In the beginning,
There were three excited individuals who had tickets to a 12-hour hootenanny in Bristol that provided a rich palette of sounds ranging from the recognisable and expected to the jaw-dropping and terrifying. This was a no holds barred event that spanned the best bits of the musical venn diagram, With 23 performances scheduled across three stages in two of Bristol’s finest venues we knew that it was going to be a blowout and blowout it was!
Arbiter Titan had convinced our Attorney to join us some weeks ago and had been gently adding coal to the fire of excitement by sharing videos of certain bands that had caught his eye. As per usual I maintained my policy of going in ‘earblind’ and avoided all such videos at all costs. In the coming days before the gig The Attorney made a half-joke about The Arbiter preparing itineraries for us and knowing exactly where we needed to be and when – in short, we didn’t need to worry about a thing. This was the third night for us this week and so far the bar had been set high, we had had Crack Cloud on Monday, WarmDuscher on Thursday and now it was time to go out in style with as many bands as we could get around!
The day finally arrived and truth be told I had a banging migraine Saturday morning, I was suitably livid and drugged myself up and went to hide in a corner until the latest possible moment that I could leave, eventually and still somewhat unable to operate my human body I gathered the rest of the party and we set off to Bristol excited, apprehensive and suitably equipped. True to The Attorney’s comical prediction Arbiter Titan had indeed prepared us handy pocket sized itineraries of all the bands and had a mental list of where and when we must be in order to enjoy the most music possible.
Upon arrival we took the time to get some drinks and enjoy some light confectionary to set the mood for the long night ahead, the weather was warm with a calm breeze and there as a bustling crowd of fellow music lovers sat outside the Exchange that provided an inviting and pleasant atmosphere.
When we eventually decided to check things out the first band we caught were;
An array of smart dressed gentlemen donned us with a raw take of Americana fused church-house indie rock, it was a real amalgamation that followed on so well from WarmDuscher, it was as if we had never left. The energy of the set grew more and more into a sixties infused garageband direction with throaty and desperate vocals and rich valvey guitar. The occasional use of piano and organ provided a deeper soundscape to a group that had the capacity to sound like they were genuinely lifted from the sixties and planted right in front of you. Overall it was a great set, especially to get us into the swing of the evening, it was also nice to see them stick around for the entire night and enjoy themselves!
After their set we headed on over to The Stag & Hounds where I was able to catch some
A trio featuring two well-kept moustaches and a long-haired drummer who really lets team moustache down (I jest) I walked in on them mid-set and instantly gravitated towards the sharp, jagged corners of the industrial scale machinery sound that they were generating in the corner. It took me right back to when I saw Housewives open for Parquet Courts and I loved it, a sort of anti-playing that almost parodies post-punk and industrial minimalist type stuff whilst remaining in itself, brilliant. It reminded me of when the fire alarm used to go off in school on a drill, it was almost unbearable to listen to but within it was a calming rhythm that you could lock onto like a lifeboat during a major shipping disaster, the chaos can go on around you but you’ve found a safe place. I really hope I get to see them again soon!
Just as I had become acquainted with their level of output I was whisked away by the party upstairs to a wood-cladded room sprinkled with Chesterfields. It was like I was at an old posh uncle’s party and he had told us that his niece was about to perform in the billiards room so we all had to sojourn there. In fact, I do hope there’s a posh uncle that can one day introduce the next act that we caught which was…
A total contrast to what I had just witnessed downstairs and indeed what was leaking through the door, trying to lure me back ‘No Bo Gritz I must see this act!’ ‘No, come join us Duke, come enjoy our thrashing noise’ – ARRRGHH – I resisted. If anything the intermission would help level things off… relax. What took place before us was an ethereal and surreal experience, a small human lady was concocting a variety of motions akin to a tree in the wind to an electrical narrative of soothing layers and innocuous plonkings as she manipulated her voice to mimic that of a demi-god or forest demon. There was a strong fantasy element to the sounds and sights before me that made me think of an endless ancient woodland in which I was free to explore and make friends. It was like finding an oasis in the part of your brain that appreciates music, a place to sit down and unwind with mystical creatures and wood-nymphs before exposing yourself to the harsh desert occupied by nomadic guitarists and dastardly noise makers.
We took in all we could before relocating to the Exchange again in anticipation of the next act who we had all earmarked as one that we had to see…
Holy fuck balls! The Arbiter had slipped up and played me one track by S.D.C prior to Triptych so I had some idea of the sound that they produced but that little teaser failed to prepare me for the psychedelic journey of progalicious tunical adventure with an absolute maniac of a bassist, a real magician that bandied around the stage absorbed in the sheer funk that he was so easily creating with his dancing fingers. Everything was on fire and the buzz I was experiencing was perfect, the pace never dropped during their entire performance and they didn’t miss a beat. They had a real energy about them with a sound that wouldn’t be out of place at Woodstock if someone were to invent a time-machine just for bands (to go to Woodstock…) they were explorative and exciting and well worth many repeat listens.
We decided to stick with the acid-guitar action and stay around for…
Arbiter Titan is stepping in with his words for these guys… just let it be known I thought that it was like taking a ride on Satan’s lasertag rollercoaster (and I mean that in the best possible sense)
This bands name, referencing Indian Shamans who show their spiritualism through nakedness,
immediately conjures up images of eastern psychedelia and exoticism and they certainly deliver
(minus the nakedness thankfully)
Driven onward by a heavy, ominous, rolling, engine like rhythm section, the guitarist effortlessly
weaves his way over the top, playing intricate motifs which, if you let them, will carry you away to a
place of heady beauty only for you to be awoken and pulled back to the here and now by a dark,
doom laden riff battering your senses, a feeling only exacerbated by the effect laden chant like
qualities of the vocals
This rollercoaster of emotion makes for an alluringly unnerving ride, taking you from feelings of
almost spiritual elation through to apprehension of an as of yet hidden “something” you can’t quite
put your finger on. Calling their music songs is perhaps a misnomer; they are incantations, prayers
for the lost, salvations of the soul.
An experience that leaves you feeling slightly out of focus for a while afterwards, Baba Naga’s live
show is a thing of perilous beauty definitely worthy of your attention (devotion?)
Swedish Death Candy and Baba Naga had exhausted us with their awesome mind-melding abilities so we took some time to rehydrate and discuss our adventure so far. There was still a fantastic buzz around the two venues with an eclectic and colourful group of people coming together under the unity inducing umbrella of music. It was nice to be part of this blended consciousness, to hear others talk about their experiences of what they had just watched. It made me realise just how unique each performance is to each and every audience member, sure we rise up to a great intangible plain of connected love for the performance as it takes place, but the thoughts and feelings produced from us by the sounds we’re perceiving are all our own, we see and feel things that no one other person will ever experience. It’s a beautiful thing and a powerful energy that we should not take for granted and should protect at any given opportunity.
