Live Review: Bully

The Hug and Pint, 21/05

‘Almost to the day, really? Shit.’ Alicia Bognanno ruminates on the passage of time after realising that it’s been three whole years – nearly to the date – since Bully headlined a Glasgow show. According to Bognanno, the place they’d played back then was decidedly cave-like. ‘Kind of like this,’ she says, glancing around the small, packed basement venue. Headliners on a three-act bill, the Nashville-based grunge powerhouse have sold out The Hug and Pint tonight – and rightfully so. Their raw, roaring sound is danceable, but it equally lends itself to the times you want to rage alone in your room after a shit day. This is hard-to-resist rock brilliance.

Bully rattle through their set at cheetah speed, all crashing drums and throat-shredding vocals. The band really gets the crowd going with offerings from their most recent album, Losing.  By now, they’ve nailed their formula; relatively hushed verses followed by big choruses – mammoth choruses – that expand to fill the whole venue. The songs sound similar, that’s for sure, but this doesn’t particularly matter – Bully have found what works for them and what prompts people to move, even on a Sunday night.

The oft-dissonant rock sound mingles with Bognanno’s vulnerable, candid songwriting (‘I question everything, my focus, my figure, my sexuality’, she sings on the honest ‘Trying’) to create something special. Then there’s Bognanno’s impressive voice. Vocals on ‘Trash’ sound like Courtney Love at her most bitingly passionate. ‘I Remember’ – a song about recalling the little things (‘I remember all about your mom/I remember what you do on Christmas’) – finds Bognanno screaming into the mic.

Bully hail tonight’s crowd as a ‘nice, respectful audience’, and there’s some refreshing onstage banter. After an apparently unplanned encore, the quartet exit the stage, leaving one thing for sure: with such a loud, punky sound, Bully will be making themselves heard for a while yet.
[Morgan Laing – @sm4shingpumpk1n]


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