Archive for the ‘Live Review’ Category

The newest and certainly the most exciting kids on the Brighton promoter block, Dictionary Pudding, are offering up some lo-fi for one and all. So why the fuck not?

You would be forgiven for thinking Men Oh Pause – great band name by the way – were indiepopqueeriotgrrrlQI etc. The visual tropes are there: matching caps, turn-ups, charity shop gear. But you’d be wrong. Completely wrong. They are in fact an incredibly covert sound art troupe. Ostensibly they write songs, but they’re crafted with minimal drums. And by minimal we are talking agonisingly sparse, with lashings of dread goliath bass and deranged keys. There are some meanderings through doompop but it’s high-art manoeuvring all the way. The poor Fitzherberts’ fish take a battering.

There can be very few individuals who can get away with a Daisy Rock guitar with football stickers on it, but King of Cats frontman Max Levy is part of that micro-elite. KoC are absolutely feral tonight. Noise-indie in its very most literal sense. The rock rhythm section has been swapped for a trashy cheapo drum machine and synths, and is all the better for it. The lighter moments recall Casiotone For the Painfully Alone but with sooooooo much more alone, and painful. Again, in a good way.

The Middle OnesI don’t have a big sister, but if I did I’d want her to be one someone who could comfortably join The Middle Ones. An absolute charm offensive from the first note. Bands who laugh a lot are usually hiding something, usually a lack of rehearsal. Not TMO though. They are just having a fantastic time and it is wildly infectious. Superb harmonies throughout. There is a palpable sense of euphoria in the room. Lets just hope the Bristol/Norwich duo are back again before long.

No one would be too offended if I were to suggest the main reason people are here this evening is to see one of Frozy’s rare live exposés; and of course they deliver in spades. It’s quite a long set but they keep the crowd in a state of entrancement all the way. A number of ‘superfans’ sing along and it’s a tremendous summing up to fantastic summer evening. There is a slight sense of melancholy though. In that apparently Frozy members live in Brighton, New York and Amsterdam. So, perhaps it’s going to be quite some time before we see them again?

Bermuda Triangle is a weighty venue name. Whoever comes up with the lasting nick-name gets ten points. I nominate ‘muda-t’.

Muda-t is in a great location for the summers beginning. You can come out between bands and watch the sun go down. It’s all very lovely.

A dangerous thing having ‘dull’ in your band name. It leads to all manner of mimetic conclusions.  Fortunately Dull Knife traverse any dubious associations and get on with the gutsy americana wig-outs. They are a band defined by their lack of members. They have that two-piece psychic bond and wizard-like musicianship, and a welcome lack of high-tech noodling – although you suspect they’d rather like to. So why aren’t they the best band ever and stuff? They are just so damn mannerly. Songs this exciting should elicit more gusto no?

Much like Bad For Lazarus. Who phone in their performance as usual tonight. You suspect there is a heart of gonzo sleazy rhythm ‘n’ b(l)ooze going on but they just can’t be arsed with any of it. Which is of course total bollocks. BFL are probably the most dependably raucous band in town. They have that thing where everyone is vying for attention, which locks in your attention. Last time Brighton Noise saw them was supporting The Icarus Line. They are slightly more in control tonight – slightly – and they are all the better for it. They, er, rise to the occasion. Sorry.

So are Tigercub worth all the hype? Sure, why not. They have the songs, and they definitely have a thriving home support. Not that bands have adversaries. They did, but there’s no gang-mentality anymore. It’s all a bit postmodern now.

Tigercub know this. Which is why their songs divide equally into three fields: pleasantly-groovy-for-a-white-band-rock that really hones in the rhythm section; the weirder songs off Rated R; and what Tigercub do best: Pixiesnirvana nostalgic-but-its-new grungey stadium-fillers. One of which, ‘Mother’ even gets a singalong.