Finally recharged and ready to go we proceeded to The Stag & Hounds for the remainder of our evening, as we walked in I was instantly drawn and bewildered by the outrageous but hypnotic anti-music that was fuelling an arced crowd so tightly packed that they moved as a single entity. It was none other than…
I couldn’t get a clear view of the band but I bore witness to a sound that I can only describe how I’d imagine a perfectly symmetrical but horrendously violent collapse of modern civilisation at the hands of robots made of betamax video players. The… ‘singer’ was incoherently scrowling what sounded like the same phrase over and over, like a damaged fax machine seeking revenge over an explosion of drums and maybe guitar? I don’t know… it was bewildering but addictive, it dug its claws in and injected a venom that made you livid at whatever you wanted to be, it was up to you, there was no context just raw potential for real feelings. Most enjoyable!
Next up for our enjoyment and a band that I was particularly excited about seeing was…
The only thing I knew of Meatraffle to this point was when Mr. Raffle played live with Fat White Family and I watched it on The Youtube but when I saw that the band was listed to play this event I knew that I’d be in for a treat just by company he mingles with.
I am delighted to affirm that they were everything I expected and more, an off-kilter rock band bordering occasionally on ska whilst remaining decidedly off kilter like a drunk in an armchair. There was a shanty quality to them, they’d be a perfect band to accommodate a pub brawl or foiled bank robbery. At times they bordered on ska but remained dancing on the wall between genres, coaxing and teasing but never quite one or the other. There was an element of parody that I sensed but it mightn’t have been there – a subtle mockery of the typical resident club band, it tickled me but again I might be on my own there.
They were tremendous fun and a real must see (as are all the bands we see!)
There was that combined realisation within our little party once Meatraffle had finished their set, that feeling of ‘oh shit, the time has come’ there was now nothing between us and the final performance lined up on our itinerary. Again The Arbiter and The Attorney had given the imminent band’s music a cheeky listen prior to the night but I had stuck to my guns and resisted! The cost of which was that I wasn’t as worked up as the others but they had been bigging it up all day so I was definitely looking forward to it.
We went outside for some air and preparation for what was to come, we were a little on edge because we wanted a good vantage spot, to be in the impending throng of people carelessly hurling their limbs around, all wrapped up in an ear-smashing splendour. That’s where we wanted to be and where we intended to go. We scurried back into the venue just as things were being setup which gave us a prime opportunity to get to a good place.
It was interesting to see the setup, an usual drum layout sat opposite a bench atop of which was a dated looking laptop, a midi keyboard and a series of wires and devices that I couldn’t possibly comprehend. The audience started to build up around the equipment creating a solid wall of excited faces and wide-eyes, I could then make out two performers within the circle that we had all created, they took their places, one on the drums and one behind the bench of equipped and with the push of a button, the smash of a drum thus ensued the awesome, awesome and I repeat with full impact of the word, AWESOME performance by…
Holy shit!(wife) we were off! What took place from that first note through the stack of amps positioned behind these two technical wizards was an epic battle of analogue and digital, these two equally matched, energy charged super heroes (or perhaps villains) were neck and neck in a final showdown that trumps all showdowns (Cloud & sephiroth, Ripley & Alien, Kevin & Perry) and we were right there with them, like collateral damage. We were the buildings in Godzilla, the tiny people you see vanish into the Earth in 2012 – we were expendable and they used our energy to charge themselves further. The fastest and most complex drum rudiments I had ever seen were being beaten out by an insatiable individual hell-bent on victory with each and every hit of his sticks countering a rumbling, organ scorching beatdown of heavy electro madness, frantic dial twists took fragments of synthesised terror to new and unexplored levels, they goaded each other ‘what are you gonna do about it?’ but we all new that it was a war of attrition, everyone wanted both of them to win because they’re ultimately perfect for each other. As I glanced around the audience between throwing as many peculiar shapes as I could I saw people about to explode like shaken lemonade bottles. The never ending build up between the two unrelenting powerhouses shaking the place apart with their constructed-paralleled battle cries was driving people to a primeval state where all they could do was reach up to the ceiling and roar or scream or shout obscenities in an involuntary way, we were all overwhelmed, it was blissfully painful, we couldn’t take anymore but we didn’t want it to stop. Everyone was part of this as it unfolded right in front of us and I know that if it the battle was still going we’d still be there now, I could have listened to their take on Come To Daddy all night, it was utterly sublime (my old man bought me the album when I was about 10 and it ruined me).
The battle came to an end with either two winners or two losers, we’ll go with the former because everyone was on a high, we had nothing left in us, nothing left to give, they had sapped everything out of us and left us blank, jiggering wrecks, the unforgiving music gods saw this and compelled the pair to give us one more, the exhaustion past instantly ‘fuck it, we got this!’ – They drove out another fantastic landscape of eerily dramatic and ridiculously powerful spell of crowd ending bliss met by insane whooping and cheering from an eternally grateful crowd.
We slithered out of The Stag & Hounds and made our way back to the car, buzzing in post-gig ecstasy, on the way home we barely said a word, like I said we had nothing left in us, they took it all and we let them. They earned it. My ears were ringing, my head was tingling and everything hurt but it was absolutely worth it!
Here is our collection of BIG LAD videos from the night, they do not do them justice at all!
Still processing Monday’s top night at Hy-Brasil with SANS & CRACK CLOUD The Shoracle contacted me asking if I wanted a ticket to see Warmduscher at The Exchange on Thursday, at the time I couldn’t remember anything about them at all and had to trust that ‘I’ve played them to you and you liked them’ was a true statement.
Sadly The Arbiter could not attend due to Arbiter related work but as fickle as we are as an organisation we were able to replace it him with a special guest DJ Wired for the evening.
The Exchange is now a regular venue for us to attend and will feature heavily in the impending series of write-ups, if you want to know more about it look up our ‘venues we love’ section so we don’t have to repeat ourselves all of the time.
A top notch trio to kick the night off with some rockabilly infused indie tunes featuring a cutting and clean Wilko Johnson style guitar, funky baselines and solid drumming. Vocals were delivered in a lounge, nonchalant sort of way giving them a big room sort of sound. Despite a slight technical hitch with the bass to begin with the performance was solid with some delicious scratchy guitar solos and an overall tight rhythm section. I believe they’re reasonably new as a band so keep an eye out for them and show your support!
I was so happy to be exposed to this band on this particular band, they were thoroughly enjoyable. Their sound featured inspiration drawn from bands that I love like Parquet Courts (they captured the angst through a stream of consciousness delivery of vocals and stop start song structures that I love, love,love) Stump (bendy and peculiar guitar nuances, off-kilter drums and a wonderfully animated performance) and Bogshed (thick, heavy driving music with a lighthearted touch). They were as angry as they were jovial with the happiest bass player we’ve seen in some time. It offered a wonderful juxtaposition to come across musically quite pissed off but physically chill and enjoying what they were doing. It made for some very unusual thought processes as you weren’t sure whether to happy dance and think of things like knowing there’s good bread at home or whether to kick off and think of impending bills. In the end I thought of both which led to a very bizarre sandwich when I got home. Lots of signature changes that are symbolic of a group of people who are perfect for making music together, very tight and technically excellent.
