Bad Grammar

Bad Grammar


When I arrive at The Castle Hotel, unfortunately it’s too late for the first band Elephantine, but I am on time for support act Violet Violet. The Norwich duo, Felicity/Fliss Kitson on drums and Cheri Percy on guitar, have been playing together since they met at sixth form but decided to call it quits in 2010, after 8 years, to focus on their education, their other passions and, for Kitson, on other musical projects (The Nightingales, The Broken Seas). This gig is, therefore, a one off to support their friends Bad Grammar. The ladies share vocal duties and then each give their contribution to the world of noise with distorted guitars and incredibly vigorous drumming.

The contrast between their polished accents, vintage dresses, lack of visible loud tattoos or makeup and the musical storm and screams they produce on stage is simply delightful, although The Castle too, like other Mancunian venues, is guilty – in my opinion – of overamplifying this 4x10mt room in which Violet Violet and Bad Grammar could certainly even play unplugged and still make the windows crash. A few people are wearing earplugs. While Violet Violet play, Lucy Brown of Bad Grammar dances at the front. Clearly, it’s a music family affair.

The lyrics range from songs about kidnapped cats to dicks (men, not the appendages) and motherfuckers, and the presence of dicks does not compromise the elegance displayed on stage. The audience is enthusiastic. Those songs about heartbreaks and crushes do not sound too credible, since the delivery is mostly ironic and light-hearted, and we struggle to imagine these two cool ladies crying on their bed for a dick that broke their heart, frankly. More likely the opposite. What we’ve got here is postmodern feminism blaring from the amplifiers, seasoned with frilly dresses and cat stories. My favourite bit of this part of the night: two male friends commenting on tonight’s line-up and sighing: ‘nowadays it’s more girls in bands than ever!’ That’s only good, dear guy, fear not the vagina dentata!

Bad Grammar by Francesca Nottola

Bad Grammar by Francesca Nottola

Bad Grammar eventually get on stage at around 10pm and the start is volcanic. Lucy Brown at the drums is already a spectacle, with her colourful shirts and ginger locks that fly everywhere as she rocks The Castle Hotel. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, but Ben Forrester’s  performance makes me think of Pelle Almqvist, the crazy motherfucking (Violet Violet started the swearing and I follow suit) singer of The Hives, although the general sound of Bad Grammar tonight reminds me instead of Nirvana’s ‘Stay Away’. I don’t think the duo would mention grunge as a main influence, but I do hear it very clearly in Forrester’s guitar and also in Brown’s drumming, which could both perfectly fit in a Soundgarden album. This is particularly true of the brilliant ‘Temper Temper’, which comes with an extremely British video populated with drunken lads and featuring Bad Grammar themselves in a mix of perplexity and disgust. Their puzzled looks are priceless.

Lucy Brown dances among those drums and cymbals, and it’s quite funny when Forrester announces that they are playing a new song and Brown goes: ‘Which one?!??’ Adorable. Then they look and smile at each other and strike another attack on our hearing with guitar and sticks. Things are certainly not understated with Bad Grammar: they are loud and proud. The energy loaded onto those drums is incredible and I wonder where such a petite creature can get that force from.

Bad Grammar have existed since 2012, but they already have an EP out (Forced Fun) and have attracted the attention of Xfm, 6Music and NME, and will undoubtedly get more, because they are smashing musicians, they have an actual sense of humour and, between a storm of sound and another, they smile and thank in the most composed British way, which is nice. Their 1-hour long set of about 10 songs includes a mix of old and new songs, and tonight’s (sold out) gig is for the launch of their latest single ‘Clown’, which also has a hilarious video. They are worth listening even just for the titles: ‘Tie or Die’, ‘Weekend Dad’, ‘Stay Toned’, ‘Miley Serious’.

Cheri from Violet Violet joins Bad Grammar on stage for the end of the show, while Ben Forrester descends among the audience to dance, headbang, sing and, well, scream.

We’ll undoubtedly hear more about Bad Grammar. Don’t miss their next gigs near you in the next few months.

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Francesca Nottola

I write, translate, edit texts and take pictures. I solve problems for pensioners and create problems to everyone else. Sometimes a history researcher and language tutor, I would happily live in a national archive or in the head of professional musicians. Unfortunately, I say what I think