Having said that, In typical alt-rock tradition the audience resist putting too much effort in until the last song. Which of course isn’t the last song, you can’t have a launch party without an encore. Unfortunately, the house lights go up and half the crowd leave before they go back down again. Which is a shame as the band back and play a blinder! Rock ‘n’ roll eh? Mental.

 

* thanks to Sandie Levent for letting me use her excellent photographs.

There was a bit of a debate going on tonight. Are Crime Scene, Yeah! Serious, is it an art-prank or is it just good old fashioned shits-and-giggles? With bated breath we shall wait and see.

torsTORS make for a fantastic visual treat. It’s most likely unintentional, but they’ve modelled themselves on different eras of modernist America: last of the old-timers, thirties docker, fifties housewife and sixties leisurewearer. Which doesn’t lend many clues to the music. They are mid-Atlantic in their style. A canvas of indie with inflections of folk, blues and post rock – at times like a less foreboding I Like Trains. They meander between sinister minimalism and soothing calm with the greatest of ease. A lovely beginning to the evening.

Which could never – ever – under any circumstances be said about Fallow Deer. A product of their upbringing, the deermen know Their Libertines and Arctic Monkeys, but why couldn’t those bands be more like The Stooges? Well why? There is energy to spare and every inch of the stage is used. The band sing at the absolute limits of being in tune and trade off each other skilfully. Too many bands take themselves far too seriously. Being a bit scruffy and having fun is the main agenda here. It’s not like anyone is actually on the road to fame anyway.

Crime Scene YeahAlthough Crime Scene, Yeah! Are investing every calorie in their bodies in the pursuit of rabid celebrity. In answer to the earlier question, they seem to be serious enough, songs don’t just appear out the ether you know, but they are definitely in on the joke. Whether it’s a prank or not is unclear. What is clear, is the am-dram aesthetic is pushed past eleven and we will submit to their campcore. The bamboozled looks in the audience suggest brilliance or absurdity. The whole thing seems a satire of hyper-hipster electro-rock Shoreditchers. And if they aren’t worth taking the piss out of then who is?

Abattoir Blues

Abattoir Blues

It’s worms. The all singing, all dancing positive vibes Saturday alldayer at Green Door Store. The word ‘pop’ – as in indiepop – is being remorselessly banded about. In reality the bands are more on the indie-rock/shoegaze/alt-rock spectrum. There is a 20 minute set rule. Which er… rules! There’s no time for flab. Get on, get off, rock the fuck out etc.

I will admit. Yes, I missed Dog Legs. It honestly wasn’t my fault, mum. By all accounts they were a highlight of the day. Listening to their Bandcamp reveals that in fact are very indiepop, contradicting my above estimation… They are also rather good. Go on, ‘like’ them on Facebook and stuff.

King of Cats

King of Cats

‘Woozy’, that’s all you need to know about Bayy. They are stunningly accomplished considering how young they are. It’s a tightly run ship. Every section in every song has something interesting to offer. Giving super MBV worship a good name. Keep up the good work chaps.

Abattoir Blues come across slightly thuggish in comparison. Clearly an audience favourite they inspire great sing-alongs and somehow make the room feel a lot drunker than five in the afternoon. Partly down to their curiously magnetic Pollard-ish frontman. The girl from Bayy gets up to do a duet at the end. It’s like Sonny & Cher are still alive.

Playing as a full band tonight Trust Fund don’t fail to impress. Lots of nice little songwriting flourishes like just bass and vocals playing – take note kids, you need good bass. There is some fiendish lead guitar too.

Joey Four

Joey Four

King of Cats are on particular form at the moment. Probably the most remarkable moment of the day is when frontman Max stands in the audience playing solo harmonium just screaming his little heart out. See kids, that’s where emo should have gone in 00s. On an unrelated note. I was thinking, who would be in arch-supergroup King of Cunts??? Liam Gallagher on vocals, that’s a no-brainer. A stout rhythm section of Lars Ulrich and Gene Simmons for that belligerent capitalist flavor. Bafflingly grumpy old Lou Reed and pampered overgrown child Courtney Love on guitars. Then Chris Brown for misogynist raps and Alice Cooper doing interviews. Indeed a fine collection of absolute cunts.

