Freak Slug's glasses could give Iris Apfel a run for her moneyGeorgie Atkinson with permission for Varsity

If you’re anything like me, you soak up music recommendations like a pretty absorbent sponge. Hence, I found myself lacing up my Adidas Gazelles and pottering to London’s most painfully cool neighbourhood “Stokey” (Stoke Newington) to see Mancunian artist Freak Slug at The Waiting Room. Admittedly, my choice of an Aperol Spritz may have identified myself as a Clapham dweller but, despite my beverage blunder, I bedded down for a night of indie music bliss.

“Freak Slug represents a new wave in indie music”

Emerging on the scene in 2019, now under the labels Our House Online and Nice Guys, Freak Slug represents a new wave in indie music. After listening to her seminal EP Videos, it seemed clear to me that this was Manchester’s answer to Mitski. As the name suggests, Freak Slug is an intriguing artist. Her discography can only be described as the musical equivalent of a box of Liquorice Allsorts – conceptually, you do not want to enjoy it, but the sweetness enraptures, captivates and almost begs you to go back for more.

The evening was the first showcase from label Our House and included sets from Lilaac and lavender, which cast an almost cerulean hue over the night. Lilaac, whose lead singer resembled both the physical and sonic essence of London Grammar, had an enchanting sound, which was enough for me not to realise I had accidentally turned on my phone’s torch – a mortifying experience for all involved. While the band had the youthfulness and style of a collection of friends pottering around Camden Market, they also had a rich and mature sound that kept the room still and enraptured.

“Her discography can only be described as the musical equivalent of a box of Liquorice Allsorts”

The hidden gems of the evening were DJ duo lavender, who mixed with enviable ease and oozed an effervescent charm. It could just be my penchant for a decent set of CDJs but the pair’s skill at mixing in soul and hip hop classics seemed to create a warmth in the atmosphere unrelated to the soaring temperature outside. Them jumping up from the crowd between acts and deploying their single ‘peppermint’ elevated the evening, so it was a shame that most of the crowd didn’t take note of their work.

Freak Slug, also known as Xenya Genovese, slinked onto the stage in glasses that could give Iris Apfel a run for her money. Despite the potentially distracting nature of her spectacles, this paled in comparison to her captivating vocals, which, while reminiscent of Nilüfer Yanya, were less elegiac and more endearing.

An iconic riff was deployed halfway through the set that could only mean one thing: a cover of Joy Division’s ‘Disorder’ was on the setlist. Aside from producing a wave of anxiety – only because I foolishly use Joy Division’s album Transmission to revise – this sentimental nod to a fellow Mancunian band was a nice touch, demonstrating how Freak Slug has been pouring salt on the traditional indie music scene since 2019.


Mountain View

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As well as being mesmerised by Freak Slug herself, I felt that the sound of the evening exuded maturity and was supercharged with nostalgia. The track that demonstrated this the most was ‘Care’, where the repetition of lyrics almost became hypnotic. Other notable tracks included ‘27 club’ and ‘Alien Girl’, the latter being the perfect track to romanticise your walk around Mainsbury’s while attempting to find the last packet of whole grain pitta. The performance, albeit not as lengthy as I would have preferred, highlighted the siren-esque quality of the music and the whole evening.

Having played the Rising Stage at the Green Man Festival this year, Freak Slug is definitely an artist to watch. This has clearly been noted by others in the industry, with bands such as Jadu Heart lurking in the audience. Freak Slug’s Instagram bio states “Kissin slugs since childhood” and I can only wonder whether this is indie music’s answer to kissing a frog. If you fancy an adventure in Michaelmas, mark your calendar as Freak Slug is set to indulge her audience at The Shacklewell Arms on November 30, offering the indie interlude you just might need.