Like a bible-belt church band gone rogue, these guys waltzed onto the stage with the cool confidence of used car salesmen. I think their appearance certainly warped my perception but what I loved is that they gave me so much to go on. These are without a doubt one of the most American British bands I have ever come across, I love it. Everything about them springs up images of 50s America, but the sleezy, grubby aspects. You can imagine these guys running a con whilst travelling the road trying to make it big, you can imagine the singer’s dad wanting him to be a preacher but he had none of it. You can envisage the pissed off fiancé of the drummer who wants him to pack it up and take the job at her father’s flooring store, hence his apprehensive look as he rocks out on stage, aware that he loves what he does but has to commit and compromise. You can easily imagine him sneaking out of a screen-door of their perfect, picket house and leaping into an old truck being driven by another band member.
Their sound is one so utterly done before and systematically so unique at the same time, a very enjoyable piss take off rock n’ roll and the concepts that surround it. Whether it’s the tempo, a dud note or an off-tuned track there’s something that keeps it rooted to the shadows of alleyways down the side of bowling alleys rather than in the bright, innocuous light of some rock bands.
There is also a preachy, red right hand quality to them, in the way they arrive on stage and a recording tells you that you’re going to love them, in the desperate motions of a singer possessed by his own battle of self-destruction and self-gratification, a fist reaching for the ceiling whilst his other hand is wrapped around the microphone as if channeling an energy from a higher place through the equipment and into our ears. The whole time there was a niggling feeling in my brain that I was being conned, or indoctrinated like we had popped in on the off-chance and were leaving as part of a cult.
But as these former aluminium siding salesmen tricked us as much as they did we also let them. Foolish audience! Totally worth it though, I mean any band that can so seamlessly come across as one thing whilst you know that they’re not is a clever and deceptive outfit. We negotiated post gig whether or not it was a send-up, there was no way of knowing… we’re aware that the band members have solid music careers so is this just a bit of fun? Or is this really them? Which way up, if any, was it?
All I knew for sure is that I really fucking enjoyed it, I loved the sleeze, the grub and the reminded that I’m a disgusting human oozing out of their hypnotic, raw and possibly completely farcical facade as a jilted US rock-band, consuming everything in front of them in the pursuit of success and fame.
As I went to buy their album at the end of the night I saw the singer hand one to a guy and say ‘that’s genuinely the last one we have’ and my heart sunk, then he reached around and pulled out a bunch more and I thought ‘shit I’m right, they are brilliant con artists’ but it transpired to be a different pressing which re-instated the doubt. I bought it anyway and it’s fucking wicked, gold and everything. Tacky, tacky gold, like an old watch. Excellent. It’s a journey through gritty American imagery with Standing on The Corner a track destined to become the intro piece of a Guy Richie movie (you can imagine the monologue over the top ‘this is Stan, he was the getaway driver etc…), 1000 Whispers is the type of crooner number you’d expect to see in the lobby of a seedy hotel through thick smoke, it’s a real smorgasbord of visualisation that ties in nicely with the personas (maybe) that they’ve adopted! Well worth a see and a listen!
Sometimes the gig calendar looks bleak for us lowly writers. We look up at the big board on our writer’s floor and there are huge soulless gaps where we have to find things to do like work real jobs or stare long and hard into the void and rethink our life choices as we wile away our time in an archaic building which contains little but the ghosts of a lost industry and really damp paper.
But then, out of nowhere the week comes to an end and it feels like none of us have even left the venue at all, there comes a point where you realise that you’ve spent more time in a dark room full of sweaty, noisy people jeering in front of musicians than you have at any other single place in that week. This was one of those weeks and it was tremendous.
To instigate said week Arbiter Titan burst onto the writer’s floor sometime ago announcing that he had discovered a band called Crack Cloud through a ‘Tumblr’ (I have no idea) service called; Doom & Gloom From The Tomb a music blog that features a Monday Bandcamp discovery service of which was used by our proficient Arbiter to find the band that I’m about to talk about.
We had of course planned on going to this gig some weeks or months ago and decided that a pragmatic notion would be not to book too many gigs throughout the week because of the impending Triptych event that we had also booked tickets for waaaay in advance and were very excited about.
So without further delay, here is the story!
Sans & Crack Cloud at Hy-Brasil
What began as The Arbiter and I travelling over to Bristol in our conventional way to catch a band quickly doubled in size when The Duchess and Attorney Stevios stepped up to the step and stepped out with us to see what was what. It was another of Hy-Brasil’s free gigs to tempt out the music lovers committed enough to experience something on a Monday night (as far as we are concerned all nights are the same regardless of the day!) so far we had caught some real gems at Hy-Brasil including our good friend Jack Cooper and Olden Yolk.
Somehow we managed to cock up the parking and ended up in an expensive underground parking place but given our excitement we didn’t really care. The Arbiter often respects my desire to go in ‘ear blind’ but he did succumb and play me a little Crack Cloud beforehand just to affirm that I would really like them.
First onto the stage this evening was a band called SANS (who we are now assuming are from Bristol because they walked past us yesterday!)
I was already excited because I had caught their soundcheck so when it came time for them to actually let rip I was giddy with anticipation.
What followed was an ear-grabbing cacophony of angst-driven, passionate noise making from the trio with mechanical drums carrying a jarring array of booming and twanging guitars and words that were being hurled at us by an individual who appeared to have succumbed to his own musical makings and allowed his body to be bandied around like some puppet to the noises he was generating. If it’s possible to waterboard someone’s aural glands with golden syrup this would be what it’s like and I’d certainly be signing up for it.
In hindsight they were a brilliant band to open the night with and I hope I see them again and not just in passing, but on an actual stage. I think they’re relatively new as well (from what little research we ever do here) so I’m glad that they had this opportunity, the audience were certainly in the zone with me as I glanced around at the nodding heads and bending knees.
Their set thoroughly warmed my earlobes and provided me with a low-level tinitus that I’ve been able to maintain for the rest of the week. If you get chance to see them, make sure you do it!
Next up were Crack Cloud and first off I was massively impressed that they could even fit all of them onto the stage given that poor old SANS’s’s’sssss bassist had to stand on the actual floor with us peasanty audience members! Somehow the 7-strong outfit managed to squish themselves onto the stage and deliver a gold-bullion performance.
