May 8, 2013

IconHunter Valentine romance London fans

Candy bar seems to have a Marmite effect on lesbians. It is the only exclusively lesbian bar in London, so one would think that the entire lesbian contingent would be flocking there like it’s perpetually Dinah shore weekend. What do some lesbians object to? The following interchange between two of my friends sheds some light:

- “I believe ______ is going to Candy bar that night.”

- “Lol. Why?”

- “Because she loves chubby teenagers with bleach-dipped, asymmetric, flock-of-seagulls haircuts.”

It is true that the clientele are of a particular subsection of the lesbian community in London. One that doesn’t seem to be replicated in, for example, the lesbian basement of G-A-Y, the late First Out, and Ruby Tuesdays at Ku bar.

Credit is due, however, to Candy bar in their recent attempts to appeal to a wider range of lesbians. Chick habit live is an ‘indie/alternative’ night which features bands and DJ sets from notable acts. On Thursday night, I headed down there to see Hunter Valentine (of Real L Word fame/notoriety) supported by Battle of you and The cut outs.

 

Melody Patman from Battle of you. Photo: Laura Cunliffe (www.lercdesigns.com)

Battle of you were an absolute treat. An unpretentious five-piece band from Shoreditch with upbeat hooks that make every chorus as catchy as the last. Fantastic energy from lead singer (and aptly named) Melody Patman and keyboardist Nicola Hogg. Think Two door cinema club, but better. This is a band you must see live, but until I get the pleasure of this for a second time, I’ll be listening to their EP.

The cut outs. Photo: Laura Cunliffe (www.lercdesigns.com)

The cut outs were a very different breed; all dressed in black stripped back to a drum machine and two electric acoustic guitars. Perfect harmonies from the two ladies, however, the band seemed to lose the attention of the crowd after a couple of songs until the final brilliant version of The killers’ Mr Brightside. The cut outs’ ‘dirty-dance-rock’ did not lend itself as well to an acoustic set; they’re better when plugged in.

And then there was Hunter valentine (a.k.a. Kiyomi + 2/3 lesbians). As they walked onto the stage, screams of epic proportions were raised to the point that I could almost have been at a Take That concert. It was certainly a coup for Candy bar to book Hunter valentine: the first lot of tickets sold out in half an hour.

Was Kiyomi’s girlfriend, Lauren, there? Yes she was, standing by the stage looking adoringly at Kiyomi. I actually felt like I was in The real L word for a brief time. Interestingly, as the band were tuning up, the shouts from the crowd were for Lauren rather than the band.

It was billed as an acoustic set although the only sign of this was the drummer, Laura Petracca’s, substitution of a plastic shaky egg for the drums. Laura provided occasional backing vocals but mostly she was just enjoying the crowd, striking exaggerated tongue-in-cheek poses for the cameras. Aimee Bessada, the lead guitarist, did not feature in The real L word, but was an excellent addition to the band. She looked like she could have been an extra in Almost Famous with her shaggy hair, leather trousers, and pattern shirt.

Kiyomi McCloskey from Hunter Valentine. Photo: Laura Cunliffe (www.lercdesigns.com)

But let’s be honest, Kiyomi is the star of the show, with her trademark annunciation and swagger. Kicking off with “Staten Island dream tour“, uber-fans sang along (to the point where they drowned out the band). We heard favourites such as “This bull rides tonight” and, after much pleading from the crowd, “The great Canadian love song“.

During the set, two significant things happened:

1)    A girl who was not wearing a bra danced a little too enthusiastically and I found myself witnessing a public display of nudity. Interestingly, when the girl realised what had happened, she proceeded to admire the offending tit in the mirror right next to her.

2)    A fight nearly broke out between an incredibly short girl and a much taller girl. Clearly the short girl was confident in her ability to handle herself.

The set was good, if a little predictable. I wanted to hear or see something that a recording simply couldn’t convey. True, their stage presence was a strong point, but musically I wanted something more, something unexpected, like a re-interpretation of a cover or a brilliant show of musicianship.

The question is whether Hunter Valentine can stand alone as a band, not just a lesbian band which had the enormous advantage of being given a platform on The Real L Word. But then again, personalities can never be entirely separated from the music; presumably One Direction fans are not fans solely on the basis of their music. It remains to be seen whether Hunter Valentine will make the transition from ‘gaymous’ to ‘famous’.

Visit www.lercdesigns.com for more of Laura Cunliffe’s photos.

 

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Hattie Lucas

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