Report of Afiach & A-Grrrls Gig 23rd October 2015
November 1, 2015
After 6 weeks touring, playing 33 shows in 8 countries, I (Efa Supertramp) was pretty tired when I returned to the UK homeless, and with no plan as to what to do next. I actually booked this show whilst on tour. Evan and I played together in June, at Kebele in Bristol and LARC in London; and earlier in the year I also put POG on in our graffiti yard at The Wells Hotel. I knew I wanted to see both of them play again, and so there was no question – we would find a way to put on a show!! With some pretty last minute flyering all around Cardiff and some help with postering on all the legal spaces around the city, as well as plenty of online promotions, we crossed our fingers and hoped someone would turn up, to at least cover costs and hopefully raise some money for a good cause!
Afiach teamed up with A-Grrrls to put on the evening, with a mostly female and/or queer line-up it seemed to make sense, and we decided we wanted to support the current refugee struggle in someway. After researching a few different groups, we decided the evening would be in aid of ‘Movement For Justice’. They are a group who are involved in many campaigns, including the campaign to Shut Down Yarl’s Wood detention centre, which detains women and has a terrible reputation for abuse. Even the Chief Inspectors of Prisons has labelled Yarl’s Wood, as ‘a place of national concern’.
Another reason we chose to support Movement for Justice, is that they are inclusive and give asylum seekers free travel to their protests, and we wanted to help promote the demonstration on the 7th of November where they are going to surround Yarl’s Wood.
As the venue is licensed in the evenings, kids were only allowed until 9pm. Quite a few people turned up with kids, and we decided to change the line-up a bit so they could see as many of the acts as possible. Our headliner, Evan Greer who is a radical parent herself started off the evening with a short set, this included her “only children’s song” which has amazing lyrics:
“The only thing people wanna know about you,
is what’s inside your diaper,
should they buy you pink or blue.
Well all I care about is if it’s pee or if it’s poo,
coz you’re my little baby and I love you through and through.
You can be a boy, and a girl,
and a lion, and a squirrel,
and a diamond, and a pearl in the sea,
or a big fat rock or an astronaut, but you just can’t be a cop!”
The audience were captivated from the beginning, and it stayed like this all evening. It was so inspiring to have a room full of people, listening intensely to all the artists who had great things to say and wonderful tunes. After playing shows across the continent where more often than not the audience is silent; I often felt sad thinking about acoustic gigs in the UK where people just get wasted and not pay attention the artists who are pouring their hearts out in a very raw and honest way. I think the success of our evening was down to a few things really – having a really interesting, talented and diverse line-up, with an audience genuinely interested in what the evening was about, and the different artists represented. As well as this, the gig was in a coffee shop, and despite selling beer and wine; the environment was certainly not one that encouraged people to binge drink (though, admittedly I was probably the most drunk person there, because I had been so stressed earlier in the day….!!!)
I went on second, this was my ‘homecoming’ show after my crazy European tour, and WOW, it was such an awesome gig. Playing unplugged to an audience which is hanging on to your every word, singing along and clapping along – it felt really special and inspiring… I was pleased to be home, and welcomed back in such a great way.
Eirlys Rhiannon compared the evening, and really tied everything together – informing the audience of the group we were raising money for, plugging the new A-Grrrls and Ffwff zine which we were launching at the gig and introducing the artists who were playing. The line-up was so diverse with performers from Wales, England, Egypt, USA and Algeria on the bill; people of many genders and backgrounds.
Next on was Dancing Queer, a tattooed, pierced, hairy, genderqueer, refugee belly dancer from Egypt. They dance to raise awareness of their LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters around the world, persecuted just for being who they are. Everyone was mesmerised by their beautifulness and amazing dancing and outfit!
POG took the stage (which was not a stage) next, they are an anarchist folk collective from Brighton. They play beautiful folk songs, and tonight’s line-up was a six piece which included Evan Greer on drums, as well as a keyboard, obbo, violin and guitar/vocals. They brought a bit more party energy to the gig, and sang about everything from car boot sales, to class war; a song which encourages white-middle class punks to open their eyes to their privilege “we will never admit, we were born on the top of the pile….”
An unadvertised performer from Algeria went on next, playing some great rhythms on his jambe drum. Dancing Queer joined in with a dance, and it was a great addition to the evening.
Next up was Tracey Curtis, who’s voice sounds effortless and beautiful. These songs are powerful social justice songs, but are sung in a very sweet way. She sings a tribute to the NHS; about all coppers being bastards; and a beautiful anti-prison song called ‘Snow is Freedom’. Her set left me in awe, with so many feelings and thought running through my head. It was a roller coaster of emotion from anger, to hope, to disappointment and gratitude.
Finally to finish off, Evan Greer performed again, with the help of POG as a backing band on some songs. Evan’s set list is full of catchy, amazing songs and I’m always left in awe of her when I see her perform. She has so much passion, energy, and amazing lyrics delivered in a kind of pop-folk-punk way, the songs were running through my head for days! The performance got everyone up on their feet and dancing, a beautiful audience full of energy and inspired by the great evening of music. Evan was on tour around the UK with POG, you can read their tour diary here.
Afiach and A-Grrrls hope to work together again to bring some more awesome music to Wales, with a great positive message, to inspire hope for our community in these dark times. We were so glad that we raised an amazing £244.56 for Movement for Justice, thank you to everyone who donated! Music has the power to bring us together, put new ideas in our heads and share stories of struggle from different parts of the country/world together – thanks for your support!