Opening their set with a suitably ‘fuck you, you don’t own me’ poem, Fistymuffs went on to rock the basement of Conroy’s in Dundee on May 5.
With an early song about unconsensual touching at gigs – they brought their Riot Grrrl energy to the stage, with heavy guitar and enthusiastic drums. The ‘get up and dance’ vibe resonated well with the audience of pink-haired girls in leather trousers and cheek piercings prowling around in packs, as well as the earnest boys disappearing every few songs to smoke thin cigarettes out on the pavement.
Suky Goodfellow – who also performs with Voicex – is fairly well known on the spoken word scene for her honest and funny poems on love, loss, and political action, but it’s nice to see her in an all-female band. She formed Fistymuffs with fellow members Patty Vea and Nicola Foxx while taking part in the Girls Rock School in Edinburgh, and they’re keen to bring the feminist ethos of the school to their live shows.
Each song had a short introduction on a range of topics, including comic book heroines, butterflies, and how women’s rights pioneer Mary Woolstonecraft took her baby on a business trip to Europe. Some of the songs were more personal, with ‘Coercive Control’ being about an emotionally abusive relationship from Patty’s past. It included lines like: He says that you’re nothing without him/ He says you won’t survive without him/ Show me the bruises,” while others focused on topics such as unwanted groping and the rejection of patriarchal body standards.
Their bold punk riffs were at their best during ‘Fistymuffs Anthem’ where they shout: “Fuck the patriarchy/ We’ve had enough/ We’re Fistymuffs/ We’re Fistymuffs!” With the audience singing along it felt like a breathe of fresh air through what can often be a stale live music scene. Hopefully we’ll see them north of the Tay again soon.
Fistymuffs will be playing at Leith Depot on Leith Walk in Edinburgh on June 13 from 7-11pm, as part of the ‘GRRRLS Who Rock’ showcase alongside Farting Suffragettes and Losing Concentration. Entry by donation.
Words and picture: Ana Hine