Last night my friend Jon and I ventured up to Islington and a venue in an old warehouse called Electrowerkz to see a new young duo called Let’s Eat Grandma. Jon had heard them on 6 Music, and they are due to appear at Latitude, so we thought we’d give them a try.
Some brief research beforehand told me they were Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton, two 17 year olds from Norwich. Still at college, studying music. NME had an interview with them, which suggested they were making waves in the music industry. They had a few videos on YouTube which were inventive and the music, well, it was pretty hard to pin down. There were dance beats which came from their generation, but also a pot pourri of sounds and voices which reminded me variously of Bjork, Kate Bush, Lorde… and 70s prog. How did that come about? Listening to their parents’ records? Picking it up from their studies? Or just a natural desire to experiment? Whatever, it sounded promising.
Electrowerkz is very basic. The first floor of an old warehouse in a mews not far from the Angel. Everything painted black. The main room was like a cave. The bar sold cans of just about cold Red Stripe. The staff, dressed in regulation Goth black, clearly regarded it as a call beyond duty to smile at the customers. Welcome to North London!
First on was Fifi Rong, a woman of Chinese background, backed by two guys on bass and drums. The beats were mid tempo electronic and there was something quite exotic about it all. Fifi was pretty striking, and had a lovely voice. I guess my reference points would be Portishead (their mellow side), Innocence and Sade. She ended with a cover of The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love”, which was an interesting choice. Good stuff – I’ll be checking out her music on line. I did wonder how she had wound up at Electrowerkz supporting Let’s Eat Grandma. Especially later when I saw she had over 44,000 Twitter followers. I think she may have a following in China.
So on came Jenny and Rosa. They look like twins, with near identical big hair which would be the envy of any metal lead guitarist. The Lorde/Kate Bush thing again. There were an array of key boards, drums, guitars, but just the two of them. They really worked in partnership, taking turns, often during a song, on the machines and the drums, as well as vocals. The saxophone made a brief appearance, there were a couple of interesting guitar riffs, an electric mandolin – and a recorder added to the sense of wackiness on a few occasions. Underpinning everything was a contemporary pop/dance sensibility. My girls, who are about the same age, would recognise that, I think. I look forward to the day I hear them waxing lyrical about Let’s Eat Grandma and I can really annoy them by saying, oh yes, I saw them at Electrowerkz a year ago!
The set was fairly short – about 45 minutes – which is no surprise as they only have four songs out so far. I think an album is due quite soon. The tunes lend themselves to the extended workout live, and there’s always a surprising development just around the corner. But there’s method to the apparent randomness – these are cleverly constructed pieces.
I imagine this may have been the biggest concert to date, even though it was in a pretty shabby venue. The pair didn’t say a word to the audience – part of the image or nervousness, I don’t know. Maybe it would have helped if they were playing to more of their own generation. The audience was probably, on average, 25-35, with a sprinkling of oldies like us, and a few teenagers. I guess exam season on a chilly Wednesday night isn’t the most auspicious time to get the youth contingent out. I’ll be interested to see who comes to watch them at Latitude.
Anyway, a really interesting evening. I didn’t know what to expect, but what I got was two intriguing and enjoyable sets. Watch out for Fifi Rong and Let’s Eat Grandma!
Here’s the latest Let’s Eat Grandma video. A paean to Shiitake mushrooms …