We don’t often like to discuss the appearance of bands because we don’t find its often that relevant but Crack Cloud identify as an Artistic Collaboration so one assumes that the way they look is part and parcel of the artistic image that they convey. In all honesty and like no shortage of groups, bands artists that we’ve seen in the past there’s always that question of ‘I wonder how they met’ sometimes a group looks quite unlikely and it’s intriguing to wonder how they found each other.
What I liked is that they were so wonderfully mismatched you got the impression that the only thing they cared about was the sound, like nothing else mattered as long as the right pieces were there. I think this is the notion that I like the most because it ties in with our ethos that the sound of a band takes precedent over everything else. I mean, sure you can adopt personas and looks and characters on stage but no one is going to buy your album based on appearance.
There was a feeling of absolute androgyny as well, highlighted by choice haircuts and a variation of outfits that all bore the name of the band and so tied in each member despite any other differences. It was like you had seven people on stage doing very different things with different instruments but by sheer fluke because of their obscure effort at a uniform it all tied in together.
The accents of all sung words were completely universal and impossible to place, I never would have guessed that the band are from Canada but at the same time I couldn’t begin to figure out where they were from, yet another unusual ability that pushes the listener further and further to the sound and nothing else.
So let us speak of this sound, of this immaculate, simplistic, intricate take on post-punk with a flavouring of arthouse (check out their videos) all emerging as one final product ‘Crack Cloud‘.
They certainly encapsulated no shortage of bands that I love, including and not limited to; Wire, Devo, Television, Stump, Joy Division with a pinch of Dexy’s protruding through now and then. Let me emphasise ‘encapsulated’ and not copying or mimicking. This was the perfect example of how you can take fragments of existing ideas and expand on them and meld them together with your own methods to create something new and fantastic whilst always alluding back to those initial influences. This happens all of the time but it’s the end result that really matters.
The way I see it, each member who makes up the ‘Crack Cloud’ collaborative is bringing forward their idea, concept or notion of anti-establishment. Their gripes and issues with the modern world are being re-purposed into something creative and unique that not only sheds light on the issues but also entertains, this is a crucial and fundamental part of music and when it’s done so absolutely perfectly right as with Crack Cloud you can’t help but get completely behind it and offer all you have to help sustain it.
Crack Cloud are not afraid to explore the spectrum of sounds that they reside in to its full extent with perfectly timed nuances arising from all aspects of the group. Again there were times when each member was creating a fraction of the sound, maybe a sparse few notes repeating on a guitar, or an understating drone from a synth-key, all these small and innocuous sounds were meeting in the middle and giving us something enormous to explore and play around in. At times some of the tracks had so much space between the actual music creating this idea of vastness and isolation, then and for me most notably with the track Swish Swash (last track played, last track on the album) all of these separate entities would build and build, not necessarily in complexity but in volume and size, I don’t know how that works but the track was getting bigger and bigger even though everyone seemed to be doing the same thing throughout, then you suddenly realise that they’re not… that they ARE building it but because they’ve taken their time and done it with precision and patience you don’t realise it’s happening, like a cliff being eroded by the sea, it’s not until the caravan falls off that you realise it’s happening!
Even the Shoracle’s vision that ‘this is the year of the saxophone’ applies as they managed to fit in some beautifully placed sqwonks and squees during one of the tracks! This made us very happy.
At the end of the night I picked up a copy of their ‘album’ which is in fact the first two EPs on vinyl and it’s outstanding. I’ve owned it less than week and I’ve listened to it at least a dozen times, it’s truly magnificent, hugely fresh, exceptionally well put together and just beautiful to listen to.
The band are now performing their European tour so if you get chance to attend any of the dates we strongly advise it, meanwhile we shall be feeling vaguely smug about seeing their first UK performance of all time. Not only were both bands exceptional but they fitted in very well with everything that followed during the week… more of that to come, so in the meantime enjoy watching these guys:
Aiden Moffat and RM Hubbert played their latest album called Here lies the Body released on Rock Action Records, in the gig room at Rough Trade Records in Bristol with support from Siobhan Wilson. I CANNOT FIND A REUSABLE PICTURE OF ROUGH TRADE OR THEIR LOGO. So, let me tell you a story, I couldn’t bear the gig room when the support was on so I sat outside and witnessed Aiden Moffat and RM Hubbert perusing Rough Trade after it had been closed off especially for them. Obviously, one to have a vivid AF imagination I superimposed my daydreams of them running around the shop in a diva-esque fashion a la Mariah or suchlike. I took a picture, you can’t even see Aiden running around in shorts picking out albums (Daphne and Celeste I am guessing, but just don’t ask) but I love it anyway.
I mean, I didn’t even know that there was a gig room. It’s not a venue I have visited due to it being so new. As gig rooms go, I bet this one would be awesome at any other gig. Big doors at the back shutting the sound in, dark, no pillars in the general viewing area…I know of Idles playing there, I bet their angry noise ricocheted from wall to wall to wall to wall, but Siobhan Wilson struggled against the door opening and closing and people talking throughout her slot.
Her music is wistful and cinematic, it sounds like the soundtrack to a series shown on Sky Atlantic by Wes Anderson. I was feeling a bit fragile so stepped outside for a cuppa and a sit-down.
I do love a good lyric and it is truly well known that I am dearly fond of Arab Strap from their days on Chemikal Underground records. It’s not as if I followed them around or anything. Aiden’s voice moves me, since the minute I heard Cherubs I was smitten. Shame on me for only really hearing Cockrow though, my former self would be angry.
IS IT THOUGH?
Part of me is really glad I didn’t know too much about the new album as I was entranced throughout. Most of me felt my spine tingle during She Runs and Mz. Locum. How can you not with such lyrics as: ‘Capricious contrarian…I’m her prurient proxy/Goodbye – good luck! – to my capricious contrarian, my blissoming* blonde, my wee louche libertarian’?
*blissoming means lustful even though Grammarly is shouting at me.
I can’t believe that this opus on sex and death and sex again took only three days to record. It is a masterful study on relationships, painfully accurate and using some copper speak-box that makes it sound like a train station announcer. I also discovered that the machine he was directing his wand at was an 808 machine. Let’s not get hung up on the technicalities of what the instrument was, it was amazing. I think my favourite has to be Mz Locum, I am a lyric girl after all.
Aiden and RM were beyond my expectations, exceptional even. The discourse, the music and the atmosphere were so conducive to bliss. I’m so glad that I managed to see these perform in such an intimate venue.
RM Hubbert was a great discovery, his website sounds just like him, I have included some of his solo stuff on the short playlist below, but obviously, if you like it then support your scene and seek them out on bandcamp or their record label.
… You can find the lyric book available as a PDF on the album’s website here… and what a beautiful piece of art it is, that is quite the effort that impressed me and my paper hating tendencies.
If you loved it or hated it join in the conversation on my insta or my twitter.
All terrible photos by me and my iPhone 7+.
Submitted by: Arbiter Titan.
