• Katie Pilbeam

Norwich Sound & Vision Day 1 Review

The eighth installment of Norwich Sound and Vision Festival returned to Norwich Arts Centre on Thursday evening with an impressive double headline show from buzzy up and coming female four-piece Goat Girl and pop punk New Yorkers Diet Cig.

Opening the festival were local duo Sink Ya Teeth, who bought pounding basslines and hypnotic dancey synth beats a-plenty. Their eighties infused sound combined lots of different layers and instrumentals to create a groovy danceable experience that seemed to cater to the mixed age range of the festival audience. The highlight of their set came in the final song, ‘If You See Me’, the band’s first release, which really seemed to elevate the set to a level that they hadn’t quite achieved throughout the rest.

Up next were South Londoners Goat Girl, who after being signed to the iconic Rough Trade Records after releasing just one single, are a band with a hell of a lot of promise. From the minute the band stepped on stage, they oozed an attitude of untouchable cool, which transferred equally into crashing drums, wailing guitars and loud basslines that I could feel rippling from the Arts Centre speakers and through my body. Notably, Goat Girl seem to favour writing short songs, and thus rattled through a lot of new, unreleased material across the set. The band also love to play around with tempo, teasing with gaps and silences before launching into perfectly chaotic and ramshackle choruses. Even more notably, Goat Girl have their finger on exactly what their ‘sound’ is, something within their guitar tone and the slow drawl of their lyrics makes their music so totally ‘them’, a sound completely unique and distant from their contemporaries.

Most recent single ‘Crow Cries’ sounded massive live, as it sped up and took on a life of its own, and debut single ‘Country Sleaze’ continued to embody everything the band are about. Their cool, distant, almost apathetic onstage appearance feeds into their grimy lyricism; “Touch my body, touch my soul, touch that deep and disused hole / Well I’m disgusting, I’m ashamed of this so-called human race”. This all seems to come as a product of their presence in a thriving and exciting South London scene producing a wealth of dirty, gritty alternative guitar music from the likes of Fat White Family, HMLTD and Shame, and Goat Girl certainly have the potential to continue carving their own path forward from that.

Closing the night were Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman, better known as pop punk duo Diet Cig, who switched up the entire feel of the Arts Centre into a brightly lit, energetic and happy space. Bounding on stage in a massively oversized rainbow coloured shirt came frontwoman Alex Luciano, who immediately proclaimed that this gig was a safe space for everyone to enjoy themselves, act consensually and have loads of fun. The crowd were onside immediately, and as she began to sing the slow opening lyrics to album opener ‘Sixteen’, I knew this was a gig where I could sing along at the top of my voice and dance without a care in the world. The set was full of clever transitions between tracks, and the energy rarely lulled except to play slow songs like ‘Apricots’, and even then, the sweetness of Luciano’s vocals meant that the audience’s attention never wavered.

A Diet Cig show is a joy to watch, and despite the space on stage being occupied only by Bowman’s drumkit, Luciano’s enthusiasm, energy and stage presence filled the whole room with good vibes with ease. It’s hard to take your eyes off the stage as she runs around, jumping and high kicking (I’d heard rumours of these high kicks but oh boy they did not disappoint) as if her life depended on it.

Yes, Diet Cig are a lot of fun, but behind the smiles, the glitter and endearing stage chatter stands a strong social conscience and genuine good intentions. Before playing ‘Tummy Ache’, Luciano dedicates the song to the outsiders, to everyone in the room who isn’t a cis white heteronormative male, and the song’s lyrics become all the more poignant and really resonated with me: “I’m starting to get real sick of trying to find my voice surrounded by all boys”.

Diet Cig are instant. Live, tracks like ‘Maid Of The Mist’, ‘Link In Bio’ and ‘Barf Day’ translate into fun and frantic danceathons, and the band’s energy and excitement to be performing is infectious. They bought the first night of the festival to a triumphant close, setting the tone for an exciting three days of music.

#norwich #soundandvision #livewire

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