Glasswerks Hallowe'en Party - LONDON 229 - 31st October 2007
There are plenty of outrageous outfits on show tonight, as you would well expect from a Halloween party headlined by psycho-billy specialists 80s Matchbox - and it seems The Dirty's lead singer has (quite definitely not on purpose) come as Mick Jagger, and I tell you what, it's a bloody good outfit. And impression. With pouting lips and a pretty spot on Jagger pose and hand claps, he shams his way through the rockrivalist's 20 minutes set. Tunes are a pretty standard stab at recreating some 70s garage rock, but not much more exciting than that - with the occasional punchy rhythm section, and Stooges style scratchy guitars there's just about enough to get heads nodding.
A hopskipandjump over to tonight’s second room to have a spy of London punk/blues three-piece Gin Palace tells a much more interesting story. Wonderfully slurred vocals are threateningly blasted at the tiny audience by singer Meaghan Wilkie in between occasional bursts on her megaphone over some explosive guitars from punk rockabilly giant Jon Free. There is an endearing sloppiness to the freefall rock’n’roll of the tunes on offer, with crashing drums, and rhythmically thumping verses that in places sound like they are fraying at the edges, but somehow retains a rock-solid backbone. Wilkie discards the sweet & innocent wig she has donned as her Halloween outfit, and ups the onstage madness as Free wields his mightily distorted blues axe furiously throughout a whirlwind of a blues/rock set that has a lucky few tapping toes emphatically.
by Thomas Gulseven gigwise.com
GARAGE ROCK FESTIVAL - DENMARK, GUTTER ISLAND - 25th August 2006
”Beauty is in the eye of the beerholder”, says Kinky Friedman, if that's the case then the 4th Gutter Island garagerock festival was the prettiest. Not only did we cheat the rain gods, but according to the bars they sold twice as many brews as last time...
...It was midnight as I staggered back to the big tent to see the only English band on bill, Gin Palace. They differed a bit from the rest, not only in appearance; two huge hardrocking guys on guitar & drums and one gal in a cute polkadotted dress looking like she was going to a surreal 50s prom with Audrey Hepburn, but also musically; edgy swamp blues punk fronted by the girl's screeching but very unique voice. I fuckin' loved it!
Words by Jens Kofoed-Pihl LOW-CUT MAGAZINE
BANDORAMA - READING, RISING SUN ARTS CENTRE - 18th February 2006
It's just like coming home, and your mum's tidied your bedroom. The Newly refurbished Rising Sun arts centre now boasts proper floors, heating, flat wals with paint on - everything you would expect from a proper, grown-up venue, but with all it's charming randomness intact. How shall we celebrate? I know, let's smash the place apart...
Described to me as the 'Mighty' Gin Palace, they looked like they wouldn't hurt a fly. Then they kicked in... and were relentless! Trashy, punky, dirty, add almost any other adjective here, as long as it kicks your arse. Pixie-like singer Meaghan, a backdoor demon in a frilly dress, seduced, beckoned, and jollied us along by turns, but always with this understanding - she was in charge. The wall of sound is spiky and dangerous, but you would follow her into it like a lamb to the slaughter if she told you to. And as if all this isn't enough, the woman can dance like a dervish while wearing 6-inch stilettos - you can't say fairer than that.
ARTFUL - CAMDEN BARFLY - 25th October 2005
These guys certainly aren't wasting time, it's like they were born to be on stage - singer/screamer Meaghan Wilkie smiles wickedly as the three of them feed us meaty slabs of their punchy rockabilly sounds, in small potent doses. Tonight's well-balanced, perfectly-formed set switches between heart-racing sped-up songs, and swaggering, leering hoary beasts of songs.
Meaghan's voice rises to screeching roars and back down to a growl, as she sings with the kind of spellbinding authority you might compare to Karen O or Juliette and the Licks, with a touch of PJ Harvey. She twirls her hands around and flings out the skirt of her long red dress, coquettishly charming, yet complete hardcore rock chick. Leaning in, she holds us with a steady stare of total confidence.
Most of their songs are short, sharp and satisfyingly punchy, snapping off perfectly - leaving us impressed and wanting more. Their sound is raw energy, steaming up the stage. A snarling, alcohol and adrenaline-fuelled wall of sound, stripped down to the pure elements of blues, rock and punk turned up as loud as you can handle it. Early in the set, 'Kicking On' blows the roof off - drummer Stuart Bell keeps his head down and thrashes his kit like his life depends on it. In the other corner, the towering figure of Jon Free throws a few telepathic glances at Meaghan, leeping track of just where this beast is going. On the slower songs his grinding guitar riffs complement thudding drum intros providing a solid backing for her vocals.