In this time of multitudinous cover bands catering to middle aged music fans wanting to relive past glories,Pink Floyd are one of the most represented. Virtually all of these tributes tend to cater for the Dark Side of the Moon onwards crowd, so when original member Nick Mason announced he was forming a band to play just early, pre DSOTM Floyd tunes, against all my prejudices I was intrigued.
Announcing just four small venue gigs in London, tickets were going to be like gold dust. Thankfully my friend, and fellow Shonk affiliate, Magical Marc had the grace to offer me his spare ticket for the second gig on Monday night at The Half Moon in Putney …..a trip to that London was in the offing.
In the beer garden at the pub, the general buzz was excitement: were the rumours of what songs were played true?, is Gary Kemp going to be any good? many questions being asked. We queued (!!) to get in to the small back room venue and waited in anticipation.
The lights dimmed and a special effects tape was playing, and playing, and playing, tension was rising, eventually when the band came on stage, any thoughts they would ease themselves into the show were soon dispelled when they started the set with 3 tracks from Piper at the Gates of Dawn: Interstellar Overdrive, Astronomy Domine and Lucifer Sam – the room exploded! I could have walked out then and there and I would have been happy.
After this astonishing start Nick Mason introduced the band as “The Australian David Gilmour” and told of a good luck message from Mr Gilmour that included the sign off “break a leg Nick, preferably Roger Waters’!”
They played an excellent 80 minute set featuring tracks from most of the early albums, several treats included versions of tracks never played live by Pink Floyd: the wonderful Fearless and an astonishing version of Nile Song.
A lovely and poignant moment was a recording of John Peel introducing Let There Be More Light form his radio show back in the day.
A few more Syd Barrett era tracks (my personal favourite time) got the crowd up and the final track, a superb version of One of these Days (see video), left the crowd a sea of ecstatic faces.
They left a last surprise until the encore, a version of the seldom heard single Point Me at the Sky, when this song failed to chart Pink Floyd decided to stop releasing singles and concentrate on album music. I have to admit I was blissfully unaware that this song even existed!!
A fantastic night all round, a great venue and sound, great music played by a strong band who didn’t try to recreate carbon copies of these songs but played them with reverence and skill.
The train journey home was filled with discussion of “just how fucking great that was” and yes, Gary Kemp was very good!!!
NB: since this gig they have announced a European tour of this show playing much larger venues, I am so glad I got to see it in a small, intimate venue because we all know this is the best way to see live music.
From the desk…
Of our The London correspondent ‘Magical Marc’ comes his documented experience of Liverpool’s WRONG FESTIVAL:
After the success of last year’s inaugural gathering, it’s good to welcome back another barnstorming line up for lovers of the scuzzier, fuzzier and downright noise-mongering edges of outsider music. The location for this one-dayer couldn’t be more fitting; the North Docklands location and surrounding streets being a (black) mirror image of the Baltic Triangle’s Camp and Furnace setup. Manoeuvring around the multiple taxi wrecks and somewhat sketchy entrances of the three venues that made up the festival showed how neglected this side of town has been in Liverpool’s recent regeneration drives but the lack of trendsetting and ‘creative hub’ pop-ups was far more fitting with the mood of the day.
After starting the day with a ballast-setting cup of tea and cheese toastie at the local café (try getting the equivalent in the Baltic for £2!), we start at the Drop The Dumbulls venue to see Brighton-based brothers Lee and Nick Meldrum who make up the riff-sodden beast that is SONS. The duo’s Guitar/Drums combination initially strikes the listener as a Slaves or Royal Blood clone but Lee’s blood curdling roar of a voice and Nick’s ability to flick between a loping groove behind the tune and punching the rhythm through on the more aggressive parts means there’s far more muscle to their sound than meets the eye. ‘Rise’ is one of the key tracks to pick up from them.
‘We’re from Scotland, but don’t hold that against us’, proclaim Doom merchants BURIED SLEEPER. With a sound as monumentally epic as they have, there’s no room for any reservations about their origin. Lurching from tiptoe-light to slab-crashing might not be the newest trick in the book but these guys have got the knack of getting it right for their set, largely taken from new LP ‘Obsidian’. It’s also amusing to see the pyrotechnics getting an airing so early in the proceedings, with two 25-foot-high whooshes of dry ice gracing either side of the North Shore Troubadour’s daylight-filled stage with seemingly no particular timing attached. Still, it does lend an air of calamity fitting to the occasion and guttural crunch being played out.
Moving on into the afternoon, North-Wales based trio GRAVVES have a half decent audience for their set considering their spot but struggle to fill the cavernous space of the Invisible Wind Factory with any decent volume (the inevitable curse of the early slot on the main stage of any festival) which results in their usually pummelling sound being a little diluted. Nevertheless, songs from their latest ‘Oh, The Joy’ EP seem a little snappier than their previous outings and we’d wholeheartedly recommend catching them in a smaller venue where their sound can push out a little more dynamically.
Next up is ELEVANT, another trio containing frontman Michael Edward (Singer, Guitarist and a key person in bringing the WRONG festival to life) alongside Hannah (Bass) and Tom (Drummer), who seemingly get the volume up a notch and give new track ‘Nowhere’ from forthcoming EP ‘Her Come The Cold Sweats’ a good blast alongside some old favourites. They certainly use the expanse of the stage to show this is no passing festival slot for them and fair play to Edward himself for getting excited about the bands to come.
A hop, a skip and a jump back to Drop the Dumbulls stage to watch the frankly magnificent BLACK PUDDING follows. Leeds trio Sam (Guitarist), Jake (Drums) and Shane (Bass) shake the venue up like a snowglobe, scattering shards of screech and beats across an enthusiastic crowd, almost loping heads off in the process. Similarly, GNOD take no prisoners on the main stage starting with their latest (15min+) epic ‘Donovan’s Daughter’s’ and prove that, despite being over a decade old, they show no signs of flagging on either the songwriting or live platform. If anything, they’re just getting started and new LP ‘Chapel Perilous’ should receive the same plaudits as their previous ‘Just Say No..’ LP did if this performance is anything to go by.
As the evening creeps in we watch the early part of the HEY COLOSSUS set, their latest line-up and three-guitar onslaught being every good if not better than previous outings. However, there’s no missing the chance to watch DAMO SUZUKI and MUGSTAR in a spontaneous collaboration that fulfils every expectation- euphoric peaks and motorik relentlessness, the band fizzing and whizzing around Damo’s seer-like declarations and protestations. All in all, a magical day and I haven’t even time (or review space) to mention FUTURE OF THE LEFT, THE ST PIERRE SNAKE INVASION and CONAN’s 1.30am set!
