Live review from Underground 107:
1. The Lie
2. Ino Uno
3. Killer Heels
5. Halfway In
7. Let it Burn
U107 has provided one of the most eclectic line-ups in recent memory and, as the final act sets up and line-checks to a synth-punk backing track, that seems likely to continue. Welcome to the stage Who Shot Holga: a girl-girl-boy trio featuring subtly punk stylings on guitar/vocals, diffident rock vibes on oversized bass and a stern leftie drummer perched on a largely right-handed kit.
“It’s our last gig so you better get fucking drunk!” yells frontgirl Tilly as WSH kick into The Lie, their high-energy opening number. Instantly reminiscent of Juliana Hatfield’s Blake Babies, but with significantly more power, hints of Le Tigre grrl punk quickly creep in – the sass without the politics – and there are even suggestions of the pop sensibilities of Veruca Salt – including the sex appeal but dropping the candy-coated self-consciousness. This is a great start deserving of a bigger crowd. The only weak link is the guitar tone. Crunchy to a fault, it’s been chosen for its raw punk sound a la Operation Ivy but lacks the bottom end to compete with the strong back line.
Ino Uno is classic 3-minute pop-rock, wry enough not to be saccharine. Drums are impeccable and bass is absolutely charming in every way. All that’s missing is a backing vocal which would add so much more texture. Marie’s Song survives the un-deux-trois-quatre count-in to deliver a classic nugget of lo-fi guitar pop, and I wish the sound at Backstage was better so I could make out more of the lyrics. The refrain “never wanna see your face again” evokes the Angels but the sound is too joyful and this could easily be Bidston Moss singing about their new ten-speed bike. I love it.
Curiosity is up next, and this one features on an Underground compilation. “So buy the fuckin’ CD,” barks Tilly. As with her previous command, disobeying doesn’t even cross my mind. This one brings a change of pace, with thumping kick drum shifting up to toms as the group sets up a mesmerising mid-tempo grind. It’s a significant change and showcases a much bigger dynamic range from all three players. As the vocals hit a high point, my friend leans over wide-eyed and remarks “it’s gotten really sexual”.
That isn’t quite maintained for Half Way In, where the guitar tone flakes out again, but the band is clearly hitting their stride, especially the drums which are now huge, and there’s some wailing that would win Wayne Campbell’s heart. F-Song smells like Green Day off the bat before returning to the favoured 90s sound with undertones of Belly, but Tanya Donnelly would never pen something this unpretentious. Finally the backing vocals are cranked up and WSH fill the room with their sound as all three members revel in a song of back-seat shenanigans.
Let It Burn suggests Tilly has been listening to Tegan and Sara lately, but there’s nothing derivative here and her voice absolutely owns this number. It’s a winner and I wish it’d gone on for longer. But we’re almost done and the set is closed out with Clair, an uplifting pop-rock dash with Cantonese count-in (correcting the earlier faux pas), hand claps, nah-nah-nahs and woah-woah-woahs.
Who Shot Holga have talent, energy, passion and the songs to back it up. But while they’re individually confident and competent, they weren’t as well-oiled a unit as they might have been, and they didn’t always touch the level promised by their obvious potential. With members now dispersing around Asia, WSH may remain a question of what could have been. Start the petition for a reunion now.
– Brendan Clift
Live Review from CD 5 Launch Party B:
1. Killer Heels
2. Ino Uno
4. The F Song
5. Let it Burn
7. The Lie
Who Shot Holga? Offered the first decent band name of the evening and the blissful simplicity of drums, bass and guitar. Two things to take away: First, the power of a good drummer to hold everything together in small room with imperfect sound. In this case the drummer was a stand in, but I’d say “keep him.” Second, the capacity of a perfectly distorted guitar to evade the descriptive powers of an amateur reviewer. Let’s just say it was a perfect mix of crunchy and chewy, and a perfect match for the squeaky vocals.
With fast songs played fast, Who Shot Holga? generated the most energy of the evening and as such were the most satisfying band by far. My favourite was the song about f**king (I think that’s what she said), which ended much too quickly. How apt.
– Paul Mottram
Live Review from Girls with Guitars 4:
2. Got a Thing
3. Killer Heels
4. Ino UNO
5. What You Said
6. Let it Burn
7. The F Song
Next on was the “2/3 chick rock” of WSH – I don’t know what that means, but I do know that they’re wonderfully bluesy in a very unpretentious way, and their songs have riffs with massive bottom-ends (not often you get to say that about a band whose primary songwriter is female). It’s a result of singer/guitarist Tilly’s natural sound, which naturally tends towards the Chrissie Hynde style of upbeat blues-influenced American rock. Her lyrics, like her stage presence, are quirky and endearing, and she’s always fun to watch. Again, the mix was not kind to their sound at all, but the songs’ natural effervescence helped them counter that to a great degree. Bassist Marie is really solid, and drummer Martin’s style allows him to play some really cool fills while remaining in the proverbial pocket.
The drums were miked way too loud on More, and that nearly ruined the sharp, angular chords set against the archetypal 60s rock texture. After this was fixed, Got a Thing continued in the same vein but sounded much better. However, the song is composed in a manner that the chorus is sung on the very periphery of Tilly’s vocal range; this inherently means that there will be times that the execution will lack, and unfortunately that night was one of those times. Let it Burn had another heavy riff that sounded almost like a Troggs song, and it highlighted the side of Tilly’s vocal style that sounds like early-Blondie Debbie Harry. Hopefully this band will go far by building on these strengths, ‘cause I would love to see these guitar-laden girls for a long time.
– Shashwati Kala
Who Shot Holga是一隊很年輕的3人組合，包括主音兼結他手Tilly、低音結他手及和音的Marie及鼓手Martin，單張介紹他們演出的音樂是2/3 Chick Rock。她們的音樂節奏感很強，帶點玩樂及調皮的風格，這令人想起搖滾是屬於青春，而青春也是屬於搖滾的感覺，Who Shot Holga便給人有這樣的感覺。