She Drew the Gun @ Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh, 23 Feb
She Drew the Gun are out to change things, and their music goes some way to expressing revolutionist thoughts through intelligent politics and a pure punk ideology
Louisa Roach is a protest singer. She’s also a darkly psych popper, a Motown-adjacent crooner, a queer feminist voice and a spoken word performer. Her ability to command each of these masks and weave every guise through her fresh, lyrically opulent songs is exciting and impressive. She Drew the Gun’s two albums, Memories of Another Future and Revolution of Mind run the gamut of pure love ballads, 60s-inspired bops and politically-charged poetry. There’s the sense that Roach has seen a lot, done a lot and wants to spread awareness.
Opening track Resister sets the tone: tonight, it’s all about getting the word out. Roach’s spoken word is a constantly tumbling verse, words nearly tripping over each other in order to be heard. "I feel like we’re gonna need lightsabers soon," she says in a brief downtime between tracks. "The dark star is growing."
Live, She Drew the Gun are as frenetic and frantic as the group’s ethos suggests – the band pull out crunchy guitar licks and heartbeat-style drums to supplement Roach’s energy. They’re a symbiotic force. In Poem, a seething deconstruction of modern day society, they know when to hang back with simple swelling organ accompaniment and when to kick off. All together, they’re masters at building an atmosphere.
Between Stars is another highlight: a blend of sweet singing and spoken word. It’s a song of optimism, reminiscent of Mr Rogers’ advice to kids: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'" Roach’s insistence to look for 'good hearts' in the midst of a set where she rails against the world at large is a much-needed glimpse of hope.
Ending the gig with No Hole in My Head gets the crowd actually bouncing. The band’s punk cover of Malvina Reynolds’ 1965 folk song – with its lyrics lamenting 'Everybody thinks my head's full of nothin' / Wants to put his special stuff in / Fill the space with candy wrappers / Keep out sex and revolution' shows just how little has changed in 50 years. She Drew the Gun are out to change this, and their music goes some way to expressing revolutionist thoughts through intelligent politics and a pure punk ideology.