Big Joanie + Maria Uzor + Gurnal Gadafi

  • Friday | 03.11.23
  • 7.00pm
  • Band on the Wall, Manchester
  • £14 Advance

Formed in the heart of London’s DIY punk scene, Big Joanie (featuring guitarist Stephanie Phillips, bassist Estella Adeyeri, and drummer Chardine Taylor-Stone) are the original Black feminist punk band whose passionate live shows and more-ish blend of nineties riot grrrl and synth-heavy post punk, have seen them steadily rise to become one of the most championed bands of the current era.

Not only did Thurston Moore and Eva Prinz start their independent label Daydream Library Series solely to release the band’s critically celebrated debut album Sistahs, but the band have also played a coveted string of support slots since then. Their tours include performing with acts like Bikini Kill, Skunk Anansie, Sleater-Kinney, and Idles, and garnered positive press in outlets such as BBC 6 Music, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and Brooklyn Vegan.

Following the release of their 2020 single ‘Cranes in the Sky’, a cover of Solange Knowles released on Jack White’s Third Man Records, Big Joanie are back with their sophomore record Back Home.

Back Home is a dramatic leap forward for the band; the band build on their tightly knit, lo-fi punk formula to bring forth a collage of blazing guitars, down tempo dance punk, and melancholic strings that evoke the full depth of the band’s expansive art punk vision.

The album title references a search for a place to call home, whether real or metaphysical. “We were really ruminating on the idea of a home and what it means,” explains Stephanie. “It’s about the different ideas of home, whether that’s here in the UK, back in Africa or the Caribbean, or a place that doesn’t really exist; it’s neither here nor there.”

The band worked with multidisciplinary artist Angelica Ellis to design the striking embroidered cover art, which is a depiction of Chardine’s nephew at the barbers. The artwork is a reference to the embroidered wall hangings popular in Caribbean homes post-Windrush that were a callback to the homes they left behind.

The album’s strength lies in the band’s bold and varied new sound. Album opener ‘Cactus Tree’ is an eerie, gothic folk tale that tells the story of a woman waiting for her lover while a wall of euphoric harmonies and screaming feedback roll in the background. Lead single ‘Happier Still’ is a driving, Nirvana-influenced track that grapples with the idea of wanting to push through a depressive episode. Inspired equally by the melodic rock of Hüsker Dü and the mystical sensibilities of Stevie Nicks, closer ‘Sainted’ brings the club-ready sentiment of the 2018 single ‘Fall Asleep’ to its natural conclusion.

In the four years since their debut, the band have meticulously honed their craft to incorporate new sounds and styles. “I’d say part of it is us having more experience in the studio and knowing what we’re capable of,” says Chardine. When we did the ‘Cranes in the Sky,’ single for Third Man, I feel like that was a changing point as to what we can do in the studio, in the sense it doesn’t have to be a copy of what we can do live.”

Their experience on the gig circuit also seems to have paid off as watching bands like Sleater-Kinney and Idles gave them a chance to figure out how to create a sound made for those larger stages. “You can see the development from the shows we’ve played and wanting to be bigger and louder,” says Chardine. “I guess that means that you end up thinking more ambitiously.”

Outside of Big Joanie, all three band members manage a formidable array of solo projects. Stephanie is a freelance music writer and became a published author last year with Why Solange Matters. Estella works on the music programme Girls Rock London and is part of the collective behind Decolonise Fest with Stephanie. Chardine chairs the Equalities Commission at Musician’s Union, is a prominent voice in the LGBTQ community and is working on a book about Black feminism.

Summer 2022 welcomes another new chapter for the group, playing at the Grace Jones-curated Meltdown Festival, the Park stage at Glastonbury festival, opening for St Vincent on her UK tour, and for Bikini Kill for a second time on their European tour.

Despite Big Joanie’s many accomplishments, there is so much more the band want to achieve and Back Home looks set to be the breeding ground for a new era of Big Joanie. With their boundary-breaking approach to punk, radical politics, and an appreciation for earworm melodies, Big Joanie are set to become important voices for a new generation of punks.

Bar open: 5.00pm
Artists on stage: 7.30pm
Curfew: 10.00pm
Stage: The Venue