She Drew the Gun are unquestionably a product of government disenfranchisement. It then comes as no surprise that the five-piece ensemble originates from Wirral, Northwest England, a fountain of rebellious anti-establishment individuals for decades. Front-woman, Louisa Roach, is a totem for change. Her uncompromising lyricism leaves no room for interpretation as she bashes austerity, homelessness and more topically climate change.
Certainly, the band’s performance is amplified by its visuals. Their silhouettes back-dropped by the Extinction Rebellion logo and 50’s style satirical advertisements for modern capitalism are a succinct portrayal of what She Drew the Gun are aiming for. A sign of the times, it seems, that such an image has garnered enough attention to fill Camden Town’s Electric Ballroom. My personal compliments to the band’s visual artist.
She Drew the Gun are therefore more than a band, a people’s movement. Because this is indeed a people’s band: starting out from winning Glastonbury’s Emerging Artist competition in 2016 amongst 5000 other entries.
How fitting that the gig falls amid further protests and demonstrations from climate activists Extinction Rebellion. ‘Trouble Every Day’ struck hard. Roach rewrote Frank Zappa’s 1966 original (with his estate’s full blessing) to suit her and her fans’ views of the world in the 21st century. ‘Wolf and Bird’ is sharp and poignant, accompanied by a stellar guitar riff. ‘Paradise’ is a melancholic serenade to capitalism, a bitter admittance of dependence: “You’ve got everything you need // There’s nothing to believe”.
But the best moments of the set are sometimes marred with flimsy fillers. ‘Ocean Song’ borders on shoe-gaze and sits awkwardly in the middle of the setlist. ‘Resister’ eggs on listeners to fight for change but is performed with lacklustre energy and falls flat. The creative choice to combine dreamy psych-pop instrumentals with angry, anti-system messages may confuse first-time listeners.
Louisa Roach admits herself she is a flawed character. ‘Human’ is ode to this. “This one’s about how we’re allowed to make the same mistakes twice”, she says as she introduces her solo song, returning for an encore. As the spotlight twirls around her, we are reminded that personal problems are no less important than societal ones.
Despite these reservations, She Drew the Gun are important because they are unafraid to be outside the box. In such turbulent times, this band is a magnet to attract all those with disdain for the system. “It’s good to be in a room full of people who feel the same way”, she said as her eyes twinkled with contentment in a lull between songs.
Louisa Roach and her band-mates are ones to watch and more details about them can be found here: facebook.com/SheDrewTheGun
Review by Byron Gamble
Photography by Rupert Hitchcox: ruperthitchcox.photography