Gig review: Independent Venue Week at Windmill Brixton

Windmill Brixton, the home of new music in South London, is holding a series of tantalising gigs for Independent Venue Week. Music contributor Richard Pearmain reviews the first two for us.

Photo by Richard Pearmain
Misty Miller. Photo by Richard Pearmain

Celebrating the country’s pub back rooms and repurposed halls that give many a band their first break, at a time when several are under threat, Independent Venue Week kicked off on Monday night. At a busy Windmill, I caught the main support band, the fresh faced Shame, who, despite initial misgivings that there was going to be fair bit of Fat White Family aping (due to the singer’s Bez style on-the-spot running and T-shirt over the head antics), proved to be a good draw.

Monday’s headliner was local girl Misty Miller, playing here with a full band. Hailing from a musical background, and having released her debut album when she was only 16, Miller has developed her style into a ballsy rock and roll sound that has got the likes of Clash Magazine pricking up their ears. Sporting a Beavis & Butthead top, she blazed through some new tracks, including ones from her upcoming EP, plus old favourite Girlfriend.

Micachu & The Shapes at the Windmill. Photo by Richard Pearmain
Micachu & The Shapes. Photo by Richard Pearmain

Tuesday was a quieter affair, in terms of crowd numbers, though no less enjoyable. Opening band Vita Breve were a ramshackle collection of waifs and strays from other assorted bands, ploughing through Fall inspired tunes such as I Am A Squid (the lyrics of which were basically “I am a squid” on repeat) and a cover of Ivor Cutler’s Women Of The World that took me a while to twig what it was. Up next were Madonnatron (yes really), an all-female post punk trio who powered through a short but perfectly formed set.

The headliners on Tuesday may have been listed under a nom de plume, but they were as big a coup as the announcement that band du jour Fat White Family were due to play at the Windmill the following night. Fresh from receiving a BAFTA nomination for her soundtrack to the Scarlett Johansson sci-fi feature Under The Skin, and with her face adorning the front cover of the latest edition of the Wire, Mica Levi had reconvened her abstract art band Micachu & The Shapes for a surprise appearance. Funnily enough, I’d seen them play at the Windmill a couple of times in the past, but the last time I’d caught them live was headlining a show at XOYO, following the release of their second album, Never.

Backed, as ever, by Marc Pell on drums and Raisa Khan on keyboards, with Levi on guitar, the Shapes treated us to what sounded, on the main, like new material. Fundamentally an experimental pop band, the tracks tonight sounded a bit more “straight” – gone were the racked bottles that once served as additional percussion, but the new sound was no less arresting.

With local heroes Fat White Family due to play a sold night show next, the Windmill have certainly proved that independent venues are very much alive and kicking.

Written by Richard Pearmain.


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