Image Provided by Chuff Media
Hot Milk, the pop-punk passion project of vocalist/guitarist duo Han Mee and Jim Shaw, erupt onto the stage at Camden’s Roundhouse in support of their fellow Mancunians and alt-rockers Pale Waves, backed by bassist Tom Paton and drummer Harry Deller.
The band, who have supported the likes of Foo Fighters and are tipped to do so again this year, live up to their name with how they heat up the crowd. From the get-go, the four firecracker musicians come out roaring. Han is a vision—in a kind of ghoulish, The Ring sort of way—as she steps out, her dark hair and black eyeliner stark against her pale skin and white leather outfit. Jim, meanwhile, steps off the stage, placing absolute faith in the wobbling shoulders of one crowd member (thankfully, he doesn’t break a leg, except metaphorically).
The blistering guitar riffs of ‘Split Personality’ cut through the crowd in seconds, until half of the main area is already moshing. It’s a surprising reaction for a support act, until you remember that they’ve already racked up over 25 million Spotify streams and a cult following to match. Up next, ‘I JUST WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I’M DEAD’ and ‘Wide Awake’ make the band’s surge in popularity clear: their music parallels the best of the early-2000s American emo scene. It also explains the variety across the audience—whether it’s to gaggles of elaborately-dressed goth girls, or previous-generation punk-rockers looking to relive their pasts, it’s evident that bands like Hot Milk and Pale Waves have a universal appeal.
Hot Milk are committed to fostering this diversity at their shows—in their words, creating an ‘aggressively safe space’ for their fans to be ‘authentically and unapologetically’ themselves. ‘The world’s a f***ing s**tshow, so let’s party while we can’, Han shouts halfway through their set. ‘Let’s connect with each other, yeah?’ Despite their barbed-wire instrumentals and knife-sharp vocals, their music makes an oddly comforting soundtrack to what feels like a modern-day political apocalypse. Their song ‘Candy Coated Lie$’ (‘Hold the world up, but it's weighing on me, weighing on me / Watch it all fall from a great height / All these rats that are running races’,) might never have felt as relevant as it does during their performance.
Still, Hot Milk aren’t all about politics. Their closing hits, ‘I Think I Hate Myself’, ‘Glass Spiders’ and ‘Awful Ever After’, mark them as strong lyricists whose words have a power to resonate with their audience on a personal level. It’s a shame that the live instrumentation, pushed to the maximum as it is, often drowns those lyrics out, but it’s the thought that counts. Whether it’s for their lyrics, their instrumentals, or just their dizzying loudness, it at least can’t be disputed that Hot Milk leave a lasting impression. ‘Lukewarm’ probably isn’t even in their vocabulary.
Edited by Josh Aberman, Music Editor