Singer-songwriter Kate Nash took the SLO Brewing Co. stage this past Tuesday night. | Brenna Swanston/Mustang News

Brenna Swanston
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Kate Nash paused between songs, soaked with sweat, out of breath and flashing a huge, genuine smile.

She stood still for once, breathing heavily, her forehead shining beneath a cluster of adhesive jewels and felt hearts. Dark mascara pooled beneath her eyes, and orange lipstick smeared down her chin. She donned a cream babydoll dress, floor-length rainbow shawl, fishnet nights and black elevator shoes.

The British singer commanded the SLO Brewing Co. stage with one overarching message: good, old-fashioned girl power has not died.

She approached the microphone and brushed a few strands of blue hair away from her mouth, making way to speak to her primarily female audience.

She began with an introduction, thick with British accent: “This is my girl band.”

Nash presented her lead guitarist, bassist and drummer, all dressed in short, lacy dresses and oxford shoes. Each took her own brief solo while Nash jumped and danced madly around the stage.

After introductions, she took a more serious tone and addressed all women in the audience who love playing music.

“There’s this statistical difference,” she said of gender proportions in the music industry, “and it’s just stupid.”

She went on to bash society’s suppression of women’s dreams and media’s objectification of the female body, amping up her audience before continuing to slam through her set of angsty British pop.

Nash appeared fiercely invested in her performance. When her music gained intensity, so did she — she clenched her fists, winding the microphone cable tightly around her arm. When the lyrics got angry, she bared her teeth, stomped her feet and flipped the bird. When they saddened, her face fell and she placed her hand over her heart, as if reliving whatever experience originally inspired her words.

The crowd ate it up.

Nash waved up a few audience members for a full-blown dance party onstage. She hugged, kissed, sang to and danced with them as if they had been friends for years.

Two hours earlier, Nash’s opener, D. Wing, took SLO Brew’s stage before an anxious, impatient crowd.

He was Nash’s DJ, who she later said was one of her “new favorite artists.” He assumed an awkward stage presence: eyes closed, stationary stance, his free hand fluttering between the jumpsuit tied around his waist and his side-slicked hair.

He sang a series of slow, rhythm-centric ballads, most accompanied by synth or acoustic guitar. His sound could not have contrasted more sharply with Nash’s.

Microbiology sophomore Kelly Iaquinta cracked jokes about the artist throughout his set. She even attempted to Google “D. Wing,” to no avail; she found results for a construction company, a restaurant, airplanes and even other musicians — but not the man onstage.

After D. Wing’s set, he and his accompanist stood and began to pack up their equipment.

“They literally immediately started looking like stagehands,” Iaquinta said.

When Nash finally assumed the stage, the crowd erupted with excitement. Old-timey sockhop-style videos played from a projector on the wall behind the stage as she and her band kicked pink balloons into their audience and got their show off the ground, singing and dancing passionately, filled with boundless energy.

The crowd knew every word to every song, most of which were odes to womanhood. Nash often introduced her tunes in a way that connected with her audience.

A few songs in, Nash presented “Free My Pussy.”

“This next song I wrote when I was kind of sad and frustrated,” she said. “I wrote it to piss people off and to challenge ideas.”

The song’s lyrics scathed “power-tripping” men and ended with a whole verse of meowing. Next up was “Fri-End?”

“This song is about shit friends,” Nash said. “If you’ve got shit friends, you should dump them.”

Nash continued her loud, punky set through her pep talk and onstage dance party, after which security cleared the stage of guests and Nash calmed down the concert’s tone.

Stagehands wheeled out a keyboard; Nash took up an acoustic guitar and wound down her show with several slower songs.

When it was time for the last tune, Nash attempted to sit down at her keyboard — only to recall that her elevator shoes did not fit under the instrument. Evidently, it had happened at the previous night’s show, as well.

“This is awkward,” she said. “Someone remind me tomorrow that my shoes don’t fit under the piano.”

Nash capped off the show on a bittersweet note with “Merry Happy,” as the audience loudly sang along.

She dragged out the end of the tune, teasing around the root note for as long as possible before it finally dissolved to a roar of applause. Even Iaquinta’s aversion to D. Wing had entirely dissolved by that point.

“I am girl-crushing so hard right now,” she said.

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