"I'm so tipsy I can't feel my leg anymore" she confesses at one point, later on playfully threatening to hit Stuart on the head with his own drumstick. Yeah, they're having a good time. The end seems to come too soon - crashing drums rip through the atmosphere, then a dramatic pause, then they're in! Meaghan screams into the mic 'Low-Down-Son-Of-A-Bitch!!', but we've already been won over. As the saying goes, always leave them wanting more.
Dedee W - ARTROCKER
Not The Same Old Blues Crap - HASTINGS, BRASS MONKEY - 23rd July 2005
Hastings, like a lot of medium-sized coastal towns, has not been exactly well known in recent years for it's flourishing music scene, so perhaps it's not surprising to learn that there are no local bands are playing tonight.
First up is Le Fretzo Getso, perhaps better known as Tony Moon who used to be in the Killer Bees. The performance may be neccessarily static but the music is definitely not and reminds me of 'Orange'-era Jon Spencer Blues Explosion or The Kills as they both use and abuse their drum machines in similar ways.
Brighton's blues punk rockers Mudlow are up next, and a strong blues flavour runs though their set (as there does through every band playing tonight, which perhaps isn't too surprising considering that it's a "˜Not the same old blues crap" night!). Mudlow's sometimes shuffling drums, whiskey-soaked and cigarette-stained vocals are complimented by sleazy Harmonica and Saxophone. I can half imagine them playing in the corner of some smoke filled Mississippi bar in some future Tarantino movie.
Which brings us on to headliners Gin Palace. It's safe to say that most people here tonight haven't ever seen them before, as most people here hadn't even heard of them before tonight's show. It's therefore quite heartening to see how the crowd reacts to them, as nearly all the people here seem to be actively enjoying their set and unafraid of losing 'cool points' by dancing along and showing that they're having a good time. The pounding drums laid down by Stuart Bell, raucous garage-tinged punk guitar supplied by Jon Free, who seems like a giant on stage, and the snarling vocals of Meaghan Wilkie are lapped up by the audience, and songs like "˜Kicking on" and "Cool like an axe" seem to stop almost as soon as they begin, with the set seeming to fly by... but it has to end at some point and when it does Gin Palace leave the stage with the audience left the way they should be; staring back at the empty stage desperately wanting more.
By Nathan Westley ARTROCKER
Louder Than Bombs - WAKEFIELD, ESCOBAR - 20th June 2005
Gin Palace are the latest band to travel to the humble city of Wakefield and fill the black hole that is (or was) the existence of a music scene in a town that is so indebted to its nearby big brother Leeds. They come kicking and screaming, proving that they are much more than merely the English Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Their setup and style, both musical and in terms of image, is not a million miles away from their New York peers. They swagger and sneer their way through a set immersed in the debauched drunken behaviour that their band name suggests. A darker cousin they might be, but Gin Palace are much more than mere copyists.
The thick musical backbone is provided by guitarist Jon Free and Stuart Bell on self-proclaimed ‘minimal drum kit’. The stage, however, belongs to singer Meaghan Wilkie, who is best described as a dirty blues cherub. Delighting the crowd with her raucous vocal and wowing them with her engaging glances around the room. Best of all, you can tell that she’s loving every minute of it. From the opening note to the penultimate song’s cry of ‘where are my shoes?’ and beyond; Wilkie has the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand.
The band’s website is filled with various literary musings regarding drink. I thought I would leave you with one that summarises tonight’s proceedings, it reads; ‘Satan’s palace--- the gin palace’.
Chris Cooper ARTROCKER
LONDON, MEAN FIDDLER - 15th May 2005
Appearances can be very deceiving, nothing hammered this home more than when The Gin Palace took to the stage...
Fronted by the demure figure of Meaghan Wilkie, flanked by a very friendly-looking Jon Free on guitar & an almost shy-looking Stuart Bell on drums. After a very pleasant introduction by Meaghan all hell broke loose !!
Stuart mutated into some kind of drum demon or other, a now not-so-friendly looking Jon became a very large guitar bastard fully capable of hammering his message home. Meaghan (after a few sips of "water") transformed into a very loud, evil little sister, with nice shoes & what I can only describe as a certain look in her eye.
The vicious little assaults that they call songs were relentlessly hurled at the crowd who seemed to appreciate the abuse & reacted accordingly. I've got the bruises to prove it !!
Well delivered Punk/Rock/Blues/etc/etc, although I wouldn't like to completely pigeon-hole them, they don't fit snuggly into any predefined category of music - basically, if your music has got to hurt, then go and see The Gin Palace, they will sort you out nicely... only, leave your mum at home - Meaghan just might batter her with her own shoes. Seriously!!
