‘Let’s do some good ol’ Slits’ reggae sh*t’, shouts Ari Up at guitar grrl Caroline ‘Honeychild’ Coleman who subsequently slides into an extra long intro. Spot on! The 47-year-old, poom-poom-shakin’ dreadlocked medusa rules the stage, her band and its mesmerizing sound.
Mischievous, avant-garde, yet indigenous.
Since their dub-punk-reggae encompassing debut record ‘Cut’ in 1979 and its controversial album cover, featuring the band members almost stark-naked, The Slits have challenged, amplified and intersected the post-punk genre. After their split in 1982, the band emerged like a phoenix from the ashes in 2005 under the umbrella of Sex Pistol Paul Cook and Mark Pirroni (Wolfmen, Adam Ant, Siouxsie and the Banshees). A year later, Ari Up, Tessa Pollitt and their new, youngish riot grrls released their staggering EP ‘Revenge Of The Killer Slits’.
‘Now, let’s do some winding with the bass’, screams Ari Up. After kicking off the night with The World Of Grown Ups and its solemn warning against the burgeoning stiffs of this world, German drummer Anna Schulte counts down the beats for FM, a trademark demonstrating The Slit’s musical versatility.
Before we are even able to catch a tiny grasp of air after jumping around to Ari Up’s dubious honks, the rah-rah-skirted, energetic band leader shouts: ‘What the f*ck is going on on-screen nowadays? I’m thinking ‘shit’. These lyrics fit right into these times.’ Two seconds later the first few pounding beats of New Town accompanied by Ari’s screeched, jungle-esque vocals fill the Jamaican spotlighted loft.
It must have happened somewhere between us earthlings becoming Partner(s) From Hell to the grain-speeded, immaculate bass tunage offered by Tessa Pollitt, and Hollie Cook’s angelic vocals to her self-written ballade Cry. Suddenly, everyone seems to have lost any spite of fear to touch these post-punk-reggae Amazons. Some chosen dudes get pulled up on stage for some serious head-bangin’ and poom-poom-shakin’ with Ari and Hollie. The rest of us earthlings are bouncing up and down in the moshpit.
Stereotyping, labelling, quick judgement? Not with The Slits, not tonight. The Slits’ omnipresent lyrics and performance incorporate the most basic element of D.I.Y. culture: Everyone can do it. Everyone becomes part of the bashment.