Review: She Keeps Bees at The Britannia

London relies on the underground. When the tubes stop working for 2 days, mayhem ensues. Mayhem costing £100 million. Mmm, expensive mayhem. Fun times. I was super keen to see She Keeps Bees and managed to avert the tube strike fuss because a friend super kindly offered for me to stay the night in a spare room in his place in Hackney.

The Britannia is a nice pub on the edge of Victoria Park. The weather was lovely and I took a leisurely stroll over there, not after getting minor-ly lost. My hand drawn map wasn’t all that great.

The first act was  a lady called Alice Ballantine, it was straight ahead folky stuff, pleasant. The second band was a musician from Toronto, Katie Stelmanis, who played keybpard and sang, joined by her friend on drums. and xylophone I loved their set. Katie had a brilliant voice and it all sounded great despite everything being channeled through one amp. She’s got a whole bunch of London dates, I’d quite like to see her play agin. Visit her Myspace.

It gradually darked and got dimmer in the pub, with members of a cricket team stopping in after a game on the park. The pub was not busy at all; pretty hard to get to while public transport was psycho. I came across She Keeps Bees at the start of the year, tipped off by the infinitely amazing Sharon Van Etten. She’s a gift that just keeps on giving (!). He new record is brilliant, too. Definately one to seek out. Amazing, amazing, amazing. Anyway, I have veered off on a Sharon-centric tangent. Sharon recommended She Keeps Bees and while she was over here a few weeks ago told me about how brilliant they are live. I was super excited to hear them play.

Rightly so! They were astounding. If you haven’t listened to them yet, do it. Right now. Best band I’ve seen in a while. Chunky, bluesy guitar, drums, and Jessica’s amazing vocals. It was perfect. Jessica was super chatty and very endearing, clearly loving the novelty of being in London, joking about bangers and mash and jumping over an old lady. She was joking about how fat she is  (she isn’t actually fat at all, pffft!) and then got on to Cat Power and called herself the fat Cat Power. It was sweet and made me laugh. I’ve been a Cat Power fan for years, but Jessica’s performance was so magnetic, even if someone told me Cat Power was  playing in the next room I highly doubt I could have pulled myself away from She Keeps Bees. I loved it. After their set I went to say hi and give Jessica a hug, she was super excitable at the mention of Sharon and was very lovely indeed, it was a treat to meet her.

They are over here all summer, they’ll be playing every Wednesday at The Britannia, for FREE, no less, and I would highly recommend playing them a visit. The show and the rest of the residency is put on by The Local, who seem to put on alot of great shows, so keep track of them too. Their website is here. And SKB are playing End of the Road too- hurrah! Excellent.

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