Mark Blount The Pariah
NOTTINGHAM, RESCUE ROOMS - 11th February 2005
Apologies dear readers for not being able to bring you a report on The Kills. Due to unforseen circumstances etc.... but we did get to see support act GIN PALACE. And bloody glad too. This three piece we'll break down for you one by one.
Fronted by a sweet, frock wearing, lady by the name of Meaghan. But don't be fooled, this is a woman who likes a drink, a fag, and between songs summonds 'drink tech' to refill her glass. Backed up by Stuart pounding the living daylights outta the kit, and guitarist Jon, it's clear to one and all this is a band on the edge of a bright future. Part Yeah Yeah Yeah's (is the obvious comparison when Karen O comes to mind) and the bluesy riffs of White Stripes. But hailing from London and a big fucking hurrah! to that. It's loud, it's fun, it's what rock n roll should be and often isn't. Forget the clean living Brit-nominated media darlings for a day or two. And for fuck's sake who cares about the now tabloid fodder of overhyped LibertineShambles. Raise a glass to the Gin Palace and pour yourself another.
mnpaj Plus One Magazine
i-D MAGAZINE night - London, 93 Feet East - 2nd February 2005
The dreams of youth; inability countered by enthusiasm; the joy of doing your own thing regardless of what everyone else thinks: such is the essence of rock 'n' roll. And all of which sum up tonight's first band Comanechi... Sheer ace-ness...
Similarly in their own private idea-hole are Gin Palace, a band who threaten to tip the balance of the stage sending them flying into the Vibe Bar's garden: on one side we have a giant with a quiff playing a machine-gun barrage of rockabilly, on the other a pixie in a party dress prancing around like it's Christmas day. In truth, she's a tad stage school, but we can't help but adore her when she spits "yeah, fuck you" at some half-hearted heckler.
But the presence of Bobby Gillespie and Kate Moss, truly harbingers of the death of rock 'n' roll, suggests this is where such youthful misadventure must end. And on the evidence of RTX, not only is rock 'n' roll dead but it would seem that it's fetid corpse (in the shape of Jennifer Herrema) has been exhumed by three inbred truckers who are using animatronics to make it smoke fags and suck its own hair...
Matt Carmell ARTROCKER
LEEDS, COCKPIT - 1st February 2005
The Gin Palace are quite possibly the strangest looking band I have ever seen. Vocalist, Meaghan Wilkie, with her petite, pixie-like features, stood onstage like a tiny girl, playing dress-up. Displaying a huge smile, she swished her wedding-style dress and twirled like a ballerina. In between songs she childishly banged the cymbals of the drums and giggled nervously. Yet whilst on some levels displaying such child-like innocence it wasn't long before a slightly evil, possessed, glint in her eye became visible. Watching her is fascinating; more of a Bjork character than the next Karen O, but it is impossible not to notice that she is actually a bit of a mentalist. On the other side of the stage stood guitarist Jon Free, looking absolutely huge, towering over Meaghan like a threatening giant getting ready to gobble her up. Unable to take his eyes off her, he stared intensely as she pranced around the stage. Though, as the set progressed this became an uncomfortable scenario to watch, seeming, well, a little perverted really.
Rachel Glover LeedsMusicScene
BRIGHTON, CONCORDE 2 - 31st January 2005
...Live, The Kills are fearless, gritty, feral. But somehow you get the nagging feeling it’s the same show that Oxford saw last night and Leeds will see tomorrow - not a crime, not uncommon, and makes me anticipate second album ‘No Wow’ no less. It’s just hard to explain how they can seem at once so raw and yet slightly unspontaneous - but god, how do you do ‘authentic’ these days?
I dunno, but support Gin Palace do. It’s a more Cramps-like rock ‘n’ roll this time. Singer Meaghan Wilkie’s realised that blondes have more fun but the truly bad girls are brunette all the way. She banters with, berates and cajoles the crowd; grinning, offers a heckler up on stage for a scrap. While Jon and Stuart thrash away behind, Meaghan hollers at the crowd, her booming voice at odds with the cute 50s dress she wears so well. ‘It’s Audrey Hepburn gone bad,’ cries the woman next to me. Yeah. It’s only rock 'n' roll - but I like it.
words and photos by Bec Chalkley RealBrighton
Oh my stars, what a rocking night at the Concorde again! They seem to have the best gigs in town sewn up at the moment and I intend on seeing them all...
