She Keeps Bees, Jonjo Feather
Dannii Leivers 03/09/2009
On arrival at the sprawling Royal Park pub, we discover that She Keeps Bees' headline show is running about 45 minutes behind. Frustrating you might agree, since any hope of popping two doors down to the Brudenell Social Club to watch a bit of The Pastels' set just evaporated. But on the upside, it means Jonjo Feather, Hebden Bridge's own avant pop-star, is yet to perform. About ten foot tall with wild hair and dressed like Marc Bolan on a desert excursion, he cuts a distinctive looking figure, exuding cool like a nonchalant ice-pop. As does his music - sensually breathed vocals smothered by lo-fi, feedback-drenched rock n roll. A palpable star in the making, this guy deserves more than the criminally low amount of press coverage he's been receiving, so fuck it, lets give him some.
Throughout his performance, She Keeps Bees' vocalist Jessica Larrabee sits discreetly at a corner table, silently rolling a cigarette. Dressed in a red plaid shirt, jeans and worn boots, long hair tied back and make-up-less, she's hardly your glamorous rock chanteuse - that is until she has a microphone in front of her and a guitar strapped over her shoulder. Chatty and coquettish, she addresses the crowd, at one point demanding the sound levels be turned up until 'their ears bleed', another time quipping that no amount of make-up could improve her face, to shouts of disagreement. 'I'm in love with you!', one male yells unabashedly. We can't say we blame him to be honest.
The Brooklyn duo, made up of Larrabee and Andy LePlant on drums, are doomed by their very nature to suffer those lazy comparisons to The White Stripes and The Kills, although their much vaunted debut Nests should be enough persuasion that this has not all been done before. And although their gritty, stripped-back blues is augmented in this confined, congested and low ceilinged room, by dense slabs of molten guitar and heavy-handed drumming, it remains ancillary to their strongpoint - Larrabee's vocals. One moment a feral snarl, the next a seductive drawl, equal parts PJ Harvey and Cat Power, she literally transforms these simple compositions into something altogether brooding, ferocious and sexual. Get Gone culminates in the smashing of cymbals, Larrabee howling herself hoarse, while set highlight Gimmie sees her growling seductively, 'Work me like my back ain't got no bone.'
Sexy doesn't even come close.