Words: Keira Trethowan | Images: Craig Taylor - Broad Photography
The venue was the right side of insalubrious; the bands were sound-checked and primed for an imminent explosion; and my whole body was prepared for the boisterous hype that surrounded Petrol Girls. Yet after having the lyrics “touch me again and I’ll fucking kill you” shrieked brutally at me, the night left me questioning whether or not I even like music anymore.
Starting with a bang were a tasty trio from our Cornish music circuit. Honey are a far cry away from being my favourite local band, but in a spirit of grunge-soused exuberance they owned the stage and utterly showed up the touring artists. Their performance was the very definition of everything that the event should have been: bassist Ele Lucas demonstrated a fiery and fiendish energy; guitarist Sarah Tyrrell out-sparkled her sequined dress; and new drummer Tyler Ireson added a fresh and dynamic vibe that took the group to a whole new platform of brilliance. I do wish that Sarah had lost a bit more of her guarded self-control, but their set still left me longing to horde their merchandise. They were the highlight of the night, and without them I would have been left longing to morph into a 300ft lizard with intentions to destroy Plymouth.
With such a substantial act to follow, pianist solo-artist Perkie didn’t stand a chance. Not only was her timidly quiet performance a bit of a surreal mood-killer after a grunge act, but her under-rehearsed set was a kick in the face of every other talented act who could have filled her spot. Regardless of possessing an amiable singing voice, if you can’t be bothered to remember your own material, then why should anyone bother to listen?
After this disappointment I was eager for something colourful and destructive. Certainly Petrol Girls possessed these qualities – courtesy of frontwoman Ren Aldridge – yet with the remainder of the band playing some maladapted version of musical statues, it led for something vastly disjointed. This aside however, I was willing to live and let live and allow myself to be absorbed in the raucous screamo vibes. This atmosphere was aggressive and uncomfortable, but a passionate channelling of angst is always something artistically majestic to witness. Shortly into their set however, the group lost me.
With vast amount of sentiment and thoughts Aldridge is clearly a vocalist with a lot to articulate. What she lacked however, was the ability to do so in an eloquent or even borderline intelligible manner musically. Openly feminist lyricists impress me wholeheartedly, but those who believe the movement to revolve around idealisms of misandry cause me to bite my fingernails down to bloody little stumps in frustration. Somewhere along the way a man has clearly shattered her heart into thousands of tiny little shards, which she now uses to antagonistically cut her audience’s wellbeing to shards. Not only did this rile me up, but it also tainted the performance and made me question the band’s success.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’m glad that I watched Petrol Girls. They made me appreciate other, more creatively superior, acts that I’ve seen recently.