Tonight’s support act, Gin Palace, have just released their first album ‘Kicking On’ with Artrocker Records. This stonkingly good London three piece from Stoke Newington are not here to sing us lullabies or make us feel secure. Lead singer Meaghan Wilkie, isn’t wearing a wonderful green floral fifties number because she is about to bring us a nice cup of tea and some cake. No, far from it, she is more likely to supply 20 Marlboros and a large bottle of Gordon’s, then kick you and tell you to get on with it. Listening to Gin Palace is not an easy ride, but it sure is fun. It’s full on, no holds barred bluesy punk rock – my favourite. Wilkie’s venomous lyrics about drunken violent debauchery and her incredibly provocative stage presence really make this act special. Their confrontational approach worked a treat on an already wildly excited crowd and was the perfect fluffer for tonight’s headline act, The Kills.
Erin Prior Supersweet
CLUB MOTHERFUCKER - LONDON GARAGE - 8th January 2005
Club Motherfucker is run by grrrls and promotes grrrl bands. It is held in various venues but tonight it's Upstairs at The Garage. It is not a big place, but inside it is warm and friendly (and that's why we like it, isn't it?)
The audience was ready to be shouted at or pointed at by Meaghan Wilkie's band. Gin Palace got on stage and all at once it became full of drunkeness and ferocity. Why, you ask yourselves? Well the lady singer isn't tall (possibly a little bit less than 1.5 m), so you wouldn't expect it from her, but she can howl in everyone's face. And while she was twirling and agitating, the background was nearly on fire. Jon Free played his bluesy garage riffs with a solid and strong arm, as sharp as a razor blade. Stuart Bell was in charge with the drums. He's got no hi hats because he always breaks them. You'd guess so anyway because you can hear that he hits them really hard. And all these 3 different personalities go together well, to bring us into their world of torment and decadence. Think about the White Stripes being taken hostages and forced to drink as many bottles of gin as they can, tied together with barbed wire and you're nearly there. Gin Palace is a must-see and a must-buy. Go and check out their website right now to get their latest sounds, don't forget to order their LP 'Kicking on' or next time they see you, they'll kick you in the stomach!!!
Riotmiloo Babes In Boyland
BONFIRE NIGHT- LONDON, BUFFALO BAR - 5th November 2004
It's Bonfire Night, but can we be arsed to waste our night craning our necks to watch fireworks in the freezing cold? Can we buggery. I'm off to watch the fabulous Gin Palace, in a nice warm bar... and excuse the terrible cliche, but the performance is explosive enough for me thanks very much.
I've seen Gin Palace play the Garage a couple of times at Vortex Of Now shows but the larger venue is not the best setting for their low-down and dirty scuzz rock 'n' roll. Frankly slightly scary singer Meaghan's voice is always lost under the feedback. But in the intimate Buffalo Bar the music sounds much warmer, even more exciting and I can hear Meaghan's venomous lyrics much better. The crowd is loving it too, and I can't count the number of times my feet have been stamped on by the stiletto-clad girl in front of me - but it's been worth it. The Gin Palace are the perfect Friday night guilt-free fun band... and way more exciting than a roman candle.
Katie Hare ARTROCKER
LONDON, THE GARAGE - 30th October 2004
There are those, such as Iggy Pop, who choose to run naked around the stage and stand on top of the outstretched arms of the audience while being covered in peanut butter, with the occasional urination on said audience if he so feels like it. There are those, such as Gorillaz, who choose to play behind a screen at gigs so that the audience can't see them at all. There is those, such as GG Allin, who attacked members of the audience and, if legend is to be believed, shot himself dead onstage. And then there is Bob Log III, resplendent onstage with a space helmet covering his face and dressed entirely in a blue polyester jumpsuit.
Described in some quarters as “psycho-delta blues”, the man has just finished touring with Franz Ferdinand and the Kills across the UK. Hailing from the Wild West of Tucson, Arizona, Bob the III is here to show the audience he means business with a headline date.
But first we have Comanechi, a duo featuring Akiko on drums and vocals and Simon on guitar (no bass). On Loose Lips Sink Ships records, and out airing their 6-track EP 'One Pervert Knows Another', their sound thunders across as a sludgy, Sabbath-like version of Christina Martinez-vocal Pussy Galore but with shrieking Japanese vocals struggling to be audible over the overdriven, dirgy-like guitar. Frankly, they give me a headache. Their presence, together with the Gin Palace, would explain the presence of members of promoters Artrocker in the audience, who have put on all three acts tonight in the past at their weekly night at the Buffalo Bar round the corner from the Garage. Like Comanechi, the Palace (I suppose we must) play intensely loud, stripped-down raw blues driven garage rock with no bass (what is it about every garage rock band at the moment not having a bass player? Or, if you're The Dirtbombs, having two bassists and two drummers.)
