Blondshell is the relatively newly-formed indie-rock persona of New York-raised, Los Angeles-based Sabrina Teitelbaum, formerly known as the pop-leaning BAUM. And what an about turn the 25-year-old has made, for the better. In a world where music is being produced at record pace and available on tap, it’s often difficult to be heard, let alone on repeat. But that’s exactly what Blondshell has you do, and not just with a single tune, but rather the entirety of her recently-released self-titled debut L.P.
Following storming, massively well-received sets at SXSW in Austin and The Great Escape in Brighton, tonight finds Teitelbaum bringing her Blondshell sass to Hackney’s rather warm MOTH Club. Walking through the crowd and up the two steps to the stage, Teitelbaum and her band take the stage to cheers and dive straight into crunchy 3 minute album opener Veronica Mars, the tune named after the Kristen Bell-led 00s high school drama. “2000 aughts, Logan’s a dick” she sings, referencing the show’s antagonist/love interest.
“This album came out a month ago or so, so we’re gonna play the whole thing for you” she offers, cheers rippling to the back of the club “and then we’re gonna add some that are not yet as well” she promises as the four-piece kick off boppy non-album cut Cartoon Earthquake.
Co-written with producer Yves Rothman, the slow-drive Sepsis is aired next, Teitelbaum’s crowd singing along to point of overstated exaggeration, the song’s crescendoing chorus encouraging slow nodding to morph to slow head-banging.
New song Street Rat is offered next, the bass-driven tune deliciously sprinkled with guitars cementing Blondshell’s retro 2000’s alt-rock vibe, the crowd soaking up new music like an expectant sponge. “How does it feel out there?” the 25-year-old asks.
“Quite hot” an audience member responds to chuckles from the crowd. “Me too” she responds, peeling a layer of clothing off and swigging from a 2-litre bottle of water as opening guitars ring out for her, now standard set addition, shimmering rendition of The Cranberries’ 1994 album No Need to Argue cut Disappointment.
“This is a song about friendship” Teitelbaum shares kicking off melancholy album tune Sober Together which evolves into a shining, lush guitar-laden delight. A bouncy rock rendition of Samia tune Charm You is aired next. “Also very enjoyable” an audience member offers as the band-lead takes a sip of water between songs. “That’s the kind of review we’re looking for: Also. Very. Enjoyable” the singer repeats, deadpan to laughs.
A gorgeous guitar intro leads into breezy album tune Joiner, driving beats underpinning the hooky sing-along cut before the opening chords of Teitelbaum’s first Blondshell song Olympus elicit screams from her audience and singalong vibes, the tune’s lush guitar break moving straight back into slow-drive crunch. “I wanna save myself, you’re part of my addiction” both Teitelbaum and the majority of the MOTH Club sing in unison.
“Based on my calculations at least somebody here is pissed about something” she suggests. “This song is for all the pissed [off] people” she continues before the four-piece dive headlong into album tune Salad. “Look what you did, you’ve made a killer of a Jewish girl” she sings pained, the rockier cut allowing both Teitelbaum and her audience to lose it somewhat, the singer stepping as close to fans singing her words back to her as possible without stepping off the stage.
“We’re gonna do a song called Kiss City” she offers, dialling the energy down a few notches, allowing for a little air to circulate in the overheated Hackney room before quiet album closer Dangerous is aired, the singer attempting an “songwriters circle” style setup with her guitarist and bassist “without crazy feedback” as her drummer watches on.
“You don’t know what it means for us to come here and for you all to show up and be so open to new music, and just be present like this. It means the entire world, so thank you” she shares before winding up tonight’s music with gritty album tune Tarmac.
And that’s it. A blur of ridiculously incredible songs played out by a band of super-tight musicians in a slippery 60 minutes. The four descend the stage, move through the crowd and disappear, encore tune Remi’s House abandoned from tonight’s show.
Blondshell’s influences seem to sit firmly in the late 1990s to early 2000s and cover the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins and Hole through to Ireland’s The Cranberries. But aside from the neatly slotted in covers, her music is fresh and her songs bring a current undertone to those past musical influences. Teitelbaum herself seems genuinely in awe of the reception she’s getting, but her music so justly deserves this attention. And then some.
Blondshell hit up YES in Manchester last night, and play The Louisiana in Bristol tonight before joining Gretel Hänlyn, A Place To Bury Strangers, Caroline Polacheck and others at Wide Awake Festival in London’s Brockwell Park this weekend. Following a few European festival stops and a North American summer tour, she returns to London for a headline show at Lafayette on 1st November.
Live review and photography of Blondshell @ MOTH Club by Kalpesh Patel on 24th May 2023