Kim Gordon live in Birmingham: Riot grrrl-in-chief packs more heat than ever

promotional shot for Kim Gordon's single 'ECRP'

Punk pioneer Kim Gordon graces the Institute with a wall of sonic intrigue: the best double bill outside of Glastonbury shakes Birmingham to its core on a balmy evening.

Kim Gordon is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in the alternative and punk world. Frontwoman and driving force behind the institution that is Sonic Youth, Gordon has returned this year with a radical new record: The Collective is a bold new venture for KG, which sees her pivot to harsh, trap beats layered with massive grunge parts and massive wall of sound style avant-garde art-rock elements.

Before Gordon unleashes her new material, the O2 Institute is treated to both barrels of Lambrini Girls. The Brighton punk duo are in fine form this evening, bringing the noise to the small room. Fiercely political and not afraid of anyone, their tunes are the embodiment of what ‘punk’ should mean in 2024: they rage against the Tories, transphobes, abusers in bands and anyone else who has the misfortune to find themselves in Lambrini Girls’ crosshairs. From minute one they’re in the face of the crowd and their inimitable frontwoman, Phoebe Lunny, is onto the barrier and into the sweating masses early doors. As well as their established classics from the You’re Welcome EP, and recent smash ‘God’s Own Country’, LG bring out a selection of new cuts, which take their raw punk energy and build on it.

Don’t think for a moment they’ve lost their edge though, the new tunes go hard and maintain their brand of short, spiky punk bangers. Lunny strides around the stage, often letting Lilly Macieira-Bosgelmez take the lead of fucking it up on the bass while Lunny insights chaos. There are huge things on the horizon for Lambrini Girls, do not sleep on these.

By now, the heat is rising in the Institute: it’s been a scorcher in Digbeth and the various boozers surrounding the Institute have been full since early afternoon. The pre-show playlist cuts abruptly, and Kim Gordon strides on with her band: there is an air of superstardom about Kim Gordon, and as they launch into ‘BYE BYE’, The Collective’s lead single, not an eye in the room is trained on anyone other than Kim. The new gear sounds gargantuan live, and the addition of a live drummer takes the processed beats up a notch in a live arena: it is unthinkably loud, and KG smatters in her signature massive guitar parts from the Fender Jag slung around her neck.

She barely says a word, and maintains a mystique that can only work with someone so revered. Dressed in a black silk blouse and what looks like a vintage Adidas Originals skirt, also black, the Riot Grrrl-in-chief is a picture of unbothered cool. They rattle through the cuts from The Collective and 2019’s No Home Record at pace, creating huge ten-story walls of feedback between each number, giving the sensation of an unending show. ‘I’m A Man’ and ‘Psychedelic Orgasm’ are highlights in a show of highlights, with Gordon hardly uttering a word between songs – there is near silence from the crowd when she speaks, such is the reverence for the living legend.

After eleven songs the band down tools and stride off – they can’t have been away for more than a minute before Kim Gordon and co take to the stage once more. They rattle through yet more tunes, working in some of the punkier numbers like ‘Hungry Baby’, and ‘Paprika Tony’. By now everyone in the room is drenched in sweat, except for Gordon. It’s like she is utterly unaffected by anything – it is a sight to behold.

‘Grass Jeans’ is the triumphant closer, and what a way to cap off a staggeringly raw and punky set. Gordon is on superb form, and as they play she unplugs her Jag from the pedal board, straight into a glistening Fender amp behind her. She spends the majority of the number causing cataclysmic levels of feedback by jamming the guitar into the mesh grille of the amplifier. It’s undoubtedly cool as fuck, and everything you want from a Kim Gordon show.

featured image: Danielle Neu

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