The difference between Comanechi and the Gin Palace is the presence of Meaghan Wilkie, a livewire frontwoman all of 5 foot but with a decidedly large set of tonsils, who commands the audience's attention to the point where people slowly edge more and more towards the stage as the band engage in some BASTARD ROCK. Featuring Jon Free, a former member of London sleazy-garage-noise-blues-in-suits types Penthouse on guitar, they whip up a serious storm, with the drummer's kit seemingly comprised solely of a bass drum, a snare, and cymbals, the latter of which he hits pretty much constantly. So not much prog rock here, then. Meanwhile, Free's guitar revs like a motorbike down the motorway as Wilkie twirls in her Cinderella dress and spits out lines like “beer-swilling, tequila-drinking, knicker-sniffing, stripper-licking low down SON OF A BITCH!!!” (from the immortal 'Things I Used To Love About You') at the audience while grabbing someone's pint from the front row. One song simply mentions the word “drinking” a lot. Cool.
Bob Log III also likes drinking a lot, as he reminds us numerous times during his set from behind his ludicrous helmet. Despite only being a one man band, the genius of Bob Log III live is in the delivery. Putting any religious preachers to shame, this man would make a great orator. Clearly the audience at the Garage has attracted some devoted fans, enough that two women venture to sit on his knee during one song (that if I'm not mistaken is called 'Clap Your Tits', which he invites people of both sexes in the audience to do) while he plays bottle-neck blues and engages with the audience via a telephone transmitter in his helmet that's connected to the venue PA. The effect is like having a spaceman from Mars, or the alien in 50's sci-fi films like 'The Day The Earth Stood Still', personally delivering a speech to the audience that extols the fun of drinking, while tossing off such songs as 'Wag Your Tail Like a Dog in the Back of a Truck', 'Boob Scotch', and 'Land of a Thousand Swirling Asses'- not that any lyrics can actually be made out in the crackle of the transmission.
His guitar playing is extraordinary, as he simultaneously coaxes some spellbinding slide work, utilises a drum machine, and plays a bass drum all at once (again, there's no bass guitar). Somehow he manages to not only do all this but keep up his playing with the frenetic rhythms emanating from the machine inconspicuously located near the back of the stage. That he allegedly lost a hand in a childhood boating accident and now has a “monkey paw” instead, is testament to the man's genius. And all the while looking austere with his helmet emotionlessly regarding the audience.
How long he will manage to keep this up is a matter of debate, and the shtick does begin to wear out as the set draws to a close. But his raw talent in undeniable, and he went down a storm during the aforementioned tour with Franz Ferdinand. Despite the inevitable similarity in nature between most of the songs, there was certainly no sign of him running out of steam on this date, neither of the audience ever becoming bored (I haven't been to a gig with such audience devotion as this for quite a while). To experience the true rampaging madness of Bob Log III, you truly have to see him live in all his surreal glory. And without a single bass guitar in sight.
JOYFEST - HACKNEY, THE OCEAN - 14th August 2004
In the downstairs venue it is extremely sparsely attended for The Gin Palace, as most folk are still hobnobbing with Special Needs upstairs. This is a real shame because the Gin Palace are in devastating form this evening and chanteuse Meaghan Wilkie has got the Devil in her, twirling like a ballerina and smiling broadly, but with a glint in her eye that intimates that she would like to eviscerate everybody in the room.
Fantastic stuff, and probably the funniest moment of the day when, after being halted in mid act by one of the organisers, it appears that there is a real possibility that the demurely diminutive singer will use the unfortunate ’s testicles for earrings. Jon Free and Stuart Bell just get on with business as usual, but the tension crackles around the room like an electric current.
Gin Palace make an amazing noise given the size of the venue and the crowd. It sounds like a vicious Birthday Party or P J Harvey turned very mean. Meaghan looks stunning in a pretty party dress, and even does little pirouettes, but inside she’s a demon, screaming and twirling and smiling daintily before she rips out your uncommitted heart. Here are three people with more energy than Hurricane Charlie.
Ged M SoundsXP
Downstairs Gin Palace continue to raise the bar and add a touch of class to the mid-point of the evening. Fronted by the singular, strutting Meaghan Wilkie, their angular rock is a driving example that punk can and does exist outside The Libertines' sphere of influence. And how fresh it is to see a band that is confident in its individuality without slipping into bloated arrogance.
Ross Bennett Drowned In Sound
BRIGHTON, PO NA NA’S
- 7th July 2004
It’s with the Gin Palace that our hearts and hopes lie.