Joey Four stick out like a sore-thumb tonight. Getting all post-artycore . All kerayzee effects and iterant basslines. And you cannot beat the Eighties aerobics cocaine mafia hipster slob look. Ten out of ten for getting Gareth Campesinos on drum loops too.

Tyrannosaurus Dead

Tyrannosaurus Dead

It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to call Tyrannosaurus Dead ‘local heroes’. Apparently they haven’t played any of tonight’s set before? You would never know. The band seem at home and fully deploy their brilliant male/female vocal dynamic.

Magic Gang are probably the most forthright nineties alt rock today. Yet oddly ladish? Veering close to Weezer with a season ticket, they have some great three point non-harmonies. Also, playing your songs too slowly is a gutsy art and they pull it off. They do somewhat ruin it with the Arctic Monkeys-ish last song which creates a noticeable schism in the audience.

Spook School

Spook School

What the hell is going on with Edinburgh’s Spook School? Up front you have three feisty androgynous indie replicants giving it some proper energy. Their drummer and between song spokesperson however, is a bizarre, slightly creepy working mens club act ranting about urine, sweat and seagulls. Their sheer brilliance overrides all though, and they are the only band to do actual Heavenly style girl/boy call and response. They are also the only band today whose members noticeably ‘go mental’. They are very polite these pop kids.Much has been said about Playlounge throughout the day. Can they live up to the hype? Of course. Bolstered by a double-take inducing guitar sound and stormtrooper drumming the two-piece highly entertain. The lack of bass is an acquired taste though. If they fixed that they’d sound like the end of the world.

Playlounge

Playlounge

And rounding off the day are Sheffield’s Best friends. You detect a lot of animosity between them. There’s a palpable tension on stage and they nearly break up at one point after two of them start a fisticuffs.

Of course none of this is true, sadly. BF are the weakest band of the day. They could have benefitted from just a 20 minute slot rather than a headliners 30 minute one. A little more variety in their songs and particularly in the vocal delivery they’d be great. There is also a slight hint of 00s NME indie going on that feels at odds with the rest of the day.

So that was Worms. Incredible value for four quid. Everyone walked off happy having seen some great bands and many bought rare vinyl from the distro. Props to all the people at Reeks of effort, Be Nothing and You Trip Me Up. Another one soon perhaps?

King of catsLast time this reviewer saw King of Cats was in the corner of a living room. Somehow, the cordial vibe and close proximity of the audience gives Sticky Mikes that feel this evening. There is something immediately likable about KoC. Whether it’s the militant anti-fashion, the rough-around-the-edges performance or the idiosyncratic between song banter. They completely stretch the quiet/loud idiom to its logical brittle bone fragile/astonishingly anguished conclusion. Frontman Max’s screaming belongs in primal scream therapy than rather than any musical context, and pushes them far past healthy indie-rock behaviour. Their debut album is coming out “god knows when… soon”. Watch this space.

ShoppingThere are great bands out there whose influence is disproportionate to their accolade. Vanguard punk-funk monolith ESG are just that. Shopping of course, are far too naturally brilliant to be just a clone of any band, but it would seem unlikely they’d exist without them. ‘Tight’, and dare we say it ‘angular’, are adjectives every band wants lavished upon them. If you were to take those away from Shopping there would be precious little left. So all encompassing is their machine-like elegance. There are many ‘haircuts’ on stage and a cowbell. There is a worry it’s all about to get a bit hip, but the bands sheer exuberance overrides any pretentions of coolness. Bizarrely, their uncommon speed-ups and slow-downs have a country kind of twinge. Do you think they know?

