Like its original namesake The Skerries stands like a little beacon of light and hope for any sort of alternative live music in Bangor. Keeping the flame burning through the ups and downs of the scene here, which has definitely punched below its weight in recent times, especially given the number of students lurking, James [Phillips] is open minded and appreciative of a wide range of real music and has gathered some treats for us tonight.
The place is certainly full with freshers but their minds may be elsewhere than the madness in the back room.
First up we have Hot Dawg Assassins, apparently just back after a bit of a hiatus before they have another. Great timing to catch them then as they are superb. Some crazy concoction of serious political stream of consciousness rap, with a Levellers style violin to add a folky lilt, interspersed with hilarious numbers regarding dreams of fish and battles with squirrels. Genuinely entertaining and had me smiling broadly .
Next up A Devils Din (above) had certainly brought enough equipment to fill the place, and it turned out all the way from Montréal in Canada (yes, they know Voivod). What an honour to have them visit this little corner of our world and deliver some incredibly professional and profound heavy psychedelic, like Hendrix meeting early Ffloyd. Maybe this was emphasised with the upside down guitar but when this was left this. to concentrate on keyboard vibes and trip outs the bass player broke out a combine bass/guitar monster. Unbelievable scenes, but quality musicianship carried us along on a great ride, expanding our cosmic horizons.
Finally the much anticipated Rabo de Toro (top) who in the space of a few gigs have created a major stir in the local pond prone to stagnation. Starting with an almost operatic sung section from front man Charlie, it’s instantly hypnotising, then we are swept into a theatrical maelstrom of experimental, avant-gardening of insistent rock outs. At times encompassing the widely varying projects of Mike Patton but blended with more relentless rant rapping akin to Mark E Smith or Sleaford Mods, the lyric hooks and verbal twists grab you, the deft music a perfect balance and drive to the impact. There’s a lot of experience in the band and it’s great to see their control over the chaos, the whole thing is striking, performance personified, and an intelligent undercurrent behind it all. A raucous rendition of Too Drunk To Fuck provides a reckless riposte to the evening, and something special has been savoured for sure.