Famously name-checked by Le Tigre in 1991’s ‘Hot Topic’, feminist rock pioneers UT originally came from the downtown New York no-wave scene in 1978. They moved on to London, touring with The Fall in the early 1980s and releasing four albums that decade, before disbanding in 1990. Hayley Foster da Silva witnesses their return
There was a lot of buzz surrounding this gig on 23 September as it was to be the start of UT‘s first proper UK tour in 20 years. Described as a “collision between rock, free jazz and the avant garde“, the all female trio haven’t released an album since 1989’s Griller– an album of no wave dirty sounding punk, that to the unacquainted listener sounds equivalent to a blend of riot grrrl style similar to Bikini Kill and the punk rock style of The Slits.
The Lexington slowly filled up with a surprising diversity of people of all ages and genders. Unlike other bands where you can spot their fans from a mile off, this was a completely unexpected crowd.
This diversity matched the range of the music to come, as the first band duo Peepholes played a set consisting solely of drums and synthesisers producing an electro/noise combo with some almost riot grrrl style wailing mixed in. They left the effect on for the whole set, meaning that it was difficult to catch what they were trying to say in-between the songs.
The second support act were Trash Kit, an all female band that played happy sounding rock and made lots of friendly chat between songs, the lead singer telling us about how she had lost her wallet and the journey of being able to sell a zine from New Orleans at a gig that had actually inspired them to form a band.
Finally, UT came to the stage. Looking older than the few photos online, the way they played was testimony to their years of experience. They could each play one instrument remarkably well and also swapped instruments continually, not only swapping guitars for different ones, but even swapping instruments entirely, showing just how multi talented they are.
The only problem with this was that there was sometimes a big silence between songs and the crowd would get a little antsy. However, once the performance got going properly, they played a set consisting of tracks from all of their albums and many from Griller, including ‘Wailhouse’ and ‘Canker’. It wasn’t quite pitch perfect as they apparently had new equipment and had to tune the instruments a few times, but once they got it right it sounded deep and dirty.
It felt like this might be similar to what the 1990s riot grrrl gigs might have been like but without the political content. It seems such a shame that while older male rock bands like The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd are still well accoladed, musical history seems to have left out an innovative female band such as UT who all these years later, could certainly still be inspiring women to pick up an instrument.
UT are currently continuing their UK tour and then venturing into Europe- the final date in the UK will be 28 September at The Stereo Café Bar in Glasgow
Picture of cover of UT’s 1987 album In Gut’s House shows “UT” in lined orange large letters on a light blue background.
Were you at the gig and if so what did you think? Had you heard of UT before reading about them on The F-Word?