(review n pic by MWJ)
A rare trip around the country for these London noise merchants, their first since last years release (another rarity) of their “Habitual Linestepper” mini album, and I kinda think they’d been shoehorned into this existing gig (of a selection of melodic punk bands supporting Atomic Garden from France) through a lack of available options on an Easter Monday. Still, with strong memories/scars from their show in a little church hall in Cheshire a while back it was one band I would go the distance for
The basement/cellar setting of this venue/club certainly indicated it would be another intimate performance but my first impressions of the place were of how much it stunk of stale sweat. Or maybe that was me. There was probably more band members from the 5 acts present than paying customers, and while there was stuff to enjoy or appreciate among these bands ultimately not much out of the ordinary to write home about. Or maybe this was just in comparison and contrast to Palehorse, who as one wide eyed, grinning, and not quite as innocent any more youngster admitted afterwards, “There’s nothing like them”
One of the constraints on their touring activity is undoubtedly the lack of compromise in having their two bassists having monolithic cabs on either side of mini stage, not quite the thing you can fit in the back of a car. The drum kit is not extensive but evidently sufficient, they only have one vocalist tonight, though I think two were still involved in the last recording.
Drone and drawn out bass riffs signify things starting out, the drummer hammering out brief sections between tapping the cymbals to seemingly keep ever slowing time. The basses play facing him so that the punch in of their ultra sludge reverberating grooves is all the more precise when it eventually comes, the vocals also retched up once this has all kicked in. They chop and change structure throughout though, even with the languid down tempo there’s never a chance for boredom as you are always in a position of wondering what’s coming next. The faster pace, even backed with double bass drumming, still has a hypnotic insistent quality. Whether he’s covering two parts or not, I don’t know, but the vocalist can deliver guttural roar blending into haunted spoken word, occasional sung notes, even within the same line. As at the previous gig, he’s not limited to the stage and delivers in the heart of the gathered crowd, or on tables on the other side of the room, disturbing the mix and the comfort zones. He encourages people closer on the promise that he won’t go off again but this is a white lie as with one breaking down and fading out number he is wandering through the crowd without the mike still delivering an ever fainter spoken word/gentle song to those in earshot. It makes for a quite jawdropping intense experience. Not a particularly long set as special guests for the evening but massively satisfying, again to see genuine harrowing passion expressed in music form. Though as I pick up a cd from them after, as in many instances with those who get their demons out through live performance, found them to really pleasant friendly blokes and all the more reason why look i forward to more from them.