The Sunflower Lounge
Review by SdM
London based Indian Queens are sisters Jennifer (guitar/vocals) and Katherine (bass/backing vocals). Lifelong chum Mat plays the drums and sings backing vocals too. In-jokes and comic asides throughout the show give a measure of the friendship and camaraderie between all three members.
The stage is saturated in dry-ice (is it still called that?) turned pink by the stage lights. A growl of guitar distortion announces the opening number. ‘I Get No Rest’ and ‘You When I Close My Eyes’ haunt with an impeccable harmony vocal over themes bathed in desolation and veiled anger. Dark moody guitar chords, clever bass noodling and solid drums combine into a sound that crosses whole decades – there are shades of stateside 70’s nascent punk from the likes of the Stooges, and hues of early 80’s goth-rock reminiscent of Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Cure. Incredibly there is space left for some creative modern hip-hop bass lines and eclectic rhythms. All in all it makes them difficult to pin down – no one else sounds quite like this band.
“We bought a smoke-machine”, says Jennifer dryly pointing toward an innocuous looking box coughing out wisps of white fog, “it makes every shit band look good.” I have to disagree – a hundred smoke machines wouldn’t improve your average X-Factor winner would it? Not unless it was spewing out Agent Orange, but I digress. The machine, now the centre of attention appeared to be struck by a sudden bout of stage-fright and stops working. “It’s run out of smoke,” continues Jennifer looking nonplussed. “There goes the ambience,” remarks Mat.
Shoulders collectively shrugged and conciliatory smiles exchanged it’s back to the music. ‘Pretty Little Thing’ continues the sombre sounds. The shared vocals of Jennifer and Katherine bear almost confessional tones, scarcely above a half-whisper. The soaring chorus breaks free in a glorious heavenly harmony to contrast the oddly enjoyable gloom. The vocals on ‘Us Against The World’ and ‘Some Kinda Blue’ similarly impress. Mat thumps the drums with increasing energy and fervour whilst Jennifer wrings out wailing tones from her guitar. Katherine manages to simultaneously play bass and play a little percussion – hitting what looked like a wooden block attached to her mic stand. Whatever it was, it worked.
“’You Came Over late’. It’s our new single. It’s about staying up late. It’s about getting stoned and generally about doing what you shouldn’t do.” Jennifer was tuning her guitar whilst introducing the final song and, seemingly and inadvertently, telling tales of life on the road. “[at the hotel] There’s only two beds and lots of edibles. This is what you should be into. Forget smoking, edibles are the future.” I might be being naive here but ‘edibles’, nudge-nuge wink-wink? My first thought was a bag of Doritos and Jelly Babies…. Anyway, the closing song turns out to be as upbeat as Indian Queens get. Not that it doesn’t have an undercurrent of brooding melancholy, of course, it just adds a layer of breaking-dawn sunlight. The hallmarks are there – the impressive vocals, the wailing extended guitar notes, the inventive bass , the thumping drums – it just blends all of these into a cathartic journey of light and dark.
There’s no doubting the impression Indian Queens have on almost everyone that hears them. The cheers and noises of appreciation at The Sunflower Lounge grew louder as the set progressed; easily one of the best young bands around at the moment. Without question a band to look out for on the live circuit. You will not be disappointed.