[review by steve coxon] [pics by neil crud + pete brookes]
Well, what are you going to do on a Thursday evening when presented with a choice between Celebrity Masterchef on TV or a trip through to North Wales equivalent to Sin City that is Rhyl. As I walk through the door like a gun slinging outlaw stepping into a western saloon, half expecting a chair to come flying at me, I’m surprised to find that there’s a friendly welcome and an opening at the bar where I choose a pint of Tuborg for a small sum of two quid.. it’s a good start.
Two years have passed since I last saw Spam Javelin and the first obvious difference is that of a change of line up. It would appear that band membership is temporary thing with “Head Honcho” Crud recruiting various dobbin musicians to keep the Javelin soaring. With Crud on vocals and guitar he provides the consistency of their performance. On drums, Gwion Griffiths puts in a great performance and delivers a contemporary drum style to an otherwise “classic” punk sound but keeps it very much true to the genre. Bass was provided by Tracey Howarth and after turning the dial up gave everything that was needed to give punch to the sound.
The second thing I noticed about the band since the previous encounter was how confident and “relaxed” everyone appeared, but don’t be mislead, this was an energetic performance that once again took me, grinning, back to my teens and planning a climb into my loft to retrieve my UK Subs vinyl in the morning. Whilst angry, snarling and quite manic in delivery there was a real air of fun from this trio and they engaged with the sparsely attended room encouraging vocal exchange from their fans.
Stand out tunes for me were Nazi Line Dancers Fuck Off and Boys With Beards, the latter being the closest you will get “guitar wankery” from this guitarist with an almost Psych Rock stoner sound… unusual..but tasty.
Teeth Crack are a very specific flavour, that to be honest, could be a challenge for a lot of people to grasp, but sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and look for the good things in life. James Barrington Cooper is the lone arranger and uses an array of devices to provide a soundscape that had me thinking of 1980’s horror movies, very early Human League (Travelogue), and Tomita. With looped filtered tones and samples glued together with beats, it provoked a trance like state of mind that would probably be a more appropriate accompaniment to a LCD session. What was missing for me, was some kind of visual stimulation. If it were me, I’d be looking to expand the show to use projections and lights to give the full audio visual feast.
OK.. last but not least, enter Lolfa Binc, It was an uncomfortable opening to their set. Attempting to have a seamless merge between the exit of Teeth Crack and their entrance, there was a repetitive looped tone which caused actual physical pain. I looked around the room to see if it was just me.. I was not alone in my discomfort.
As I watched with puzzled interest at the frontman, Rhys Trimble who had reminded me earlier of a Miami Vice styled Feargal Sharkey with drumsticks tapping out rhythms on various items in the room, littering the floor with what looked like random words and pages of text, I wondered what was in-store for us. This was a trio made up of drums, bass and vocals. The drum and bass (with octave effects) giving a groove backbone for the artistry and eccentricity of the Trimble to, what appeared to be, randomly screaming words and lines from the papers on the floor.
This was no ordinary performance in any shape or form and could easily be lifted from the walls of The North of Rhyl to the Arty Warhol studios of New York. The Technique of lifting lyrics by pulling random words from a hat has been well documented in Bowie biographies, but I’ve never seen it done live and if nothing else, means that every gig will be unique…
Overall the evening was fantastic and entertaining and may not be everyone’s pot of char, but with both Teeth Crack and Lolfa Binc offering a pleasant discomfort forcing the listener to explore the world outside the norm, it is at very least, mad as a box of frogs… and don’t ask me what the thimble was all about.. I’m still wondering…and that’s the point isn’t it?