GIG REVIEW – Orient Machine, Chemical Town, Inferno, I Fight Lions, Dinosaur Garden @ Rascals, Bangor
I tweeted / instagram’d this pic during the gig with the caption, ‘Iesu Grist! How fucking good are Orient Machine?’
No one answered, and to be fair it wasn’t a question, it’s a statement, in capital letters carved into the side of the Clwydian Range, because Orient Machine are one fuck of a band…
There was a lot going on in North Wales tonight, plenty of bands in plenty of towns, some will have sold out, some will be packed out, some half full and some will be deserted. Rascals fluctuated between the latter two… And to sit, stand, watch, witness, listen to 5 bands from start to finish then you have to be hardcore – so I guess that makes about 5 of us!
Surprise package, as they weren’t on the posters, came in the form of Bangor/Llanfairfechan mobsters Dinosaur Garden.
For whatever reasons they never showed up when billed here last month, maybe they got their calendars mixed up. They had eluded me ’til now and I had drawn my own assumptions (always negative) on them, so when they slap out a kind of upbeat funky-stoner rock on amphetamines, the negative preconceptions soon turn positive.
A crusty bassist, called Zion Stuart (ace) with a crusty bass guitar who is in perfect time/tune with the drummer and a tea-cosy touting vocalist who doesn’t take himself too seriously, all makes a good combination. Nice track called Psychofuck. Look forward to some recorded output…
I reviewed I Fight Lions last month (end of May) and was immediately switched onto their stuff, and this was despite hearing them through a karaoke PA that sounded like you were swimming in country vegetable soup wearing a WW2 gas mask. Tonight however the sound was so crisp and so loud that I thanked (engineer) James Rozzy by drawing him a lifesize pic of my tackle, although I feel like reclaiming it now as my ears are still ringing and I seem to have lost certain frequencies.
I Fight Lions are an odd ensemble, they have a bassist who looks like he should be carrying an iPad and a briefcase, a drummer who looks like he should be in Dinosaur Garden, a stand in guitarist (‘tho you’d’ve never’ve guessed it) and a singer looking like he’s in private education.
While they look like they’ve been thrown together, the music they come up with is entirely different and I’ve been racking my tiny mind as to where it comes from, then it struck me right between the eyes. West Side Story..! They write their songs as if they were musicals… Musicals with loud guitars. There’s intricacies, perplexing melodies, and oozing delectable hooks amid thundering riffs – a great mix!
Songs covered Date Rapists and people not liking your music… I was bursting for a piss and dying for a pint, but stayed there, feet tapping head nodding appreciatively – it was compelling.
I paddled through the Gents Toilets and grabbed some fresh air and a good natter with Alun and Harvey of Chemical Town outside before heading back upstairs where my favourite stalkees Inferno opened up their short set with a new song Death By Rock ‘n’ Roll. Alun quipped at how good Inferno are, having not seen them for a few years. They are so together, know each other inside out and spend so much time on the road that they probably all fart in time (and in tune!).
Old favourite (well, mine anyway), Veni Vidi Vici is next and, like any band that put themselves about, Inferno have their detractors, those who ridicule them (always trolls). When a band gets out there and play at least three gigs a week every week, there are others who don’t like it (for whatever reason), ‘They’re shit.’ ‘They’re wankers.’ And I guess when people say such things, it’s up to that band to stick a well aimed middle finger up and scream ‘Fuck You’ – Inferno do that so well.
For myself, it’s a strange affair and a pleasure to hear these tunes and Inferno sit extremely well amongst my collection of Righteous Anger Records, Pumpkin Records, American Hardcore output, stuff so extreme, that these Holyhead boys shouldn’t even get a sniff at my shelves. Yet I love this bluesy metal stuff, even if Dynamite sounds like Mud’s Tiger Feet!
Chemical Town popped up on my saturated news feed one Sunday morning earlier this year. Hundred of bands do so and I (criminally) listen to so few. Just by chance I clicked the link and heard Run Rabbit Run – ‘How fucking ace is this!?’ I said to sleepy Sarah, she jumped out of bed and pogoed round the bedroom; well, ok, she didn’t, but did agree it was very catchy. So catchy that I offered to release it as a single on my own link2wales label. Things were all set to be pressed when Alun called me up to say they had recorded a new session and it was even better, so all stops had been pulled and you should soon hear their new EP ‘Red River.’
Alun and Harvey were until last year Seagull Kinevil batsmen when the whole set up (in their words) went a bit stale. ‘We wanted to freshen things up again, to be excited with what we’re doing, so we formed Chemical Town in January and have had fun ever since.’
With Ian Collins on drums, they kicked in with Strange Strangers, a great track off that first demo. Alun’s naturally strained voice complimenting the riffage. He’s built like a rugby player and looks like he should be farming pigs in a slurry pit in Llanerchymedd.
That Seagull / Valleum residue is evident (particularly in Ghosts) and shows that Alun and Harvey had quite an influence on that previous band’s output. Chemical Town are however far less flamboyant and far more rough and ready, like a chemically enhanced stoner rock band (second one tonight!), high on the shit-spewing factories and nuclear power stations their blotted locale offers them.
It’s 12.15am, my equilibrium has been battered by 4 bands at full volume, I’ve had a few beers and I’m sort of pondering whether I could be arsed with the graveyard shift, I mean, their 2 song online offering is OK, but it’s not going to have the masses queuing outside HMV on release day.
I started, so I’ll finish… I was one of NINE lucky people to witness Wrexham’s Orient Machine tear a gaping hole through the space/time continuum. Now, as you probably know, I’ve been around the block a few times now, become too cynical for my own good (and sometimes safety), so it takes a lot for a band to rattle my senses. Had I seen Orient Machine 10 years ago I would have a party in my pants, their name would be tattooed on my arm, and they would be millionaires; not because of me, but because what they do is absolutely mind boggingly incredible! I’m not saying they’re ten years out of date, more the fact that I’m ten years to the wind and a thousand more gigs under my belt…
Digressions aside, I am so glad I stayed.
Compelling, incredible, powerful and inspiring – with a singer/guitarist who treated his instrument with total contempt until it begged for mercy, he gave it no mercy… No solos, no fret wanking, no showing off – this is a craftsman who has not only mastered his craft, he has invented a new one… fucking amazing…
Think of Future of The Left, Nameless, The Hungry I and Steve Harley in a car chase with the Drug Squad in hot pursuit after they’ve ram raided the chemist during a riot and you might just about get the picture…
To be sure though, I insist you check them out…
There is an album due after summer, I only hope it captures what I witnessed tonight. If it does, they’ll be queuing down the road and round the corner on release day…