Live Review: Skating Polly & The Menstrual Cramps - Sebright Arms, London 11/09/2018
There are few bands that truly capture the gritty punk spirit of a few decades ago, but – despite already having five albums under their belt – there is a lesser-known band from Oklahoma who are steadily turning heads, this side of the pond.
In support of their latest album The Make It All Show, Skating Polly took to the Sebright Arms’ tiny basement to play a sweaty rock show. Support came from The Menstrual Cramps who are a Riot Grrrl quartet from Bristol. Outspoken and hilarious, The Menstrual Cramps charmed the crowd with their raucous songs, spewing their political opinions and experiences of sexism – notably about the video for their debut single being banned on YouTube, due to a nip slip, even though there is a “video of a cowboy with his cock out” with no protests from YouTube, at all.
Frontwoman Emilia had a stage presence that swung back and forth from Sinead O’Connor and Johnny Rotten, with the rest of the band bringing an element of The Distillers. Successfully doing their job in warming up the crowd, the room became noticeably hotter when the time neared for Skating Polly to come on. The Menstrual Cramps ended their set with a song called “Frack Off” which is about our “bullshit government [who] should invest in sustainable renewability” Emilia jumped into the crowd and proceeded to shout “Fuck you” in the faces of various people and then apologising about it afterwards, whilst the other bandmates giggled in the background.
A few moments later, Skating Polly stormed the stage with surprising presence for such tiny people. Their fast-paced set contained classics such as ‘Nothing More Than A Body’, ‘Alabama Movies’ and ‘Hail Mary’, which gained a huge appreciation from the crowd – the combination of Kelli Mayo’s melancholic bass guitar and piercing gravelly voice with Peyton Bighorse’s melodic backing vocals and lithe shredding guitar skills was in perfect synchronicity. Not spending too much time talking in between songs – apart from a few hiccups with the snare drum and bass amps – Mayo was in full control of the crowd, with her high kicks and gritty facial expressions.
Telling the story of how a guy in high school made her out to be obsessed with him and complained that all her songs were too ‘screamy’, Mayo introduced ‘Perfume For Now’ which is an angsty grunge anthem, before switching instruments with Bighorse to play the riotous ‘Camelot’ which is a tongue in cheek look at the American housewife stereotype. Next came the psychotic mind game song, ‘They’re Free (I’m Cheap)’, which started off fine, but led to a bass guitar failure before the hook. After a few fleeting moments and a very patient crowd, Skating Polly finished the song and left the sweaty East London basement clinging on their every word.
Words by Tyler Damara Kelly and Photography by Ant Adams