London Highbury Garage

[B]The Donnas[/B] are fun-punk minimalists who've cut to the quick of rock and, in their haiku-like way...

“Yeah, we know it’s not art,” offers Donna A, with a swish of her ponytail, one song into The Donnas‘ encore. It’s the first time all night The Donnas have deviated from the script and relaxed their tuff-girl guard. You snatch a glimpse of four ordinary Californian girls having a lark, and then they’re off again: ‘Up All Night’, roaring away in a haze of guitar dust and hair products.

But this is art, kind of. What else would you call tonight’s otherwise pointless re-run of The Ramones‘ three-chord doo-wop, 20 years on? Populist teen fare, this isn’t: that would be Blink 182. As we know from American Pie, and Britney Spears‘Baby One More Time’ video, these days, being a teenager isn’t about smoking ‘doobies’, labouring three chords and sulking.

So, art then: as drawn by four girls rockin’ tight pants and fast cars anachronisms, like The Cramps‘ warped kid sisters. ‘Hyperactive’ finds ace guitarist Donna R churning out sleek riffs with more than a whiff of Angus Young. Bassist Donna F is Joey Ramone in the body of Sonia from EastEnders, drummer Donna C is a cartoon blaze of hair and arms, while vocalist Donna A deadpans her way through songs either about scoring drugs or just plain scoring, her ponytail emoting far more than her stylised delivery.

The Donnas are fun-punk minimalists who’ve cut to the quick of rock and, in their haiku-like way, say more about, y’know, stuff, than the ponderous mewlings of serious bands ever do. Museum pieces, in more ways than one.

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