Live Review: Mega Bog at The Lexington, 16/8/23

Erin Birgy brings lo-fi pop, dystopian malaise and a whole new album to London's Lexington

The world is in ecological freefall and it has been weighing heavy on LA-based singer-songwriter Erin Birgy’s psyche. Performing as Mega Bog for over a decade now, she is in London to showcase tracks from her seventh album, End Of Everything

Beset with personal trauma in recent years and with the backdrop of blazing California wildfires, these new songs are alive with dystopian imagery (“City skies turn black in the daytime / I see a burnt-up alligator” – from ‘Anthropocene’). The five-piece band inhabit the dark mood brilliantly at London’s Lexington with driving synths, atmospheric guitar work and high-pitched shrieking. Sporting blonde hair and black lipstick, and dancing like a frantic marionette, Erin Birgy has the poetic lyricism of Cate Le Bon (whom she supported on tour last year), the witchyness of Jenny Hval, and the cool command of Debbie Harry

The compact, hour-long set is almost entirely comprised of the new album. You might expect there to be some disappointment from the crowd at a lack of older material, especially considering this is Mega Bog’s first headline performance in London since 2019, but the enthusiasm is palpable as the room meets new cuts such as ‘Cactus People’ and ‘The Clown’. However, there is still just enough time for fan-favourite ‘Station To Station’ from 2021’s excellent Life, And Another, and ‘Diary Of A Rose’ from Dolphine (2019)which precipitates a silent reverence during the final breakdown of the song.

The world may be burning, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun – “If you don’t dance we’re gonna freak the f*ck out!” Birgy yells with a grin before launching into a raucous rendition of ‘Love Is’. Despite the stark subject matter, many of these songs exhibit a real pop sensibility, a joyousness in the music itself, and it is apparent that the band are having just as good a time as the crowd are. 

The set closes with an extended, cinematic version of ‘Complete Book Of Roses’. It’s an intense and compelling highlight of the night, and the brooding gothic drama of the performance would be enough to make Nick Cave proud. The band finish their set and Birgy immediately goes over to hold her bandmate in a long, smiling, closed-eye embrace. The past couple of years may have taken their toll, but through the catharsis of her music, the audience is left with the impression that she will always be able to find a way to heal – “We’ll open up and find a piece of what we were”. 

Photo credit: Robin Little / Getty