PAWSPAWS are from Glasgow, Scotland. A country possibly on the brink of independence. They don’t need independence though. They are indie enough… INDIE ROCK*

A power-trio in the traditional sense. There’s no flab and no meandering in PAWS. It’s only natural to expect a band to be heavier live but this is ridiculous. Are the songs usually this fast? The drummer actually goes and lies down after the set. We get some welcome tracks from 2012s Cokefloat – seriously, how is ice cream floating in Coke a good idea? – but it’s the new tracks that really hit the mark tonight. The new material traverses pretty acoustic-ish numbers and low-slung churning sludge rock. There is a palpably excited reaction.  The album comes out on May. The band swear blind they are touring straight after. Wisdom would suggest not missing them.

*Sorry.

So it’s now an etched in stone tradition, the Riots Not Diets valentines day ball. Like valentines day, it’s once a year, has huge potential for fun and is a perfect excuse to get wasted. Unlike valentines day, it isn’t a colossal stress, expense and unnecessary – you can, and should, be romantic all the time. And you can come here on your own.

Remember riot grrrl? That’s because it never went away. It simply never got as big as it could have. But it could. It could happen tonight? In this bizarre school disco community hall. Take it away grrrls…

Humousexual are not the prettiest ladies you’ve ever seen. They lack even the vaguest of feminine characteristics. I’m not one to judge though. It’s Brighton and you can act express yourself however you like, that’s why I live here. Humousexual – fantastic name – are what happens if you take C86 and replace the rhythm section with a hummingbird playing Neu. ALL THE TIME. Formula gets a bad rap. If it ain’t broken don’t fix it. The er… ‘guys’ in the band know what they are doing, the audience loves it, stick to what you know best. Even if it’s more stripped down than an army inspection.

Big JoanieFrom the get go Big Joanie are a total indie punk charm offensive. Far too out there to pique Phil Spector’s incarcerated interests. We need to wormhole them back to the 60s to fuck shit up. More bands should act like superheroes. The set is well padded out with covers tonight but the highlight is the two chord droneathon calisthenics of TLC’s R&B classic ‘No Scrubs’. There is no conceivable way that should work. Yet it does. It encompasses everything a good cover should be. Everyone is thoroughly impressed.

Not RightFor all intents and purposes Not Right have a total car crash set tonight. Their guitarist cancelled last minute, the drums keep falling apart, surreptitious feedback and the pedals don’t work.  None of this matters a jot.  What makes their set so exhilarating to watch is the pared back rawness of it all sans the guitar and the on-going commentary by uberfemsch Ruth Pearce. Attacking every riot grrrl trope from written lipstick polemic over her torso to hyper LGB-eTc. soapboxing and a cards-down acknowledgement of middle-class guilt. There’s even a call-and-response “we’ll shout tory, you shout SCUM”. Trans-Socialist utopia beckons.

 

Raviolli Me AwayRavioli Me Away are a much more refined spectacle. They didn’t have spiky new wave in the heyday of the Ottoman Empire, but if they did – they might have? – it would have sounded like this. With the best up-right drumming since Mo Tucker, charity shop keyboards and that microsurgery ’81 bass sound you cannot really go wrong.  And they don’t. We get a celebration of all things femme-rock from new wave to now. They even lightly drug us all in incense. It’s all in the details people. And they are far too cool and aware to start belly-dancing, thank god.

I’m at Brighton Rocks. Lout’s Friday night four band bash. Always a good laugh. A chance to catch the zeitgeist, or at least see the new crop of bands. There is usually something pretty mental/completely unprecedented on display. This evening is no exception.

Friday Night ChorusUp first, it’s the definitive format P.P.P.P.Power trio: matching shirts, Jam influence, Fender instruments, lots of oh oh ohs. Friday Night Chorus run the gamut from new wave; to that 90s new wave of new wave thing; to that naughties new wave revival. It’s all precision riffs and short songs. There is that laddish yet vulnerable theme running throughout too. They are either way ahead of, or hideously behind the times – delete as appropriate. Which is a shame as they are pretty good. Certainly deserving of being further up the bill.