ET is quite wrong in his constant quipping that if the Gin Palace ever make a record to live up to the towering inferno of their live shows then the world will be sorry.
Gin Palace live are a world away from the skin-tearing enigma of their singles and EPs. They’re much…tamer. Well, no, not tamer exactly. But definitely, definitely CUTER. Aw, man, check Meaghan out – three foot nothing of little girl curtsies and tea (or vodka) sipping politeness.
That’s in between songs.
There are also the bits during the songs when momentarily the stage becomes possessed by a Tasmanian Devil in a bridesmaid dress, by a miniature hurricane flanked by a roaring, spitting firewall of guitar and studied rubble-cracking drums.
Jesus, they’re louder than death. They’re louder than Motörhead. They’re making Greg Neale dance the fucking twist like his crotch is on fire. They must be lacing that vodka with every kind of nastiness to make the ample sugar in their systems ignite like this. The old songs are louder, faster, LOUDER – practicallyfuckingunlistenable. The new songs go scooooorrrrcHACHACHA all over your face. Mmmm.
Burn me, you beautiful fuckers. Spit-roast me with flame!
David McNamee Plan
BUFFALO BAR - 20th January 2004
The Gin Palace are an unusual mixture of minxish 6th form attitude, earnest blues endeavour, world-weary debauchery, and mischevous filth in a posh frock and plummy accent. Guitarist Jon Free gets his head down and studiously thrashes the hell out of his geetar. Punctuated by Stuart Bell's primeval drumming, this not-so-unusual scene is set for singer Meaghan Wilkie to take us places that we may not have been.
It is in the juxtaposition of Wilkie's voice and delivery with what is a very traditional, fashionable (though still thrilling) musical backdrop that makes The Gin Palace stand out. She delights in teasing members of the audience with undertones of sexy violence, taking us to some punk rock Brideshead Revisited/Virgin and The Gipsy world before snapping us out of that hypnotic trip with the sharp, knowing smile of the knowing and playful thespian.
Yeah, she's just kidding, but you wouldn't want to test her patience.
Peter Sottrel - Artrocker
'Artrockers Of The Year' - LONDON, THE GARAGE - 13th December 2003
The Gin Palace were next up and nothing my friends had told me could quite prepare me for the noise. I think they've definitely broken into the top three loudest, most brutal bands I've seen live which, considering they only have two instruments onstage, isn't bad going at all.
We've got a flailing bag of bones and hair at the back whipping up a percussive frenzy akin to early Butthole Surfers stuff (he easily sounds like he's two drummers at times). Up front, we've got a pixie-like girl who looks as though she's just been kicked out of a 60's girl band that was formed by Satan Himself for being too evil. She chain smokes, drinks gin and howls like Nick Cave with a pubic hair caught in his zipper. And drowning all this out, towering above the others in both height and volume, is the People's Drunk! Jon Free! Ex-Penthouse guitarist! And what the FUCK is he playing!? God only knows how, but he manages to mix skull-crushing swampy basslines with furious blues riffs and "solos" that sound almost like white noise - just using a single semi-acoustic guitar! It sounds like there's about three people up there with strings at times!
Through all the noise and ferocity of the stage performance, you get one point hammered into your brain very clearly indeed. The Gin Palace are an unashamed testament to VICE. The songs seem to primarily centre around drinking, screwing and killing. Few of them seem to last over two minutes. Even fewer of them bother with trivial stuff like a chorus or a catchy pop hook to sweeten the taste of the poison that's being spewed forth by the gallon. This is bad-ass shit we're dealing with and they make sure we know it. Believe me, there is nothing that your Auntie would like about this band. It's a filthy, sleazy noise that leaves you shaking with the adrenaline rush and deafened from it's sheer force. Which is to say, they're absolutely bloody brilliant. Must see again very soon.
The Rattler, Meltdown Magazine contributor
...Anyway, next up were the Gin Palace, the band that we'd actually come to see. They did not disappoint. The lead singer is a wee thing, but Hell, she managed to belt them out. And Jon Free: now there's a man who really knows where his tremolo arm is. I liked that, and I liked his axe-wielding madness. As a general rule I'm not sure about bands that don't have a bassist: that can end up sounding very thin if you're not careful, but the guitar here was strong enough for it never really to matter. And the Gin Palace have just the right amount of dirty blues raunch about them: enough to make them interesting, but never so much that it takes over entirely.
Like a good night out, they leave you slightly drunk, slightly smoky, and knowing you did one or two things you probably shouldn't have, but happy and fulfilled and with that knowledge of having lived a bit before you die. If I had a complaint it's that neither their songs nor their set were long enough.
