Kate Nash: Feminist Punk Princess of Our Dreams

Going to a Kate Nash show was probably the best way to get over a loss. The liberal party of BC had just won the provincial election – much to everyone’s surprise – and we were going to be stuck with four more years of stupidity and right-wing economic policy led by an airheaded bimbo. So you see, a fem garage-punk show was really the best medicine. And not just any punk show, a Kate Nash punk show. Not only is she a bitchin’ musician, she is also the most underrated cool person you will ever meet.

I had a chance to speak with her before the show. Not only was her album ‘Girl Talk’ a cathartic healing process – it was either that or jumping off a cliff as she put it – but it genuinely explores ideas of female empowerment and femininity. Like a true heroine, she self-released it after getting dumped by her label. In addition to integrating gender themes into her music, she also started what amounts a rock camp for young girls in the UK (did I mention she’s British?) and is currently trying to bring a similar concept to the United States. In addition she is the global ambassador for Protect a Girl and got to travel to Africa earlier this year as a result. Can she get any cooler? Sure she can. She supports the jailed Russian all-girl punk group Pussy Riot and collected donations for the homeless during the London riots. Will she marry me already? (I’m kind of in love with all things British.)

The show itself was “off the hook” as we say in East Vancouver. (Okay, so it’s not exclusively an East Van thing, and it’s more of a hip-hop reference but it seems appropriate so fuck you all). While her sound was definitely influenced by and had shades of Riot grrrl, it wasn’t quite as raw sounding and was a little more diverse. But one her heroes – both personally and creatively – is Kathleen Hanna, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise as to the style of her music. In fact, if you take the sensibilities and musicality of Hanna, and combine it with the vulgarity and mouth of Adele, you get Kate Nash in a nutshell. Her backing band is all chicks, and I’m assuming international (all I know is that her guitarist is Italian). She kept switching back and forth between guitar and bass all night, which I loved. The only thing cooler than a chick who can rock the drums is one who can strum a bass.

She shared stories, both personal and ones from others, and like every punk artist ever, had a “fuck you” song. Yet, her attitude is, at times, more subtle. She is not the rah-rah in-your-face hellraiser that we often see in the punk scene with bands like Bad Religion, Black Flag, The Sex Pistols, The Clash and Pennywise. But she is not afraid in your face either. She told off a couple who were interrupting her show (who knows what they were up to) and the audience at the Electric Owl cheered. Clearly, you don’t fuck with Kate Nash. You don’t try and put any junk past a punk.

It was loud, it was proud, it was your typical Tuesday-Night-in-east-van-punk type of crowd. There was drunkenness, dancing, cursing, and flirting. (And that was just from Kate Nash). The fuck yous, the rah-rahs, the British sensibilities and sense of humour; all were present that evening. It really like an epic punk dream. Or perhaps something that happens in my apartment. Or your basement (I’m sure Kate would play there if you asked her to).  It was the ultimate fem-garage-punk show with the ultimate feminist punk princess that we all want to rescue from the capitalist castle. In other words, it was pretty fuckin’ awesome.

Girl Talk was released on March 4th, 2013.

RIYL: Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, JD Samson, MEN, The Receders, Bitch & Animal


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