Pink NarcissusIt’s completely impossible to avoid the question, “what the hell are Pink Narcissus all about?” You wonder how they got it together in the first place? The bassist clearly wants to play funk-metal; the guitarist likes Tool; the drummer plays like Bonham but hits like Ringo; and the singer has clearly studied at the school of Iggy, but actually come across as a less feral, less art-scene Martin Tomlinson from Selfish Cunt. Bizarrely, it sounds a bit like Adrenaline era Deftones. You wonder if the band have noticed this, has anyone told them? They are highly entertaining though. The singer tears his vest off. fashions a blindfold and pantomimes about banging into things. And why not.

The Gaa Gaa'sIt is clearly not The Gaa Gaa’s night. They get their first song out of the way without too much trouble. Then they – this is a very important lesson about rehearsal folks – forget the intro to the next one. What follows is the most blood curdling 90 seconds of anyone’s life, as they try to teach it to each other. The drummer could win an Oscar for the brave face he’s putting on. Bafflingly, they then launch into Joy Divisions ‘Transmission’. If this is a prank, it’s a really good one. It’s probably not though. The rest of the set arrives with a certain nervousness to it you could say. The tunes are a mish-mash of every band from Manchester. It works sometimes, not so much others. Taught rhythm section with shoegaze guitar just doesn’t make sense. At least not tonight.

Ghosts of Future PastIt’s blatantly obvious that tonight belongs to Ghosts of Future Past. Making an especially big effort for their EP launch. Dressed in matching black double breasted jackets and sailing around with much confidence. The audience are clearly loving it. Something weird happens during the into to ‘Friedrich Nietzsche’, something that the crowd cannot explain. Band are playing goth music!?!?!? Not the indie-with-hair-dye of Savages, but actual Bauhaus goth. It’s really good, and really refreshing. Apparently Brighton had a goth-scene a few years ago. No one believes a word of it. ‘Another Western Unsolved Spree’ has shades of Morricone about it and is introduced as ‘sounding worse than it is’. Can an artform composed of sound, sound worse than it is? Are GoFP ushering in the new wave of meta-physical post-punk? Possibly. They aren’t short of interesting turns – the lead guitarist actually wrestles the sound of gamelan bells out of his instrument. They finish, the audience want more but t’s curfew. Such is life.

PLUM + PHANTOM RUNNERS + PATCHWORK NATIVES @ BLIND TIGER CLUB, BRIGHTON 29/11/13

Do you like ‘maff’ rock? It’s really good, honest – but perhaps not for everyone. Patchwork Natives are clearly pretty tasty musicians and are somewhat comfortable letting you know it. It’s wholly authentic and the math heads will suitably drool.  That is slightly the problem though.  Asides from a detour through 80s session-muso funk and an amusing jazz section, it doesn’t veer from familiar territory.  It’s also difficult to shake the fact that you really need more than three musicians to do instrumental rock with a bit of refinement.

Familiar territory isn’t a concept weighing down The Phantom Runners. They start the set with a cheesy programed beat while the drummer sits with nothing to do. Thirty seconds later the band fully burst in. Does that make sense? No. Does it work? Bizarrely, yes. They dress like truckers yet sound like Pains of Being Pure at Heart then Simple Minds then a bit like Vampire Weekend without the nauseating bits. Just when it seems to be getting safe, they bring on Titus Taylor to do some rhymes over it??? Indie and rapping NEVER works. Except now.  Why aren’t these guys bigger?

Plum played an unforgettable set Sticky Mike’s in the summer. She had just broken her harm and had to play a hastily adapted version of her set. She was clearly spaced from all the pain-killers and talking nonsense between songs.  It was a complete charm offensive from start to finish. Tonight she is fighting fit and lucid but no less endearing. It takes a few tracks for the engineer to get it together but the quality of the beats shines through. Although clearly adept at quiet folktronica and chill-out, it’s the colossal battering tunes that shine tonight.  Especially the glitchy industrial meltdown at the end.  Rousing stuff!