Excerpted from Simon Trafford's LiveJournal review
NEW YORK CITY, SIN-E
- 27th October
- 27th October 2003
Monday night, pissing down with rain, the crew made their way down to Sin-E for Artrocker NY and what a night it was!!! Sure everyone was nearly dead from going out every night, all night for CMJ and sure it was raining cats and dogs. Let me tell you that didn’t stop the Hells, Red Card, The Gin Palace and 2 Tears from rockin’ their ever lovin’ souls out. All 4 bands blew away their previous shows as the music flowed and turned some of those non believers right around!!!
The Gin Palace, relegated to sipping bevies in the van stepped onto the stage turning it into a full scale experience with impish, vixen Meagan brandishing pink and white satin, angelic and devious, killing you with those eyes!! And so much power as she belted out “What the fuck is wrong with NY??!!!” every chance she could, begging for a cigarette, just one! Staggering and swaggering with Jon’s guitar roaring behind like a thunderstorm at a motorcycle convention, and drummer, Stuart’s hands bleeding by the end of the set. It’s what rock n roll dreams are made of!! It was nothing short of amazing.
Deb - Artrocker NY Correspondant
BETHNAL GREEN, 291 GALLERY
- 7th August 2003
BETHNAL GREEN, 291 GALLERY - 7th August 2003
Messed up urban blues, with added lady charm
Ever wondered what would happen if the YYYs had a truckload of Fall albums, a rockabilly stylist and some deportment lessons? You need wonder no longer. In the sweaty side-room of a Hackney church, right after a belly dancer and two men in Spandex have strutted their stuff/confused everyone, The Gin Palace slur onstage and immediately break into demented art-school blues
Meaghan Wilkie, in her perfect black and red attire, is a lady in the true sense; albeit one who sounds like she's been gargling glass and sucking Marlboro Reds for the past 20 years. She growls her way through the ramshackle set, every so often barking at the sweaty audience for not dancing enough, while chords are chucked out by guitarist Jon Free, a man who resembles a pissed-off Home Counties Josh Homme
It's like The White Stripes being beaten up by The Cramps - thrilling, compelling, very loud and utterly unmissable
Leonie Cooper - NME
BRIGHTON, FREE BUTT - 13th July 2003
On Sunday night, we took a chance, checked out London’s own Gin Palace at the Butt on the basis of one eye-catching full-page photo in the new issue of CTCL and Stevie Chick’s evocative description of a stiletto heel tap-tap-tap-tapping and… Man! We was not disappointed.
The return of arsequake, Camden ’89 style: lead singer dressed like Rita Hayworth in overcoat, and inebriated like Jon Slade but with a massive smile, several two-minute welters of sound, led by an ex-Penthouse guitarist, drummer going insane in the heat… We found ourselves unable to watch The Hells’ smorgasbord of garage time influences after, but we didn’t care. Man! Is this what London is like nowadays?!
We mailed our London pals after, saying “We wanna see The Gin Palace play London!!!!!” (with 500 exclamations after) and our London pals mailed back and said “dude, The Gin Palace play London like 4 times a day” – which, to our sore head, only indicates how jaded and wack London is, no disrespect to anyone. Just 'cos someone’s on yr doorstep exuding brilliance don’t make them any less special.
Everett True from CARELESS TALK COSTS LIVES's diary
We head back to catch The Gin Palace play. They’re good; I’m reminded of Black Box Recorder but a sweaty, rockabilly, garage version.
The singer Meaghan looks and speaks like a saucy schoolteacher, like she’d like to dress you in stockings and suspenders and make you read Chomsky whilst hitting you with a ruler and running her nails down a blackboard. I very much approve.
extract from Ben Shillabeer from The Playwrights' tour diary
BUFFALO BAR - 24th June 2003
Tuesday night at the Artrocker club and the influence of the White Stripes hangs in the air as two bands (Gin Palace and The Hells) line up to try and push the garage-blues thang further by throwing out the bass (I'm predicting that in 2004 all bands will consist entirely of bass players).
The Gin Palace feature awesome ex-Penthouse guitarist Jon Free unleashing an amped-up, swampy fuzz-a-billy barrage while drummer Stuart Bell pounds directly on your eardrums. Shouting scathing lyrics over the top of this is star Meaghan Wilkie, by turns prim and punk, like one of the Famous Five crazed by PMT. Sounding a bit like early (i.e. good, ie pre Patti Smith) PJ Harvey while singing, between songs she talks to her drummer like a schoolteacher and apologises for screaming "F*** You" into someone's face seconds earlier. The effect is like watching "What ever Happened to Baby Jane?" while trapped inside Link Wray's speaker cab. If she can put this much energy and anger into her performance in a tiny basement then think how wonderfully bonkers she'd be given the sort of attention lavished on Karen O. This alone is reason enough to buy fifty copies each of their forthcoming EP. Tell your friends.
