Call me Russ L

Gallows humour. Without the humour.

Posted in Music by Russ L on 8 January, 2006

Originally posted on 15/10/5.

The night of Monday the tenth was my first trip to The Gallows. Apparently it’s been open for ages, but only recently started having gigs. I Quite liked it – a dump and very tacky, for sure, but in a somehow endearing way like a lesser version of the much-missed Foundry (as opposed to being just a dump like the Royal George or just tacky like Edwards No. 8).

First on were The Bitter Lemonz. I… don’t know what to say. Ordinarily I wouldn’t dig into my reserves of vitriol for a band made up of the very young who have only played a small handful of gigs, and in fact I’m not going to here. I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to assail them for the faults that any such band will inevitably suffer from. The trouble is, though, that The Bitter Lemonz are “Birmingham’s first all-lesbian pop-rock band” and that fact is going to get them a lot of attention far too early. They’ve already had an interview on the BBC website. Now, whether this is a deliberate part of a media offensive or whether it was unsolicited I don’t know, but I certainly hope it was the latter. They’re going to get torn apart anyway for not being able to play in time or having more than 50% of their set consist of original material anyway, so it’ll be even more tragic if they’re actually making efforts to bring it onto themselves.

Heroes Fall were on in the middle, playing screamy post-hardcore. It’s a common style and they weren’t doing anything new with it, but they were a fairly likeable example – they gave it a bit of welly, and Danni makes for a good genial frontman. Not amazing but definitely not bad.

My main reason for going was to see If I Started Killing, the new band featuring Alex and Ellen of the Communion. They play a varied knockabout sort of style with a spazzy air, death metal riffs, and doom-y bits. A comparison I really wasn’t expecting to make, though, is that the his ‘n’ hers vocals really bring to mind the old dual-vocaled anarcho bands like Nausea and whichever other names you used to see on the badly photocopied crust-punk distro lists that you never bought anything from but felt that you should. They gave off an air more of ‘having a laugh’ than ‘serious artistic’ statement (which is no bad thing) and I definitely found them to be a lot of fun.

Wednesday night it rained. A lot. A hell of a lot. This resulted in A) Me getting stupidly, stupidly wet; and B) the Medicine Bar leaking in and flooding. This had the knock-on-effect of the Kid606 gig that was due to happen their being cancelled. I am so angry with God about this rain. Christianity was brought to this country in 596AD by St Augustine, and what has the 1400 years of stringently observed Judao-Christian morality got us in the way of a reward? Rain, that’s what. Muslim countries are always sunny. Jah Rastafar-I gives Jamaica warmth. Us? Nah. I don’t think we should stand for it anymore. “Take up thy cross and follow me,” said the guv’nor’s son. Yes mate. You carry on ahead from now on. We’ll be right behind you, honest.

Anyway, the plan apparently became to have the artistes do some DJ sets at The Kitchen across the pond (not the Atlantic ocean. An actual pond), and I was in two minds whether to stay for that. Not concurrently, but consecutively. First I thought ‘alright then.’ Then I thought ‘Nah.’

So I didn’t.

~ Russ L


3 Responses

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  1. Heather said, on 1 February, 2006 at 11:50 pm

    To ‘Russ L’
    Thanks for your comments relating to the gig- we appreciate all feedback no matter how positive or constructive. As for the timing and set issues- we have sorted those as that gig was a turning point for what was to become major lineup changes.
    We don’t appreciate your damning comments about it being “tragic” to be public about our sexuality, however. Would you prefer us to try and pretend to blend in with all the other non-descript bands, living in fear of someone finding out our ‘secret’? or would you respect us more for getting there first and being open and ourselves – which, surely, is the essence of rock/punk/alternative music?!
    Thanks for your thoughts anyway, if you would like to contact us, maybe for a second opinion when we’re next playing, feel free to drop us a line at

    Bitter Lemonz guitarist/vocals

  2. Russ L said, on 2 February, 2006 at 8:49 am

    Woah, woah, woah there kemosabe. Please do not twist my words.

    The fact that you are public about your sexuality is not tragic, and nowhere have I said so. Re-read the paragraph about you band, if you wouldn’t mind – I wandered whether or not you were deliberately trying to court media attention at this early stage, and concluded that it would be a crying shame if you were. Nowhere have I stated or thought (implicitly or explicitly) that the fact that you’re out presents a problem.

    Without wanting to sound patronising, I can imagine that a lot of people do confront you with the old “Why do you have to make such a big deal about it?” nonsense and as a result it could be easy to reflexively become defensive any time the matter even seems to come up, but please do not use strawman arguments to assail me about a position I don’t actually hold. It belittles us all.

    I’ve read back what I wrote about you a few times now and I would honestly say that I do think it seems clear enough, but nonetheless if it wasn’t and I have caused any misunderstanding then I do apologise. These comments will no doubt help to serve as clarification.

    Happy to discuss,

    ~ Russ L

  3. Heather said, on 2 February, 2006 at 2:20 pm

    Cheers for clearing that up. Yes, it is easy to get defensive as that is a question we’re asked a lot – often in a negative way.
    As for media attention, why not? All publicity’s good publicity! Its not something that we put before the music – we’re all very clear about not wanting it to be “Hi, we’re The Bitter Lemonz, we’re gay and oh, we play instruments a bit too” as that would belittle everything WE stand for.
    To conclude- yes, we’re out, it shouldn’t be an issue but it often is so we deal with it and move on, we live for music and hopefully that will emerge more than ever when we start our summer tour.
    Russ (and anyone else who has doubts) – you are all formally invited to come and check out our new music and lineup this summer – dates will be on our website :)

    *I’ve read that through a few times and hope nothing in it is taken to offend or assail anyone’s position on anything*



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