Over the past few weeks, there’s been a palpable air of excitement for the return of Queen Kwong to these shores. The group’s leader, the enigmatic Carré Callaway, was discovered by Trent Reznor when she was 17. Since then, they’ve supported Nine Inch Nails and have made a name for themselves in the US with their trashy rock vibes and reckless live show.
The current inception of Queen Kwong includes Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland, former Marilyn Manson bassist Fred Sablan and AWOLNATION drummer Hayden Scott, which no doubt caused intrigue amongst the capital’s rock fans. Whether or not the audience had heard much by Queen Kwong before this evening is anyone’s guess, but they came out in force tonight – the second of four free gigs in London this month.
Support act Skinny Girl Diet are an ideal entrée for the evening, offering the curious onlookers piledriving slabs of fuzz-driven, sleazy grunge rock. The London-based female trio cause a stir during their set with erratic song structures and frankly terrifying screams from bassist Amelia. Although it’s difficult to get a decent view due to the giant pillar in the middle of the room and low stage floor, it doesn’t stop the first few rows getting unruly from the off.
After a short change over, the members of Queen Kwong take to the stage for the second night of their London residency to rapturous applause. In terms of musical history and success, Callaway’s bandmates outweigh her somewhat but there’s no question that all eyes are centre stage during the performance, from the very first rumbling note of Oh Well to the destructive end of Purrfiction. Her raspy and erratic vocals are matched with discordant, sludgy guitars and a hard-hitting rhythm section, ensuring some clarity among the chaos. The audience are treated to tracks from Queen Kwong’s upcoming LP including Cold Daggers and Newt, all bass-heavy and seductive chords overlaid with Callaway’s unforgivingly raw vocals and spontaneous stage moves.
There’s a limited amount of Queen Kwong music out there at the minute, but those in the know will have been thrilled with an outing of Like The Swan amidst the new material. By the show’s end, Callway climbs the room’s central pillar, and sees out the set on an unsuspecting punter’s shoulders.
For Queen Kwong fans of old, the show was a smashing display of the care-free punk rock attitude that Callaway exudes. For anyone witnessing the band for the first time, it just may be the start of a beautiful friendship.
**Queen Kwong, Live at The Stillery, Camden, London on February 18, 2015 **Photos: Sandra Sorensen
Queen Kwong finish off their London residency with gigs upstairs at The Garage on February 20 and Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen the following night.