This was a night that Quiet Shoes, Dee-Scripter and myself had been looking forward to for some time. In fact Dee-Scripter had introduced me to Aidan Moffat via Arab Strap some 10 years ago and was my point of inception for becoming a fan. During university I managed to slump into some pretty dark times and it was the sweet nihilistic words of Aidan Moffat who played a part in dragging me through those times and out the other side. I drew from him as an influence when writing poetry for the course and am ashamed to admit that some recordings of what I wrote has me attempting a Scottish accent because it unlocked so much in the way of rhyming and it makes being depressed or down sound really good.
We arrived at the venue and waited a good ten minutes in the rain for Dee to turn up, I like to think that the rain was part of the performance, getting you ready for what was ahead with an ashen sky and soggy skin. A stark contrast to the immaculate and brightly lit interior of the Rough Trade shop / venue. It was a good scope out ready for Psych Fest as we didn’t know much about the venue at all.
What I will conclude is that it’s functional. That’s it really, it has a bar, a seated area and a performance area. I don’t know if it’s because it’s relatively new but the venue itself had no atmosphere, it was sterile and clinical. There was a stage with instruments on it, some speakers, a sound desk area, some folded seats, it was a dark room.. the floor wasn’t sticky, there was no smell, no stickers, no posters, no ambience whatsoever, it was totally blank and flat. The single worst aspect of the entire building those is the door into the venue from the bar. What you don’t want during a sublime gig is to be interrupted by a harsh light every 10/30 seconds with someone absent mindedly walking in shouting ‘oh they’ve started’ or ‘is it this way?’ – this is a consensus that the three of us concluded rather quickly and upon our post-gig earwigging ascertained that it was shared with other audience members.
Setting that aside though, the sound was exceptional, I did think I spied the sound lady from The Old England who is always on form but I may have been wrong (I know Aidan Moffat & RM had their own touring sound person there too).
So, setting aside the issue of the door let’s get to it…
Siobhan Wilson tried to kill me. Armed with a guitar and the softest voice I have heard in a long time she was able to breakdown all external barriers that I have painstakingly erected in an attempt to keep emotion on one side and logic on the other and she broke it all up into pieces and danced around in my chest, commanding me to feel. I couldn’t fight it because it felt incredibly natural, the celtic lilt to her voice, the delicate brushing of the guitar strings coming through plain as day with a snow-like purity, making me think of the old road trips we took to Talybont as a kid, seeing the waterfalls and the ancient forests, it was like mother-nature herself had appeared before us as a singer and with a single, effortless stroke of strings and an equally effortless psiren like vocal mist completely destroyed and re-arranged everything that was known, or will be known.
Would there be any essence of us left as people before the next act take to the stage? Was this some form of beautiful punishment, or just a pure reminder of feelings and experience? Did anyone else feel like that or just me?
Sure you could look at it from a ‘top layer’ perspective and say ohh that’s celtic influenced indie folk or some other labels and words like iridescent but until you experience it for yourself with your own ears and your own vulnerabilities there’s nothing on this earth that will do it justice.
AIDAN MOFFAT & RM HUBBERT
On a number of occasions The Shoracle has told me to listen to the album put out by Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert but I refused on the grounds that I’d see it / hear it and purchase it on the night of the performance and whilst I nailed two of these, I also forgot to take cash monies so haven’t completed the latter.
The only time I have seen Aidan himself is in the video for Afternoon Soaps (Arab Strap) which goes back a number of years and to re-iterate what he said on the night he was carrying the sexy teacher look off really well in the present. Again though, we’re getting hung up on the wrong aspects of the show… what surprised me the most was how funny he was. I guess having only known his work and nothing outside of that it was never likely that I’d paint a picture of someone so dry and witty as was the man stood in front of me now, but he was, highly entertaining and laugh inducing. Often referring to some of the darker songs as happy. If AM or RM were going to give up music then certainly comedy writing would be a realistic goal for them both.
As to be expected their performance was utterly beautiful and (almost) seamless, with the promise of any ‘fucked up’ songs being replayed at the end. At times it baffled me how such sparse guitar, barely existing drums and unsubstantiated bass notes were capable of creating such a full and thick sound on which Mr Moffat could place his words with lullaby precision. RM’s fingers were dancing so delicately over the strings at times it seemed unpossible that sound was happening, but it was. A word that I’ve used a lot lately (because I only have so many of them and I’m trying to find more) is nuanced which certainly applies here what with all the delicate twinkly bits to listen out for.
It was much like being in a taxi that Mr. Moffat was behind the wheels of, he’s telling you tales of people he has met from all walks of life and whilst you’re listening to these tales of ordinary, damaged individuals you’re looking out of the window, the scenery of which is the music and you’re noticing all these innocuous yet delicate events taking place, a couple hugging, someone helping someone else with their bag, two friends seeing each other in the street. Normal, relatable events that are so easily taken for granted but when there is a commentator sat with you on the outside, looking in (or the inside looking out) you’re drawn to these moments, you notice them and you appreciate them.
And that was it really… we left that sublime show feeling a feeling of blissful emptiness, we’d given ourselves over to the music makers and in exchange they sucked everything out and left us only what they had created. As a result, upon meeting Mr. Moffat I just said something along the lines of ‘I love you you’re great’ like a babbling twat. But y’know, it was his fault.
It’s not often that I attend a gig alone, certainly not gigs that you know are going to exceptionally loud and raucous, but when I bought my ticket I figured I’d probably see someone I knew there and it would all be okay.
I had first discovered Weedeater by accident during one of many Youtube explorations into the unknown, ‘I like this’ thought I, much like Gregg Wallace as I discovered more and more of their records. It then became clear that they’re well known in the stoner, sludgy brown sound world of music which happens to be one of my favourite places to reside you. In the murky swamp of down-tuned instruments surrounded by a thick green haze and slumped up buddies with slits for eyes, contemplating everything and nothing at the same time… delicious.
So, ticketed up and as baked as any dessert on a Sunday at my Nan’s house I ventured off, like I have many many times before into the great musical unknown, albeit alone.
It was a four band night but due to the aforementioned stonededness I completely missed the first act but I did manage to arrive just in time for Lacertillia. A new band to me so I had the joy of experience them with total ear-blindedness and holy fuck what a show they put on. The room was pumping and sweating in a synchronised fashion to the shaggy-haired singer who was moving faster than my eyes could calculate. They were an unrelenting battering ram of psychedelic thunder, basically you opened the door and let them in or they were breaking through, simple as that.
I was standing on the little raised bit where the booths are located so that I could see over the crowd and protect my weak and spasticated body from the throng of long haired, darkly dressed doom lovers who created a seemingly impenetrable wall between me (safe) and the band (dangerous). I was wrong, no sooner had I pondered my own safety had the front-man locked eyes with me and I guess decided ‘he’s too safe’ because the next thing I new, the safety wall of r0ckers parted and the singer was marching up to me with determination, he was then mere inches from my face injecting the words to the song with such severity into my body that I thought I was going to burst into tears, or explode, or both.
