Misty Miller review – shiny, spiky punk pop, laced with doo wop

Blogger Ceiri O’Douglas reviews Wednesday night’s Misty Miller gig at Windmill Brixton, part of their lineup for Independent Venue Week. Photos by Holly Whitaker.

Photo by Holly Whitaker
Misty Miller and band. Photo by Holly Whitaker

Independent Venue Week is hoping to do for the country’s music pubs and clubs what Record Store Day has achieved for indie tune emporiums: give them some cultural capital, drum up some protective affection from the apathetic masses and save them from extinction, or, worse, becoming yet more luxury flats.

There’s not much that’s luxury about the Windmill Brixton, or the three bands on tonight’s bill, but each caters perfectly to their audience. Fish specialise in discordant and daydreamy grunge, punctuated by the occasional throaty roars of vocalist Asha.

Photo by Holly Whitaker
Photo by Holly Whitaker

Shark Dentist open with some malevolent, spoken word sludgecore, and it gets both friendlier and more ferocious after that.

And then Misty Miller takes to the stage, bringing Shark Dentist’s awesome drummer back as part of her band for the night. Slicker and more accessible than both support bands, Miller’s sound is a shiny, spiky punk pop, laced with doo wop harmonies provided by a floppy haired guitarist and a chisel-chinned bassist, posturing like James Dean in a tight white t-shirt, all attributes that have made her a favourite fixture of both the Week and the Windmill.

Bouncy crowd-movers such as Taxi Cab sit alongside more plaintive, introspective numbers such as Stars and Best Friend, but all showcase Miller’s impressive voice: silky and agile, with a confidence and flair that defy her paltry 21 years.

“I’m going to bring it down and bare my soul to you,” she promises before new song, Devil. Another contemporary offering, You Can’t Date A Model, is ostensibly a series of one-liners about bad dating choices, unfolding to reveal a heartfelt letter of regret about the folly of loving a junkie; Misty has spoken before about her time in a drugs wilderness.

Photo by Holly Whitaker
Photo by Holly Whitaker

But before this soul showing, there’s some skin showing, as James Dean whips his white shirt off and Misty strips off her de rigour lumberjack shirt to reveal a bralet and suddenly it’s wall to wall etch-a-sketch tattoos.

But they aren’t afraid of wearing their pop on their stripped-off sleeves either, as a version of “my favourite song to cover”, One Direction’s Steal My Girl demonstrates.

It’s the originals that steal the hearts of the dedicated crowd here tonight though, with instant classics Happy and show-closer Next To You providing the big sing-along moments, leaving everyone looking forward to the next Misty Miller Windmill visit, as well as the promised new album, in the next couple of months.

Find more out about the other gigs at Windmill Brixton this week, including Childhood and Shame.