Photography by Rosie Alice Wilson

Willow Shields
Willow Shields

London’s least professional music photographer and journalist, can be found most evenings in your local small venue drinking vodka lemonades and being told secrets.

SON Estrella Galicia, a project for people who love beer and music, curated by people who love beer and music. That’s doing good for the planet and putting on unforgettable shows in partnership with Paper Dress Vintage.

Walking up to Paper Dress Vintage last Thursday, it was brisk, dark, and quiet – from the outside. However, being welcomed through the doors of the Hackney venue, photographer Rosie Alice Wilson and I were met with the warmth of bodies squished together and the smell of Spanish beer. At the door we were gifted two Estrella Galicia beer tokens each, which we quickly cashed in. When we turned from the bar we came across a contraption which if I wasn’t ‘in the know’ would have totally confused me. But since I was, we ogled at the live recycling display for a few minutes. SON Estrella Galicia is a music project offshoot of the Spanish beer company, who have partnered with Paper Dress to facilitate unforgettable experiences for people who love beer and music. While making a positive impact on the planet, hence the live recycling. 

We were regrettably late so having missed the support band Melenas, who were apparently insanely good – note to self: must see them when they play next – we shuffled past the bar and into the garden to see what’s happening in the ‘Yard’ portion of the event. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of recycling bins in the open yard, which is something I truly believe is something that SON Estrella Galacia is doing so much better than many others, there are never enough bins in venues! For example; when you’re stuck at the opposite of the smoking area with an empty cup and it’s so crowded you can barely move, and there are no places for your cup, so you just put it on the nearest table or on the ground, hoping for the best. EW! Anyway, recycling rant over, let’s get to some music. 

After exploring the yard, looking at people’s tapas, deciding we couldn’t afford tapas and watching the DJ for a bit we ventured back inside and up stairs. Where the headlining band, DEADLETTER, were soundchecking. I had only seen the band live in passing a couple of times at festivals back in summer, so I was apprehensive to get a proper taste of what DEADLETTER were about. They did not disappoint. I can, without a doubt, say it was one of the most fun shows I’ve been to for a hot minute. Rosie and I were slap bang at the front, her taking photos, me dancing away. I knew the chorus of maybe one of their songs I had reviewed over a year ago, but their energy and slightly scary vibe was met by a totally enthralled crowd – including myself. 

Their stage presence, for me, is only comparable to Shame circa 2018. With all the instrument players looking slightly moody and standing for the most part still, but having a good time nonetheless. With their figurehead being lead vocalist Zac Lawrence who presumably moonlights as a Celine model. Driving the songs, staring into the crowd as if they are his apostles, then walking among them, shouting about political and personal strife. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, in the way that I was mainly surrounded by women, and was dancing in what felt like a beautifully cultivated community. But, I have to admit there is a certain air of pretension about the band. Maybe that’s what I like about them. They have a very strong image, which might not be immediately obvious, but the old looking, ripped clothes, doc martens paired with the fact all members of the band have a very specific look, re: Celine models. It’s just all a bit predictable from the ‘London post-punk’ bands now. I have to give it to DEADLETTER though, the relationship they build with crowds has to be respected. Looking around in the hour or so we were upstairs, all the faces I saw were either transfixed on the band or chaotically moshing in the centre of the room. 

After DEADLETTER had finished taking their tops off and playing their greatest hits, the top room emptied. Rosie and I nearly got stuck in the toilet and then did in fact get stuck in the garden. Perhaps the event organisers thought that everyone would leave immediately after the headline band or maybe it was something to do with licensing. But having closed the Yard, seemingly everyone who had been in the venue and surrounding areas were squeezed into the tiny back garden. Rosie and I made it to the corner near the back door out onto the street, we sat between scattered members of DEADLETTER and three people talking about how they’re mates with Miles Kane and that he’s a bit of a prat but ‘not that bad’ once you get to know him. We decided the vibes had shifted to rancid and got the frick out of there! 

All in all though, SON Estrella Galicia are doing really cool things with this project. And Rosie and I had a really fun night. I love their message about doing good for the planet while also facilitating a fun time for everyone involved. And that they’re not just saying lots of things about doing good, but actually doing the good. DEADLETTER are categorically a really good live band, who know how to engage an audience better than most bands in that scene at the moment. But perhaps allow more outside space for everyone after the headliner so people can keep being nice to each other for the whole evening. 

Listen to DEADLETTER here:

Find out more about SON Estrella Galicia here: