Muncie Girls are a punk band from Exeter, fronted by Lande Hekt, whose songs power the band. They recently released their second album, “Fixed Ideals”. It’s an excellent album, which will be in my top ten for 2018, no doubt. I came across it in an unusual way. I was asked to review it for a website called Punk Archive. Take a look at my review if you are interested. Because of that I read the PR blurb with interest and, as a result, didn’t just enjoy the riffs and the sound, but listened closely to the lyrics. Lande is brutally honest about the challenges she has faced in her own life, and is trenchant about today’s politics and social mores. All of this made me like the band even more. Their sound is best described as punk pop, some of it quite American, but the ethos is pure punk from those early days. The Clash would be proud of Muncie Girls.
Because I liked the album so much, I had to try to see them. And they were playing the Borderline in Soho, just off Charing Cross Road. I like it. Quite small, but a nice size for up-and-coming bands. Last time I was there it was for Catfish and the Bottlemen would you believe? Only problem is a large pillar in the middle of the room that blocks a few views. But if it holds the roof up, that’s OK, I guess!
Just before the band came on they played Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”. When the show finished it was “Dancing in the Dark”. Did this mean something? I hope so! Bruce’s music, which I love so much, is a mixture of anger, hope and redemption through music; and maybe that is what inspires Lande as she writes her songs.
I haven’t quite managed to put names to all the songs so that I can instantly name them in the live environment, but I’m pretty sure they started with “Locked Up” from the new album and then went into “Learned at School” from the first album “From Caplan to Belsize”. The titles of both albums are taken from Sylvia Plath poems, which tells you where Lande is coming from. Overall the set was a fast paced punk delight, the songs a rousing call to protest and dance. The audience was there with the band. A great vibe.
Five songs in was my favourite tune. The opener for “Fixed ideals”. It’s called “Jeremy” and is a hard-hitting put down of her father, who seems to have deserted his family when they were quite young. And has also become right wing in his politics. Quite a few of Lande’s songs are also about how her family have supported her through her life. It is powerfully felt. When I first heard “Jeremy”, I loved the lines, I’m so angry I want to get a tattoo, that says fuck Jeremy Clarkson and fuck you too. Taken aback too – are you saying this to your Dad in public? It was interesting therefore that Lande introduced this song by saying that she was nervous about ever singing it. I can understand that. But her songs are articulating her anger and anxiety, which is part of what makes them so resonant.
The whole show was a bundle of energy, melody and great rock’n’roll. Recent single “Picture of Health” was a highlight, as were “Falling Down” and “Isn’t Life Funny?” And I was glad to see Lande slow down the pace and sing “Hangovers”, which is about… hangovers. And regret.
The show was only about 45 minutes, including encore. That’s OK, it’s high energy and I’m sure that it is pretty intense for Lande to be singing about some of the things she does. My second favourite tune, “Fig Tree” didn’t get an airing – the guitar in that reminds me of the Strokes, which is a big recommendation. But it was a great 45 minutes, and I hope Muncie Girls go on to bigger and greater things. Lande Hekt is a real star.