Live Zone

Ashnikko / Hemlocke Springs, Rock City, Nottingham, 5th December 2023


Ashnikko is different. Ashnikko is a must see. She is like a jack in the box on speed on stage. Part ace dancer, part contortionist, part acrobat and part 100 metre runner.

You cannot take your eyes off that electric blue barnet and her wiry frame covering every inch of the Rock City stage for 18 songs in a truly electrifying performance.

Ashnikko’s styling is inspired by Tokyo street fashion. Tonight she looks like a cross between a fierce Princess warrior and a Zombie move extra – she looks fabulous.

Ashton Nicole Casey (27) aka Ashnikko is a singer, rapper, and songwriter from North Carolina. Nottingham is the fourth date of the UK leg of her Weedkiller World Tour, named after her debut album which dropped in the summer of this year.

The tour visits Asia, Oceania, North America and Europe and started in March 2023 in Japan and will end on December 11th in Dublin.

The focus for this 90 minute show is on faster tracks and lots of movement from Ashnikko and her brace of dancers. There’s really only one slower song, “Dying Star” which comes at seven songs in, to calm things down and allow her voice to be the main focus.

Alone on stage, no dancing or movement and lights up for this one. By the way, she has a very good voice…


Like attracts like they say, and there is plenty of eccentric styling in the audience tonight, some mirroring the headliner’s blue hair (still cannot work out if it is a wig or not?) and the cut. Shall I try it, I mused during the gig, but I’d end up look more like a demented Smurf.

On stage just after 9pm, opening with a short intro and then into “You Make Me Sick”, “Stupid” –  2019 single “Stupid” with (Yung) Baby Tate made an impact via Tik Tok and went platinum in the US and Canada – and “Working Bitch”, the latter two songs from her third EP, “Hi It’s Me”, from 2019.

Her energy levels do not dip all night, and she must be as fit as a butcher’s dog or on several pints of Red Bull every gig (other energy drinks are available!). She made me tired just watching this whirling dervish do her thing.

After her opener she reveals that the ceiling of the venue is too low to hang flowers and greenery that is usually part of the venue set dressing for the tour.

The stage is completely clear, no equipment or microphone stands to be seen, and with just two dancers and Ashnikko up there – she is singing to tracks – there are no instruments or musicians needed. The only “production” is a large banner the width of the stage with her name on it.

At her Alexandra Palace gig in London, she had a big video screen on stage and she emerged from a giant egg to start the show, plus various props that a bigger stage would allow. None of that present at Rock City, a smaller club gig. But it didn’t matter. Nor did the fact she sang to tracks and no band…




“Invitation” is a song from the start of her career – from her second EP “Unlikeablereleased in November 2018 – and she tells us it is in the set for every gig because of how much she cares about it.

Next up, “Worms” and then “Cry” prompt much dancing and phones in the air to capture the moment with some wobbly video footage.

Halfway through “Halloweenie Medley” her dancers don a freaky head/mask thing that is similar to one of my bonkers nightmares after eating cheese late at night! The next song on the set list was crossed out and missed out: “Moss King”. Not sure if she included it on other shows on this tour.


She delivers “Slumber Party” in the first half of the set and “Daisy” as her final song, both were singles taken from her debut mixtape, “Demidevil” released in January 2021

Hard to label Ashnikko’s music, so I will not try. She however has called her stuff, “angry, punk, hip hop, sad-girl-feminist, bubblegum, poo-poo music”.

She is well worth the admission price and a real one off artist based on tonight’s performance.

If you added a band, maybe some backing singers, a sparkly stage set and some bells and whistles befitting a big venue, this show would be at home in an arena setting for this under-rated rising star.

The gig had that buzz and special vibe about it that makes you wonder if in a few years time, when she may well be doing the arenas, the just under a couple of thousand of us, will one day be saying to our mates: “I saw her at Rock City before she was huge”. Time will tell…



The 2,000 capacity venue not quite sold out but close, with support act, the wonderfully named hemlocke springs (stylized lower case) kicking things off. Singing to tracks with just a drummer on stage with her.

Her gritty lo-fi/indie pop held the crowd’s attention, and she confessed after the first song “Heavun”, that she couldn’t spell. Not really, that was a feeble joke on my part.

She actually said she was not used to playing to full rooms. Energetic in her dancing, she got the audience on side from the off; waving their hands from side to side and staying put for all eight songs of her very pleasant 30 minute set.

Hemlocke Springs

The 25-year-old, real name Isimeme “Naomi” Udu, is from North Carolina; a singer, songwriter and record producer who first gained attention in 2022 via Tik Tok for her song “Girlfriend” – which pops up as her last song in the set, straight after the title song from her EP “Going…Going…Gone!”,  which was released in September this year.

Third song in tonight she got a decent response to her Grimes-like debut single “Gimme All Ur Luv” [from May 2022], which notched up more than a million Spotify streams, followed up by the release of “Girlfriend” that same November, which also won her in excess of one million Spotify streams. Third single “Stranger Danger!” (Jan 2023) was second up tonight.

Nottingham set list

This year she collaborated with UK producer Burns on a few tracks. Fourth track tonight “Enknee1”, was a single which dropped in August.

She has a quirky Kate Bush-style falsetto in her delivery, and overall is well worth the 1800 seconds of her time on stage tonight – a solid warm-up for the inimitable Ashnikko.

Hemlocke Springs


Photos: Andrea Bottino

Words: Les Howard


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