Panic Shack wreak havoc at Clwb Ifor Bach during Sŵn Festival 2019

Cardiff’s freshest female-fronted punky ensemble, Panic Shack, smashed the ball out of the park during their performance on the ground floor of Clwb Ifor Bach on Saturday night.

The room vibrated with excitement as guitarist Meg proclaimed, “it’s only our third show, by the way”. Her guitar picked the opening notes of ESG’s sorority-unifying track,  Erase You and the audience bounced in awe as it ricocheted through the room, sending everyone present into a punk-induced frenzy. Front woman Sarah’s unique dance moves were hypnotizing, whilst her words spoke to every woman who has ever had their heart broken.

The spunky quintet then went on to perform Let’s Write A Song and Jiu Jits-You. Throughout the performance, the chemistry between the band was palpable. The five are thick as thieves – best friends, colleagues and now band mates.  On witnessing their confidence and stage presence, I found it hard to believe that these girls had only performed live as an ensemble thrice.  When they whipped out a choreographed dance routine during Jiu Jits-You, the room erupted.

I caught up with Meg and Emily after the show; who told me the story behind thought provoking track, Jiu Jits-You.

Meg: Well, the reason we wrote that song was were all in Manchester on a work thing – we all work together – and something happened, these men in a bar actually, started like, trying to talk to us, trying to buy us drinks that we hadn’t asked for. They were trying to leave us this drink and we were like “we don’t want it, take it back!” – and at the time we were trying to write our first ever song! And it just wound us up so much, we just started going “I’m gonna Jiu Jits-You!” We were just having a laugh really, but that’s where it came from.

Lead vocalist Sarah’s versatility was made evident during the song Firsts, which featured the addition of spoken word. This was touched upon by Meg, who described, She’s been doing this spoken word thing. ‘Cause Sarah – she’ll tell anyone – she’s got this memory box of songs that she’s written all throughout her teenage years, and she’s just always writing lyrics to songs. Which is mad because I’m not like that. She’s a bit of a poet – she’s our little poet! Emily goes on to explain, writing lyrics were more of an outlet for her I think in school and during those years.

Each member of Panic Shack comes from a creative background. The band’s front woman – local artist Sarah Harvey – is the talented writer behind the band’s post-punk feminist lyrics. Drummer David Bassey plays with Cardiff’s own CVC whilst bassist, Emily Smith also lends her musical hand to local ensemble John Mouse. Guitarists, Meg Fretwell and Romi Lawrence admit they only picked up their instruments for the first time a year ago! These women are insanely talented in different ways and their passion and determination for musical success is inspiring to girls everywhere.

The five flowed into cover song, Damaged Goods. The track, first released by Gang Of Four in 1979, was successfully executed by the Cardiff quintet, building the tension for the Huw Stephens tipped track, and primary song to gain a radio play for the band Who’s got my lighter?. As I glanced around the packed out room, I noticed audience members chanting along with Sarah and the gang mid-mosh. Emily discussed this, explaining; Afterwards, people were coming up to us saying we’d heard you on the radio so we thought we’d come along, because we got played on Radio 6 on Thursday, which got put together so last minute.

She goes on to add, This whole situation is so surreal to us at the minute, because we’ve had three shows, we’ve recorded our song a month ago, like, we wrote Who’s Got My Lighter in a day and since a month ago it’s been played on the radio like three times.

Meg continues, It was literally a month to the day that we recorded it with Tom Rees and it got played on the radio! It’s all gone so fast… I don’t know if we know anyone else who knows how this feels! We keep pinching ourselves!

So, what can we expect from Panic Shack in 2020?

Meg: We have got a great support opportunity coming up – that’s about all I can tell you about it though! So keep your eyes peeled! It’s not released yet, but they’ve confirmed it with us – and this band are our main inspiration! That’s the biggy for me! I was excited about this gig [Clwb Ifor Bach], but that is the jackpot for me!

Emily: We met them at Primavera Festival this year and said “Come to Cardiff and we’ll support you!” then they got in touch and we were like WOW! Meg: We’re doing another gig with Telegate, who played after us tonight. We’re really chuffed about that too, we keep getting a lot of gig requests but we’ll just see what happens I guess. Emily: We’re still writing at the moment. Meg: Yeah, I think we need to take some time off to write because we’re all so busy, so the plan is to take some time off and actually write a lot of songs.

There we have it, Panic Shack have confidently claimed their place within the city’s already vibrant scene; perfecting a balancing act between confidence and vulnerability, laying themselves bare whilst seeming unshakeable; it will be interesting to see what the future holds for these girls, and if last weekend is anything to go by, there is a lot to look forward to.

Words @corinnekday.

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