In Photos: House of Women, Hot Stamp and Red Ivory at The Shacklewell Arms

Tucked away on the outskirts of Dalston, The Shacklewell Arms is a deceptively unassuming venue. Yet, a House of Women headline gig beckons the chaos of the East London music scene, even on a blustery Thursday evening in March.

Upon arrival, I’m greeted with the makings of a perfect live music venue. Posters of gigs gone by and abstract head-spinning projections adorn the walls. Elsewhere, an extensive queue for the bathroom is equalled by an extensive queue for the bar. Stacks of VHS tapes threaten to topple onto staff pulling pints and chunky 90s TV sets roll low-quality silent footage above their heads. The bathrooms are scrawled with toilet cubicle manifestos and a pint of a Red Stripe sits at the not-too-unreasonable London price of £5.60.

Female four-piece Red Ivory is first up and welcomed to the stage by the buzz of an already eager crowd. The young South East Londoners perform a set that blends grunge guitar riffs, drawling vocals and cathartic screams. Highlights include the 2022 single ‘No.7’ which washed over on-lookers with its continuous melody and standout guitar segments.

Hot Stamp is next on the bill, a punchy London-based five-piece, fronted by the frank vocals and energetic attitude of Francoise Hardy look-alike Jasmine Levy. Catchy and decidedly punk, the band ripped their way through a set of vengefully titled tracks including ‘Never Again’ and ‘Watching You Watching Her.’ The addition of ‘Starfucker’ saw the vocalist crumple to the floor with all the melodrama of a formidable frontwoman. Rock ’n’ roll in both attitude and appearance, sisters Jasmine and Poppy sported low-waisted mini shorts, whilst the rest of the band were decked out in an assortment of relaxed t-shirts and loose-fitting jeans.

The angst of Hot Stamp melts away with the arrival of House of Women and their opening track ‘Elsas Lullaby,’ a haunting head-rocker to open what would soon unravel into a riotous set from the headline act. Formed in 2021 by Kyla Lanai, Elsa Malazogu and Poppy Miller, the band has since become seasoned regulars on the London gig circuit, releasing their first EP ‘People Printing’ late last year. Hot and hedonistic, the Thursday night crowd was a sell-out, breaking the record for free sign-ups at The Shacklewell.

Moody vocals float above gentle guitar riffs, before a change of sonic scenery arrives in the form of fast-paced strings and percussion, dramatically dovetailed by introspective lyrics and a wandering guitar loop. A mosh-pit forms with the arrival of ‘6.0’ encouraging long-haired 20-somethings to rear their alternative heads in unison. As the set continues waves of hair tumble into a sea, and the temperature of the room becomes undoubtedly tropical. As is customary of any House of Women gig, the band descend into the audience, greeted by devoted fans rocking on their knees. “The humidity made my guitar damp,” Guitarist Poppy Miller reflects on the gig, “Massive shout-out to the crowd that night, it got intense.”

The crowd erupts into ear-ringing applause as the set winds down, shortly followed by cries of approval and pleas for an encore, to which the band obliged. With the end of one successful night comes the dawn of another as there’s always more on the cards with House of Women. “We are doing The Great Escape this year which will be our first Brighton gig, and there’s also some new music coming soon” says Poppy. Happening and in high demand, catch them before you can’t.

Photos by Mattia Ghisolfi


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