He then proceeded to role back across the floor, through the crowd back to his domain, having left me weak and afraid, succumbing to the hold of the music and energy within the room. Fuck yes.
If dragons are real in Wales it’s these guys, these guys are the dragons. I never knew they existed until this night but yup, they do and they’re a force NOT to be reckoned with. Fan or not (and we is), they’ll eat you up regardless. Bandcamp; here.
The second ear-blind musical venture for me of this evening was ASG What a kick ass band… there were elements of deliciously raw prog, like, a pinch of Caress of Steel with the conjuring of images like brave warriors, mountains and quests, but at the same time they made me think of getting stoned and going to an arcade, and I was thinking of nineties pop culture references and VHS players… which in turn made me think of Regular Show. And so for me, as they performed these great quest-going megaballads of psychedelic, progeological and mega-rocking rockery I was taken on a journey (at one point on a giant bird type thing) over an immense kingdom of arcades, little thatched villages, kings, queens and magic and I’ve concluded that that must be what North Carolina looks like.
The Winusover album is a cacophony of sharp guitar over marching drums that conjure images of great war zones of mystical creatures battling it out for good and evil with the war cries and narratives of this incredible unwinding tapestry of musical story telling beautifully sung or awingly screamed by Jason Shi.
So, if like me you love the brown, boognish sounds of st0ner rock at it’s finest – you need to check these guys out. And if you know about them then you should feel bad for not telling me sooner! Bandcamp; here
Also hailing from North Carolina which I am starting to suspect is the birth place, or at least spawn point or incubation chamber for all great stoner bands is Weedeater the legends of their genre. The first track I ever heard was ‘Alone’ which was insanely misleading but by this point I was far more versed in their music which is so low down doomy dirge that it’s the musical underlay to the carpet of convention. I half expected Dave Collins to release a small pig into the crowd because as soon as they showed up I knew that we would be going on a hootenanny and hootenanny we surely went on.
As they kicked into action with their incredible ability to make every instrument including drums AND voices growl (something I thought unpossible) I felt the notion that what we needed was some bales of hay and a few bongs. It didn’t help that there was a glorious smell of cannabis emanating around me (that later transpired to BE me, escaping my pores via sweat) I considered licking myself but thought better of it.
Dave Collins moves around like a man possessed which in a way I like to think that he is at the time, his raw, throaty bellows, refined by years of Jim Bean consumption are the dark lullabies you only want to hear in this context. His thumbs which I imagine to be like densely packed wire wool from years of plucking bass strings danced across those thick strings, plunging us into the doldrums with riffs as gloomy as a haunted forest and a tempo that of whomever is attempting to escape the haunted forest.
But the crowd loved being in the forest, they loved being doused with whiskey, they loved the surrealistic jesterisations of Dave Collins dancing around, like the Pied Piper leading us down the foggy rabbit hole into another world, a safe world of substance abuse and never ending tinitus. This is where we wanted to go and that’s where we went and it was delicious. Website; here
Now and then we expect to go to a gig with the expectation of an enjoyably linear evening. One where everything is fine and grand and we have a nice time but nothing notably out of the ordinary takes place. This was not one of those nights. The Lovely Eggs have been on our radar since 2009 when we first went to see them under the advisement of The Shoracle at Ten Feet Tall in Cardiff, the night was tremendous and since then we have made every effort to attend their Welsh shows, firstly because they are an exceptional band who never fail to entertain and secondly they’ve always confessed an affinity with coming to Cardiff of which we feel should be respected, it’s a mutual appreciation between audience and band which should be maintained and respected by all.
On this particular evening Arbiter Titan was due to attend with myself and Dee-Scripter a rogue agent of The Shonk. Sadly AT was unable to attend due to ‘recital’ reasons (he can be so cryptic) so I was accompanied by The Duchess (Of Earl) another Eggs fan. A few months ago we had caught The Eggs and Mr Ben & The Bens in Cardiff during their last tour, they were accompanied by Porky The Poet (Phil Jupitus) and as usual it was another tremendous night. With this in mind we were excited to be travelling across to Bristol to one of my favourite venues of the big city, The Exchange.
Given the sound guys (I think his name is Tim?) love of bass and ability to blend all sounds perfectly I knew the set was going to be epic, for many years I’ve coveted Holly’s Selmer Bass & Treble amplifier and I was very excited to see how it sounded on this particular evening, I was not disappointed. Although I am getting ahead of myself now…
Mr Ben & The Bens
First to take to the stage was Mr Ben & The Bens a delightful band from Lancaster. They played an absolutely solid set in which no trumpets were squished (sadly an event which took place previously in Cardiff), we don’t normally talk about band appearance but the four-piece were rocking some lovely tea-cosy esque hats and an assortment of smocks and paint covered overalls which alluded playfully to the idea that they’d just come out of an art/music studio after locking themselves in there since the last time we had seen them and perhaps they did. The set was absolutely solid and sounded immense, the preponderance of bass juxtaposed with Mr. Ben’s immaculate ‘high’ voice (there’s a word for it I’m sure) with all the nuanced bass, guitar, drums and keys delicately decorated about in each tune provided the perfect recipe and mix for the fluffy song cake that they served up to us. We noted that Mr Ben in particular seemed a little more relaxed or comfortable than last time, not to detract from the brilliance of the Cardiff show but there was certain improvement that comes with playing and practicing and all the stuff I don’t do as a musician, this show was proof that it pays off.
I’ll note at this point that How We Used to Write is The Duchesses’ favourite tune whereas mine is The Bluest Blues, I just love that cheeky little riff (almost math-rock influenced) and then the organ drops giving it an Elvis Costello sort of feel, or um… Vampire Weekend.. I don’t like to make too many comparisons because the bottom line is that it’s Mr. Ben & The Bens.
The new album is coming out, or has come out and it’s called Happy Shopper, I could look it up for you but you should do it because then you’ll buy it, it’s out on Bingo Records which is a concept I wish I could sustain down here – a record label operating from a house as a community venture, what’s not to love? If memory serves correctly the drummer of MRBATB is the King of it or something.
We highly recommend this band for your viewing and seeing pleasure and we very hope to see them again.
It was nice to see that one of the support slots on this tour had been passed along to another poet, I find that sometimes it serves as a nice break between seeing three back to back bands but it’s also good to see people of different musical and literary backgrounds supporting one another, although if you go to a poetry recital night it’s rare that they bring a punk band for the interim slot, and if you DO go to a poetry recital and attempt to punk you are often banned as we have found.
After seeing Rob Auton perform and THEN reading some of the critical reviews provided by the likes of The Daily Mail… and I ask you at this point, how on earth is possible for The Daily Mail to attend The Fringe or anything remotely literary, artistic or liberal, what the fuck? They have no place there because they have no understanding of any of it. Wankers.
