Queen Zee // Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds // 12.2.19

Queen Zee // Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds // 12.2.19

Queen Zee refuse to be defined in any sense. From their blatant finger up to binarism and heteronormativity, to their blending of sound from different musical backgrounds, Queen Zee are a long awaited revolution of sound and society. Lifting a bitingly relevant release of social commentary on a bed of brilliant guitar riffs and furious drums, lead singer Zena Davine infects every person in the room with an electric energy, which serves as explanation for the band’s explosion out of Liverpool’s underground scene and into the spotlight. Hailed by Iggy Pop as “strange people from Liverpool…they’re dirty, they look a little weird, but they rock like crazy”, Queen Zee have a dedicated fan following and a spectacular onstage presence which Hyde Park Book Club struggles to contain.  

The band walks on stage to loud excitement from the audience, followed by lead singer Zee in an outfit that lasts approximately 30 seconds— before the jacket is removed to reveal only skin, and the words “EAT ME” written in permanent marker on the waistline of Zee’s trousers. The band launches straight into ‘Victim Age’, and the audience burst into movement. “This is a song about feeling alone” announces Zee, before moving into ‘Loner’, the most recently released single from the album. The repetitive chorus really gets the audience going, and the band are visibly enjoying themselves as Zee dances about on stage, hitting mic stands as she is caught up in the energy of the room.

“This next one is a love song… about Satan,” she quips provocatively, before the fast drums of Lucy Fur cue a tongue in cheek song about female sexuality. Zee gives a shoutout to “gender fuckery” and to young trans and non binary kids before beginning ‘Boy’, a song about her experiences as a trans woman. As the band moves into their first single from the album, ‘Hunger Pains’, the catchy introductory guitar riff sends waves of energy through the audience, and the venue is filled to the ceiling with the noise sensation of Queen Zee. “I want to do this for the rest of my life” sings Zee repeatedly in the chorus of ‘Sass or Die’, one of their oldest and favourite songs.

As the quietest and shortest song on the album, ‘Anxiety’, begins, Zee clears a circle in the audience and invites one of its members to ballroom dance, encouraging each person in the audience to find their own dance partner. Before long, everyone in the room—an eclectic mix of old school punks and young queer kids— is dancing with one another.

As Zee returns to the stage, the opening lyrics to ‘Porno’ are prefaced with the line “This song is about my disappointing sex life”. As soon as the song ends, the band dives head-first into ‘Sissy Fists’; the audience rallies, passionately singing back “I’ll raise my sissy fists I’ll raise them!”. The closing track on their album, the brilliant ‘I Hate Your New Boyfriend’, rounds off the set, which finishes with an epic guitar breakdown in which every band member gives everything they’ve got.

“The last time we did a gig in Leeds I didn’t get to stick around and greet people afterwards, because I was spending 5 hours in A&E after falling off the stage during the last song,” Zee casually mentions, before lightheartedly complimenting Leeds for its A&E. What’s more punk than needing stitches after a gig?

The room is buzzing after the band’s performance, and the audience is left breathless at the intensity of the performance which Queen Zee have just given on the opening night of their tour. Queen Zee demand the world’s attention with their infectious queer punk energy: they’re noisy, angry, provocative— and they’re here to be heard.

Fin Webb