Although 12 years old Spirit of Gravity is still getting the punters in, and there is a tangible feeling of excitement tonight.  Ostensibly avant-garde music promoters, they remain fresh within that oft-humourless medium, by mixing the serious, the ridiculous and the ridiculously good.  Like tonight.

Stereocilia is London-based sound-artist John Scott.  His set is composed of layers of soft harmonics and interweaving chords that harbour post-rock, then some tasty 70s space-rock.  At one stage the drones and chiming guitars can’t help but evoke an Indian flavour.  Just as the audience are completely hypnotised into submission, he is gone.  Mission accomplished.

One of the highlights from any Spirit of Gravity event is the Electrocrèche.  A selection of ever-revolving charity shop keyboards set up for the audience to abuse between acts.  You can either create the most beautiful cacophony of your life, or take masochistic delight in knowing that repeatedly hitting the highest key over and over is being broadcast round the building.  Playing the Electrocrèche does highlight how much effort SoG put in.  Suits you sir!

There comes a point in everyone’s life where you want to watch two fully frown men jump up and down making astonishingly agonised bird impressions through contact-mics in front of a radiating goose lamp. That somehow, is exactly what DOGEESESEEGOD do.  Interestingly, from the vantage point of that odd corner-space in Green Door Store the room started to smell of dog food.  Was this intentional?  The show starts off very funny, but after ten minutes it becomes painfully clear that only the bands mates are still laughing, after 15 minutes they mercifully stop.

After all that bluster comes the more measured disorder of ARC.  What really sets the local improv mainstays apart from many of their contemporaries – asides from their sheer breadth of skill – is the subtle use of electronics.  There was a real feeling of community while they were playing, as every abstract effect produced a ‘what was that?’ reaction in the audience, provoking a shared sense of puzzlement.  Which when you consider the trio of violin, double-bass and cello are have been making music since the 80s it’s impressive they aren’t taking a safer approach.  They perplexing end with a country hoe-down?

That’s the good thing about Spirit of Gravity.  You are always kept guessing.

The Icarus Line – The Hope, Brighton 02/11/13

It’s Saturday Night, the storms we were promised haven’t arrived and one of the most quietly notorious bands of the 00s is due on stage.  Where the hell is everyone?  If there was a local band playing they’d probably be quite happy with this crowd but for The Icarus Line???  Should be rammed.

It’s probably the most laborious rock ‘n’ roll cliché there is, and it was almost certainly just a spilled drink; but honestly, the room started smelling pungently of Jack Daniels when Bad For Lazarus came on.  It is fitting however as they really are very rock ‘n’ roll in every way it should be: tight but chaotic, looking like a gang, and (judging my how much uncalculated swinging about is going on) they are clearly unafraid of hurting their gear, themselves or each other.

They have an uncanny knack for using some of rock’s less cool tropes but making them sound amazing.  There’s veneer of camp-glam draped over everything and they somehow even make cock-rock sound valid, in a song that must surely be called ‘We get It On’?

Great Saturday night entertainment.  More bands should have bonkers cabaret organ, take note.

If you really get down to it, all rock music is just the blues – a fact that kind of makes a mockery of the MOBO awards.  The Icarus Line are obviously a million miles away from being ‘urban’, but what they definitely now are is a blues band.  A feral, psychedelic, drone-obsessed, unbearably tense blues band, but all the insignia is there.

TIL are obviously not a band wanting to rest on their laurels. We get only one song tonight that isn’t from this year’s Slave Vows.  A ballsy move for a band with such an impressive back catalogue.  Do they carry it off?  Just.  They have a formula: segue every song with swathes of feedback or delay > creepy/groovy bassline > story of debauched behaviour > build until you cannot take the strain of it anymore > go absolutely mental > repeat.

There’s so many twists and turns throughout you can hardly believe they play for only 45 minutes.  It’s a powerful performance and exhausting to watch – in a good way.  Safe to assume everyone will sleep well tonight.