Anyway… sorry (AT will reprimand me for such digression) anyone observing that sparrows have their lives together more than themselves is a genius in my books, I mean for a start it’s true and it’s one of those observations that you wish you’d made yourself.
“My book is for sale out there, it’s £10 and if you think that’s a lot… you can save up” – Rob Auton
I found that his awkward almost reluctance to be on stage and address an audience to be highly entertaining. Far too often we are fed (not us personally as we have taste) immaculate and glossy performers, entertainers and jesters who embrace the stage and overact, play up to the situation.. Rob Auton does the opposite. I saw it as a gentle reminded that the audience does not own the performer and our assumptions of them prior to stage time shouldn’t be what we lean on in certainty. Here was Rob Auton destroying all pre-requisites by being too apathetic to be awkward, too awkward to be nervous and too nervous to care, like a substitute teacher who knows his contract is up, he made no effort to control the crowd but rather, in an unspoken fashion directed his talent and skill to those willing to listen. Critics are wankers, anything they don’t understand they assume is rubbish or they poke holes in it, we’ve no time for them. Rob Auton is great, buy his book.
The Lovely Eggs
No fucking about, Dave & Holly (Or Mr & Mrs. Eggs) were on stage like Strongbow powered bullets and caning out the hits before we had time to blink. I got all daft over that uhhhhhhmazing guitar sound (amp, I am coming for you) and the crowd which at this point we noticed was a seriously diverse mix of ages went totally mental.
There was a Pondie stood next to us, representing two of the greatest bands in the world with his T-shirt and his scarf, I forgot my scarf because I’m an idiot so I just stood next to his scarf each time he raised it!
Everyone was having a great time, Dee-Scripter was happy because there was a Harry Shearer lookalike having a right old jig in front of him. Then out of nowhere a bunch of balloons turned up and it felt like a low-cost attempt at recreating a Flaming Lips scenario which was hilarious to me because despite there only being 4 balloons on this particular evening, it was way better than Flaming Lips could ever hope to think to achieve (and I had a great time at that show)…
…then it got to a point in the set where it sort of went off on one, a bit unexpected like, but exciting because none of us knew what was going on and sometimes that is a great feeling. Holly had all kinds of vocal effects going on and I was trying to pick out what she was saying / singing over Dave’s metronomical super drumming… guitar… plays… anyone? Who, what? What is she asking for?
‘Are there really no women in here who play guitar’ I finally heard her say as the effects eeked out. ‘Holy shit’ I began pointing at The Duchess ‘woo, over here, look at this one’ – ‘what what what’ Said TD. in all the confusion ‘you play guitar!’ I stated and as she realised that this was true, so raised her hand and was noticed by Holly who said ‘come up here’.
Well shit. Didn’t see that coming.
Up TD went onto the stage, around Dave, behind the big stacky speaker thing whereupon she was bestowed Holly’s guitar and told ‘can you play E… wait, not E… I’m a bit wasted, it’s in D, you can use the wah if you like’ and there it was, TD. on stage with The Lovely Eggs, whodda thunk it. Getting in the groove with Dave as Holly went all Lux Interior and climbed up onto the speakers making all hypnotic noises thanks to vocal delay.
The crowd in its entirety was mesmerised and whirling dervish to the cacophony of the hypnotical music that was happening, I think if Holly hadn’t eventually climbed down from the speakers and reclaimed her guitar we might all still be there now.
Once again, this exceptional duo had smashed out a set of whimsical, rockical, magical tunes that you’d think at least four people were playing at any given time, each and everyone of us had been blasted with the bespoke joy only these two can bring and once again we were all reminded of the power of ‘Fuck It’ – it’s at this point you realise that they’re more than a band, they’re a therapy. A medical requirement to continue through the fog of modern life, now and then when things get too much you have to nip off to the side and experience some true to form Lovely Eggs psych punk, or if you’re mind is that frazzled take it back to an earlier album and enjoy one of the lighter tunes about lemons or birds. There’s something for everyone regardless of your delicate mental state and I reckon if you give them a listen you might ditch your depressants in favour. (Don’t really do that, I’m not a doctor) But DO check them out if you haven’t, which should be a crime by now.
By this point it might be a seriously liberal use of the term ‘anti-folk’, I mean, what the fuck could have prepared me for this performance? And more to the point, who is ever going to top it? Going to an ultimate gig is just as much a worry as it is a blessing because who knows how many need to tick over before the next ultimate one?
I’m pretty secure in the idea that it was the headline act of a gig that I was attending but it could equally have been a public awareness video highlighting the awesome effects of longterm drinking and cocaine and I mean that in the best possible way.
Like a hyperactive child B.A Johnston darted from instrument to instrument across the stage with no inhibitions, just bollocking out tune after tune with incredible titles like ‘how many ribeye steaks can by chubby, unwashed fingers cram into the waistband of my uniform’ (as seen below and I lose my shit every time I see it).
I was grateful I didn’t have a drink with me for Mr. Johnston made it his mission to ensure that audience members downed whatever they had on them and down they did, can into the forehead off to another. A sizeable amount of the performance took place off stage, somewhat breaking the forth wall but I do like a performer that likes to explore his surroundings, like a large, bearded bee, floating around at impossible speed and agility.
From the infinite ‘Who are you looking at Dickhead’ T-shirts to the curious looking Blackberry Passport containing an array of midi-esque backing tracks for the multi-genred and at times genreless tunes of social injustic, household appliances and burgers.
These are all important factors of life and you need to remember that as well people writing love songs and all that bollocks you need people to write about the other stuff too, it’s all important. It’s like, how we need businesspeople and refuse collectors, we don’t all like to admit that they’re there but they are and in this case it makes for an incredibly enjoyable show, an insight into the frantic mind of someone who either never gave a fuck and does it because they do it, or they once gave a fuck then thought fuck it and no more fucks were given.
Now… those who know me will know that I am not a fan of encores, to me it’s like shouting ‘hey we paid you, play more you cheap bastard’ and I don’t dig that, BUT there was an exception here for I felt that more was needed, I needed to know, like the rest of the audience where this would go…
‘If I play one more will you come with me on a journey?’ BA, now topless, sweaty but as unforgivingly energetic as the start of the show asked us. ‘Yessss’ we all shouted, expecting a musical journey. ‘FOLLOW ME’ came his response and with that he leapt off the stage and like the Pied Piper led the entire audience down to the mens-room in the basement to perform his final song and for us to sing it to in one of the greatest acoustic locations of any building.
And yeah… that’s what happened… we all sort of meandered out of the toilets after the song, with some guys realising ‘actually I need a wee’ and turning around to go back in. Everything felt a little confusing afterwards like reality was a bit alien to us all.
Needless to say it’s one of the top gigs of the year and given the number attended so far we have to solidly give B.A Johnston the OFFICIAL ‘The Shonk’ Gregg Wallace ‘I like that’ seal of approval.