Fluorescent pink paper with hand-scrawled quotes from Girli songs replaced the usual gig posters along the staircases of the O2 Islington. This DIY and upfront attitude set the scene for the evening.
Opening act, TAYLA Malcolm started off somewhat coyly but owned the stage by the end of her set. With seemingly boundless energy, her enthusiasm was infectious. It’s never easy to go on first but with the crowd bouncing off her combination of dance and RnB with a sweet- sweet singing voice, she got the party started early and screamed of marketability.
“Some girl literally pissed her pants at the Brighton show! What a time!”
Tayla was followed by something just a little bit different, urban pussy grabber (her own) Ashnikko, who was certainly not lacking in confidence.
“Like a multi-coloured breakfast cereal drenched in fair-trade almond milk”
Not afraid of being too graphic, the information about her food poisoning was perhaps too much information for us to digest and fearful of being covered in Ashnikko scat, distance was kept with a longer lens (it’s just not my bag). Her constant refrain of ‘eat my pussy like lunch’ was wasted on me as I’d been snacking before the show. It may well have been considered a bit crude for some of the dads who had accompanied their underage daughters, for which she did apologise. At least her oral sex references were based around consent whereas the same cannot be said of certain male artists. This was all about danceable in-your-face take-me-or-leave-me empowerment, which, ahem, went down a storm.
Catching up with Ashnikko, we asked how her first tour was rolling.
“I’m having a fucking ball. Some girl literally pissed her pants at the Brighton show! What a time! I’m losing my voice but I’m loving meeting all the sweet baby fans, they’re so cute it makes my heart melt like a chocolate bar I forgot in the back pocket of my jeans. I’ve also eaten so many vegan sausage rolls from Greggs I’m disgusted with myself. TOOOOOUUURRRRR.”
Headline pink haired GIRLI brought a combination of day-glow joy and further female empowerment to the predominantly teenage audience. With language just as colourful as her appearance, this was a two-finger salute to stereotypes, condescension, annoying parents and body shaming. With repeated hook lines and 1980s style keyboards and beats, her melodies were instantly simplistically catchy and lent themselves to be easily replicated in bedrooms or sampled as ringtones.
The strength of Girli’s songwriting lies in the self-contained story captured in each three minutes of pop. Coming across as blog entries, conversations with friends, letters to problem pages or just streams of consciousness, each set of lyrics had its own narrative account of a particular subject set in the context of social media, boy problems and dealing with haters.
Ultimately all three performers gave us their unique take on feminism for the millennial generation – accepting your own issues, supporting each other, having fun and being just as messy as the boys.
Photos: copyright Carl Byron Batson (not to be reproduced without express prior written consent)