Rough Trade East, London

21st August 2023

Photography by @stiff_material

Sam Howell

Taken to the internet after my friends stopped listening to my music recommendations. Brighton based. 19.


cumgirl8, a Manhattan based Punk act, graced the stage of Rough Trade East in a joint gig/signing event. The band, comprising of Lida Fox (bass/vocals), Veronika Vilim (guitar/vocals), Avishag Cohen Rodrigues (guitar), and Chase Lombardo (drums/vocals) celebrated their new EP release, which they will be touring for in November.

Since the band’s inception they have revelled in pushing boundaries with their music. It is a natural step in the ‘riot grrrl’ progression, incorporating contemporary sounds from  hyperpop, post and classic punk alike, all wrapped in an eccentric, wild package. Their lyrics explore themes of sexual liberation, anti-capitalistism and vicious critiques on the patriarchal monopoly that rules our modern world.

With the ‘phantasea pharm’ EP, they explored a wider range of genres and soundscapes. Building on their established combination of noise pop and punk, they incorporated more electronic experimentation. Incorporating a heavy synth foundation to their songs, paired with angular guitar work distinctive of early post-punk and thrilling vocal performances, the tracks wormed through headphones to fester in your ear drums for weeks.

Their set featured mainly songs from their recent singles and EP, proving how effectively they can translate to a live setting. The set began with Bugs featuring Fox on vocals. She engaged in an intoxicating drawl, both bold and lugubrious in its command, interplaying with the guitar, forming a driving intensity: an undeniably chilling opening to the act.

Proving their versatility they continued into ‘gothgirl1’ featuring ghostly backing vocals unfurling over the instrumentation like cold silk. Its heightened tempo and low buzz bass acted in antithesis to the vocals, strengthening one another in birthing a modern goth rock opus.

Their performance of ‘ciccolina’ elevated the track to even greater heights in a live setting. It ventured into the realms of dance punk with an infectious disco groove and head beating bass line, all laying the foundations for the guitars to wail, lathered in reverb, soaring above the mix with ease. A standout of the track was Lombardo’s vocal performance in the breakdown, raising in ferocity until one last cheer was let out and the band reunited in a cathartic final chorus.

‘Cool’ would be the only word to describe the performance of cumgirl8. There was no pretence or postering, it was an authentic showcase in what makes the group such an electric presence. Not one member felt like the main event, with them trading vocal and instrumental duties throughout their set. Each individual proved themselves to be crucial to the art they make.

The sonic progression of the night went from a classic four piece punk instrumentation to include more electronic components as the set continued. In some cases this could detract from the performance with the band hunched over synths, but it only freed up the members to traverse the stage more.

Lombardo, without the limitations of a kit was able to join the rest of the band at the front and dance alongside them. Rodrigues substituted her guitar for a synth halfway through the show. She cradled it while swaggering back and forth, lurching around the stage while steadfastly staring above the crowd, commanding an unapologetically powerful presence.

The venue was a disappointing aspect to the show. There were obvious limitations due to it’s main use as a record store, not allowing for an explosive experience that had been said of past cumgirl8 shows. The mixing left a lot to be desired where some of the intricacies of the performance were muffled and buried amongst each other. There were times where the bass felt displaced amongst the rest of the instruments, sounding more like an indistinguishable thump felt by a rattle in the head.

Unfortunately, there was a voyeuristic aspect coming from a majority of the spectators. It embedded a discord between the politics of the band and the viewers who seemed more interested in filming them, than listening to what they were saying.

This, however, lead to one of the best moments in the whole show, during picture party’. Vilim was on the shoulders of Lombardo screaming: ‘You take pictures of me without my consent?! Pay Me First!’ It was a genuinely powerful moment that illustrated the exact attitudes and characters that cumgirl8 work to dismantle. Ironically the audience proved just why bands like cumgirl8 and the messages they convey are still so crucial to be heard.  

The experience of seeing cumGirl8 is one I would not trade for anything. It was a demonstration of an unbridled vehemence seeping from the stage. They were undeterred by influences out of their control, refusing to play into anyone’s whims other than their own. Their upcoming November tour will give many the lucky opportunity to see them live. An opportunity that I personally will jump at and cannot recommend enough for anyone interested in seeing a new fringe in punk music.

Listen to the EP here: