Dazed but not confused
Bleached - Live At Birthdays, London

The enormous letter B on the front of this new venue’s glass front is unmissable, so the cab shrieks to a halt, after the driver is bombarded with yelps of “Here! Here!” This must be the place, as the big, bold B beckons to enter the establishment to see Bleached. Maybe it’s kismet that Bleached get their own massive initial emblem on the venue that’s Dalston’s new hip place to be (yes, another one) and Birthdays is certainly happening. In any case, their fizzy, rockin show may make this place and London their darlings, and dedicate the B to them.

Setting foot along the sidewalk and through construction, cement dust, and residual elements of depravity, to enter into a film set spotlight against black swaths of curtain. The light directs you down the stairs and through double doors into the beginning of a long room which is sparse and totally white, only lined with band posters for decoration, and filled with dry ice. There are a few muted lights and it kinda resembles Andy Warhol’s Factory before Billy Name dressed the space in foil. At the end of the room is the stage, on which the support band Paws are playing, or shall I say destroying and reconstructing their instruments, as they see fit. Raucous, cantankerous, tooth throbbing mix of rock, grunge, and post punk, and no wave. Hard to believe this three-piece onslaught is from the support act.

Bleached slink on to stage, tequila in one hand, guitars in the other, both Clavin sisters looking happily dishevelled, as one expects on the final night of a UK tour. A shot of tequila down the lead singer’s throat, and they’re off – into first song ‘Looking For A Fight’ – the lawlessness they brought to their previous band is still intact (they include a cover of Misfits in their set). The combination of their garage girl group pop rumbles headlong throughout the tinny three-chord rhythm guitar parts, and with deadpan bass patterns and thunderous drumming, it’s loud and fantastic. Simultaneously, the lead guitar Clavin sister adds an overlay of shimmery LA surf pop, which slides together with her sister’s Spectorish vocals. When singer Jennifer chimes out yearningly for someone to “come on back to me” and the rest of the group join in and echo it in reverie repeatedly in ‘Searching Through The Past’, the effect is particularly striking.

NYC look in setting, LA feel in sound, tonight Bleached seem to encapsulate a certain type of underground American band right now (Dum Dum Girls, Best Coast), and although the UK was awash with groups who sounded like this twenty five years ago – The Flatmates, Shop Assistants – these girls and guy seem to do it with more confidence, competence and relevance. Dazed but not confused.

Words by Libby Moné

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