Trekking down to south London on a school night for a band I’ve never heard felt like a little bit of a stretch this week. Completely missing the entrance to the Bussey Building in Peckham I felt like I was in a strange land wandering up Rye Road alone in the dark. Retracing my steps back to the station and finding the tucked away entrance I couldn’t anticipate what I’d find. Walking through a corridor reminiscent of school I stepped out into a courtyard and discovered art Narnia.
The CLF Art Café hosts a variety of creative events including performance, art, theatre and of course music. I was there to witness what was billed as The Birth of Henryetta. In advance of their debut single release, this was the first live performance of Henryetta. Described as “music for the disenchanted, freakish, alien and alive” I was eagerly anticipating the experience.
There is sometimes a little trepidation when you show up to support a friend’s band, just in case expectations aren’t met. I can confirm from the moment they walked onto the stage, Henryetta owned that room. I should have known we would be in for a special treat by the mannequin’s head perched on a pole on the stage’s edge.
Easing us into what I’d call acid art, and creating a beautiful sense of mystery, they harmonized and distorted two male vocals in a delicate and trippy way implying a delicious mix of mischief and menace before crashing into a rock sound reminiscent of the 70’s – while remaining fresh and innovative. A glorious bombardment of the senses.
Their sound was original yet somehow familiar, invoking the spirit of the Stooges, Doors and Queens of the Stone Age with, dare I say, just a sprinkle of Jamiroquai. A psychedelic trip, pushing the boundaries of reality without the risk of ‘going full Syd Barrett’, this was art with the right kind of drama; not just a gig, a well-conceived and rehearsed performance. So worth the journey south of the river.
Channelling the raw energy of Iggy Pop mixed with the power and allure of a young Marilyn Manson, Henryetta belted out all original songs that had the whole room dancing from the first note. Their sound felt accessible, raucously infectious and very catchy, especially their soon to be released single ‘Bite Your Tongue’ which I am still humming to myself; cannot wait to get my hands on it.