A New Venue is Born - THE EYE - 14th June 2003
The Eye opened with a bang on the weekend of Stoke Newington's 2nd Fringe Fest, though the paint had barely dried. Broken-in proper, with band-venue smells and grit starting invisibly to coat the newly-painted walls and purchased furniture. Good times were had. Memories created. Drinks were spilled. When the first glass broke it became official.
Bands brought the stage to life. The Gin Palace rattled any complacency that existed before they went on and made the crowd stand up and take notice. Anybody who's seen Meaghan before wouldn't be surprised. Short on height but tall on stature she commands the stage and makes it her own. There's no doubt who's in charge and you wouldn't want to have it any other way. Jon's fierce guitar work sounds like it couldn't possibly emanate from a single guitar. His towering presence belies the fact that he channels his internal noise passion and blues angst through his axe the perfect compliment to the frontwoman of the three piece. Stuart has the devil inside although you wouldn't know it until seeing him pound the skins like they took his girlfriend.
Mellish - Artrocker
BUFFALO BAR - 26th April 2003
Hammering, hammering, hammering. Meaghan Wilkie's feet, clad in wanton Fuck-You shoes tipped with metal and sharpened for kick-to-kill efficiency, just won't stop hammering the floor of the stage tonight, a whirlwind, a righteous clatter, and a lunge for just more noise. This is a riot, right here, her tiny lungs struggling to stir up enough din to be heard over the turbulent rumble of drums and a vicious guitar slide, her microphone patently turned too low, a struggle that won't be resolved by the show's climax. She's got the body of a dancer, not necessarily in terms of any choreographed grace or practiced moves, but in the way every fit of frustration, every lunging lash and contusive head-swing expresses eloquently most ineloquent and inelegant things.
There's something desperate, wild, happening here, and that explains the cold sweat, the hot flushes, and precious few intermediary points in their set... The Gin Palace aren't about falling apart, no suh. Though it's hard to pick out any of Meaghan's words in the sweaty crush of Jon Free's lacerating bottle-slide runs and drummer Stuart Bell's wild battering of his sparse kit, drowned out by gutteral groove, she still howls just above the deranged slither. She's four foot nothing, surely, but has the presence, the intimidating self-possession of some towering Amazonian, her feet ever hammering the floor, snatching the microphone and hollering, shouting, screaming. No words can be heard, but songtitles like 'You Want It' give the game away. The story's all in Meaghan's wordless hollers and stomps.
She swirls and struts to every molasses-drenched riff rumbling ever more savage and sin-sodden than Penthouse ever were, like her songs are as willing to slip a switchblade 'tween your ribs as take you dancing. They stomp the mirror-watching KILLS into the ground, grubbier and less tutored, more unhinged. Later we'd struggle to hum a riff or recall a lyric, but that blinding dervish, the grit and severity of the riffs remained. Alone, that's not enough yet, but it's certainly a great start.
Stevie Chick CARELESS TALK COSTS LIVES
BUFFALO BAR - 4th March 2003
Lately I’ve been yearning for some good honest British rock ‘n’ roll to slap me in the face rather than the stream of Americanised soulless crap that’s hitting our clubs at the moment. As soon as one original band evolves another twenty or so copy. All this being driven by the likes of NME which is a sad, pitiful state of affairs that cannot be tolerated for much longer. Praise indeed again, to the NME for perpetuating so much garbage of late. Young people are increasingly being brought up in a digital world. So the reinvention of the raw sound as an opposite, is an attraction. Tonight's show puts this theory into practice at the Artrocker night in the Buffalo Bar, London.
The Gin Palace from Hackney are rather nice people, and have only been gigging as a unit since February this year. Admittedly very much in the fold of The Kills with a touch of P.J. Harvey (bear with me), they have an awesome strength in their sound. Guitar, drums, and a female vocalist with some fine red puckered lips, this three piece gave us a stream of short tunes interrupted only by quips from the singer during the breaks. A nice track called ‘Fragment’ came at the end of a sweaty Cramps style set as little Miss Prissy strolled off the stage to muchos applause and smiles. A worthy rockin’ group with a sound stripped down to guttural power and poise and driven quickly by Jon Free the guitarist. It would be criminal to miss their gigs.
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