I’m not going to lie to you; hardcore alternative rock gigs are not my scene. I’d much prefer to stay home, drink a bottle of red wine and watch reruns of Grey’s Anatomy in my fat pants, thank you very much. But duty called last Friday, so I swapped the fat pants for a pair of jeans and dragged my ass to the 100 Club in Central London.
The sign is barely visible from Oxford Street and the décor hasn’t changed much since the 1970s when the Sex Pistols and The Clash performed here – low ceilings, blood red walls, framed photos of all the legends that took the stage over the years. The crowd is about as eclectic as Katy Perry’s wardrobe and the opening bands make me long for a Zen temple in some remote Himalayan village. Still, I am prepared to set my preconceived notions aside, prick up my ears and pay attention. After all, you can’t say you love music and then dissect genres and pick at them the way a fussy child pushes his broccoli to the side of his plate. My role is to be open-minded. Perhaps hardcore alternative rock is precisely what is lacking from my musical diet?
Shortly after 10pm, gin and tonic drained, eyes straining to stay open, The Franklys come on stage, and they’re barely in position before Nicole Pinto starts banging on her red drums. Suddenly the guitar comes screaming out of the speakers and the singer belts out Don’t let him get to you and I am thrown back against the wall, senses bewildered, as the crowd becomes a sea of bobbing heads. We’ve hardly had a chance to catch our breath before they dive into Another Alex, a track about infatuation gone bad, with catchy vintage-esque guitar riffs. And by the time After The Light begins with a suggestive cha-cha-cha on the cymbals, it’s clear the girls have won over the room.
The Franklys are a four-piece alternative rock band with cross-cultural influences, comprised of a very Joan Jett’ish Jennifer Ahlkvist, guitarist Fanny Broberg, also from Sweden, English bass player Zoe Biggs and New York drummer Nicole Pinto, who looks like she stepped out of a retro diner to come rock out for the night. If 50s rock-n-roll met 70’s punk and had a love child, it would be The Franklys. An in-your-face hyperactive skateboarding kid with black stars tattooed to her chest.
These girls produce the kind of songs that make you want to say fuck this. It’s The Strokes meets Japanese punk. They are the band you go see when your boyfriend just pissed you off and you need to blow off some steam — the equivalent of smashing dishes on the floor or punching a hole in the wall, but with a certain kind of grace.
The lyrics could very well have been plucked from some anxious teenager’s diary, whose current crush doesn’t even know she exists. But you don’t really need lyrics when the sheer power of Ahlkvist’s voice relates all the angst that words often can’t.
The set was short and left me wanting for more. Before I knew it, the girls were jumping off stage and heading to the after party. I took the bus home, with a strange urge to buy fishnet stockings and wear heavy black eyeliner, feeling like I’d been given a royal ass kicking — a pep talk with an edge. It turns out The Franklys were precisely what I needed last Friday, after all.
16th March – Barfly, Camden
30th March – Barfly, Camden
13th April – Star of Kings, Kings Cross