Live Review: Miss June + Pretty Sick at The Lexington, Islington

Tonight’s show at the Lexington in London is the culmination of Miss June’s UK tour to support their debut album Bad Luck Party, and given what I witnessed tonight probably one of the last times they will play to anything other than a packed venue. But I get ahead of myself as this was a two act gig with support from New York three-piece Pretty Sick. Bandcamp lists them as Sabrina Fuentes on bass and vocals, and she’s joined by Wade Oates on guitar, and Austin Williamson on drums but tonight they were rocking two basses with Sabrina providing the low end and Orazio Argentero using his bass as a proxy 6-string guitar bashing out power chords and fuzzed-up lead runs. They have a rhythmic, post-punk sound that was almost Nineties-Indie with a thick layer of attitude; a loose and raw sound with Sabrina’s ululating vocal style surfing over the top. Youthful looks belie the assurance of their performance and the bouncing pack of fans crammed at the front demonstrated that they already have a strong fan-base in London.

Listening to the album in the weeks before the gig I could feel that the digital files were barely able to contain the energy that Miss June put out and they did not disappoint, arriving on stage with a demeanour crackling with nervous energy; seemingly in a hurry to do what they do so well…PLAY LOUD AND IN YOUR FACE! The songs explode from digital to analogue and have a different intensity; with the band putting across an almost anxious determination to have the audience experience their whole performance in one instant sonic detonation. They tore through albums tracks and such is their confidence they tossed ‘Best Girl’ into the set very early on. It would be like Nirvana playing ‘Teen Spirit’ in the first fifteen minutes of the show and Miss June demonstrate all the power, prowess and the politics of alienation that Nirvana did with songs about estranged parents, self-destructive relationships and living in such unsettled times.

There’s an exuberant anger in their DNA and each member of the band was totally focused on their part in delivering a stellar performance. Annabel Liddell (vocals, guitar) prowled the stage, climbed the drums and spent time balancing on a monitor, leaning out over the audience as if to be at once in the band and part of the crowd. Tom Leggett (drums) and Chris Marshall (bass) were an outstanding rhythm section, like steel reinforced concrete making sure the building didn’t collapse. But special mention should go to guitarist Jun Park who was like an agitated feral animal trapped on stage, trying everything to get off. At one point he was in the audience at another he climbed the towering DJ booth next to the stage and all of this while playing chords and riffs that made his amp howl at the moon.

Although they may be touring on a shoestring, living hand to mouth and hungry for recognition and financial stability; Miss June are in the sweet spot for a band as they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. They are lean and mean and poised to be an apex predator on the food chain of live performance so sign up to their mailing list and catch them next time they are in the UK.

Review and photography by Paul F Cook

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