 241 Photography