I'm not gonna lie; it was a bit jarring at first to see Kate Nash strut onto The Observatory's stage last night in a tattered black dress, creepers, and long black hair with bleach blonde highlights. I was expecting a charming, quaint, redheaded girl to shyly sidle up to the microphone, and instead saw a woman who looked like Siouxsie Sioux if she had been part of the Riot Grrl movement. Though I must say, it was a good look for her.
Backed by an all-female band, the British chanteuse flexed her “Girl Power” muscle throughout her 90-minute performance, dedicating half of her set to her recently released and aptly titled third album, Girl Talk. She started her set slapping the bass to “Sister,” one of the many gritty, punk-influenced tracks off her new album. As she played, projections of sound waves wriggled on a screen behind her and onto the small screens of old television sets stacked onstage. She sipped on tea in between songs, allowing her vocal chords to loosen as she's still adjusting from her old, innocent songs to her new, angst-riddled tunes.
“This song is about shit friends!” she exclaimed before rolling into “Fri-end?”, but though her new sound, and image, seem darker, Nash showed her fans that she's still that endearing girl at heart. “I recorded Girl Talk in L.A.,” she said between songs, “so this feels like a homecoming show tonight. Must be why I'm so nervous!” If she really felt that way, she didn't show it. When she wasn't thrashing the bass or guitar, she was twirling around the stage, microphone in hand, often balancing on the edge of the stage, reaching out to her fans.
“This next song is a cover,” she announced after playing “3 AM,” “and it's by a band from L.A.!” That band was FIDLAR (not surprising given the fact her bass had the band's name written largely on its body), and the song was “Cocaine.” Only in Nash's world, the lyrics were “Girl Gang.” “I really thought they were saying 'girl gang,' and I even told the guys I really liked the song they wrote about girl gangs. They were confused, but I like it much better. Bitches are better than blow!” she proclaimed before making the L.A. punkers proud with a spot-on (except for the lyrics) rendition of their rowdy hit. She ended the set with “Under-Estimate The Girl,” the song she wrote and recorded in 24 hours last year that revealed her new grunge side. Fans scurried onstage while she and her band rocked out, and as the last few chords were strummed, the singer hopped into the crowd, allowing her fans' grasping hands to engulf her.
After a short intermission, Nash and her guitarist re-emerged to play one last tune: A stripped down version of “We Get On,” the quirky love song off her debut album, Made Of Bricks. And for those few minutes, the charming, quaint, redheaded girl shined through the heavy makeup and hair dye.
Critical Bias: I perceived Kate Nash as a Lily Allen wannabe and she proved me wrong.
The Crowd: Young girls, and lots of 'em…and one random old guy.
Overheard in the Crowd: Guy in audience: “I have a 10-inch dick!” Kate Nash: “Oh my Jesus!”
Random Notebook Dump: Haters gonna hate, but I think Kate Nash's feminist kick totally works for her.