Every girl has to grow up sometime — even one who hit No. 2 in her home country’s charts with her first single at the age of 20 or took home a BRIT award (the British version of a Grammy) for Best Female Artist at 21, like Kate Nash. Moving on from her cheery, indie-pop past (on 2008’s Made of Bricks, it was hard to not draw comparisons between her and fellow British export Lily Allen), Nash’s newest album, Girl Talk, doesn’t discuss her newfound feminist and rather “riot grrrl” identity — it shouts it.
Nash, as part of her Girl Talk tour, played in San Francisco on May 11 at the Chapel, one of San Francisco’s most beloved indie music stops. Peach Kelli Pop, headed by Allie Hanlon, opened before leaving the audience to the mercy of the ’90s-loving music programmer.
Finally, Nash and her band took the stage, beginning with a rousing version of “Sister” followed by “Death Proof,” both of which are from Girl Talk. Nash and her all-female band, which includes Emma Hughes on bass and Linda Buratto on guitar, exuded a raw energy that seems much more expected at a Fidlar concert than an all-ages show, where a good half the crowd was outside the stereotypical 18-to-30 age bracket.
As is fitting with an album that seems to be as much about the music itself as the ideology behind it, Nash often interspersed songs with tales and pep talks. After “Fri-End,” she discussed toxic friendships, and in another later vignette, she emphasized the importance of disregarding others’ opinions and being a strong, independent person.
A live show is a completely different experience from listening to an album for many reasons — the vibe, the collective energy, the sound — but most notable is the chance fans get to see what the artist is really like in person. Judging by her willingness to discuss rather unromantic everyday life issues that aren’t often mentioned in pop songs — as in “Another day goes by, and I don’t wash my hair” from Girl Talk’s “Lullaby for an Insomniac” — Nash comes off as quite down-to-earth and truly passionate about furthering feminism. She’s involved in two main projects: her role as Global Ambassador for the Because I Am A Girl Foundation, which she discussed between songs, and Kate Nash’s Rock ‘n’ Roll For Girls After School Club, which she founded in 2010. Nash started the club after realizing just how negatively popular culture and media affect young girls’ self-esteem and identities. Through it, she aims to empower young teenage girls and make them more confident and secure with who they are. Although Nash didn’t discuss this in her show, she didn’t need to — as she danced with and hugged fans to “3 AM,” her love for them and her commitment to their empowerment said it loud and clear.
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