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Gig Review: Clementine Valentine at Whammy Bar

Clementine Valentine 
Whammy Bar
Saturday 16 September

Photographs by Álvaro Fernández
Words by Anonymous bFM Volunteer

Clementine and Valentine Nixon have returned and we couldn’t be more pleased.  Stripping the Purple Pilgrims title after four years to releaseThe Coin that Broke the Fountain Floor under the new moniker Clementine Valentine, the sisters are back and better than ever.  

Playing at Whammy Bar, interdisciplinary artist i.e. crazy took the stage in a flurry of radio static and political samples wearing a David Byrne-esque suit,  automatically commanding the attention of the packed bar. Confronting in nature  with lyrics of reclaiming one’s body paired with feedback, Frances Libeau ushers in the new wave of riot grrrl fit for 2023. Fans of Grecco Romank will love the  arresting vocals reminiscent of Patti Smith which demand to be heard over the  gothic synth and uncompromising stage presence. Libeau told Under The Radar  that “there is potential for all human life to be both creative and destructive”, and  this set embodied just that. Bringing even more rawness to their album Country Justice when playing live, i.e. crazy is an act not to be missed. 

As the clock strikes ten, the harsh red light from i.e. crazy’s set fades to blue for Clementine Valentine. The night takes a turn to the ethereal while the sisters softly  sway to the ambient sounds floating from the stage, something familiar to fans of  Purple Pilgrims. The audience is transported to the Roadhouse bar in Twin Peaks,  feeling as though Julee Cruise is serenading them - as Rolling Stone described, their presence is “a thing of quiet majesty". Shortly into their set, the edginess developed in their new record, The Coin that Broke the Fountain Floor, made an appearance. But not to fear, Clementine Valentine will never lose their signature  airiness ~ the sisters remain the musical equivalent of silk, flowing in the windless room.  

Clementine Valentine have embraced a more shoegaze style on their latest tour, a welcome addition to an already beautiful outfit. We could see them as Aotearoa’s response to Weyes Blood and Beach House, yet they bring their own nuances to the style. In the middle of their set, the previous ambience was joined by a poppy  element in the song Endless Night, which had the previously still and in-awe audience dancing along before being transported back to the celestial.  

With their twinkling synth, shoegaze guitar tones and haunting voices, witnessing  Clementine Valentine live felt like something of a dream, moving between the  ghostly and beautiful. An amazing show which has us even more excited about what the Nixon sisters have planned for their transformation into Clementine Valentine.