Friday, 19 December 2008

Dimension X/Doddodo/Scul Hazzards - 16/12/08

I came in halfway through Scul Hazzards and I was digging it but something was lacking. I caouldn't put my finger on it. It was all in the vein of Jesus Lizard, Big Black... sharp noisy guitars and that. Quite fat, plodding bass. Not up to the standard of those bands but the comparison is fair enough. Somehow they failed to get a rise out of anyone. I think they were just boring to watch. Yeah, they were just boring to watch. Oh well.

I haven't seen Doddodo for about three years. She's doing the same stuff really. A bit less hectic but still, same old Doddodo. Which isn't a bad thing because she's a very entertaining little cute pocket sized sweety who does something pretty unique, very Japanese and oddly theatrical. And hip hoppy. Good fun.

Dimension X being as it is Chris Corsano drumwunderkind, the awesome bass guy from Zu and some other guy on guitar who is a sixteen year old looking guy, put on a decent show with plenty of improvisation let down only really by the bass amp breaking early on and being replaced by a distinctly less fat one. The slightly crap sci fi related dialogue samples could have been left out but otherwise yeah, nice one.

Chrome Hoof - Cargo 12/12/08

Chrome Hoof put on a good show but every time I see them I'm just waiting for them to do that one ultra heavy bit with the gladiator mask right at the end of the set.

That shit is straight from some cosmic hell type shit.

Monday, 15 December 2008

ATP Nightmare before Christmas curated by The Melvins and Mike Patton 05-07/12/08

Everybody was ill, including me. We all missed everything.

One thing that happened of note was that Bad Guys performed their debut gig in a chalet on saturday night after Squarepusher kicked out. Most of the festival attended and every single one of them was high, I think. Having had one rehearsal and come up with five minutes worth of material, it's pretty admirable that Bad Guys managed to play for how long? Like forty minutes I think? I dunno, I was gone. The set ended when Jared from The Melvins decided he simply had to get in to the by that point bursting chalet and broke the amp.

The bill was £450. The Butlins people looked confused by the footprints on the ceiling.

I lost my voice again.

Oh yeah, and Porn were fucking great.

The Locust - Bardens Boudoir 04/12/08

I love seeing The Locust play live. They really live up to their name, sounding like a horrifying swarm, operating with a hive mind. It's brutal, aggressive and impressive. It gets you riled.

I headed straight to the epicentre of the pit as soon as the set started and held my ground there throughout, witnessing kids getting brained on the ceiling protrusions and having their glasses smashed underfoot, and suffering leg-breaking, rib cracking crushes myself. Multiple times one particularly brittle young boy was thrown forth into the drumkit, eventually fucking the bass mic and causing The Locust drummer to throw a hissy fit and complain that people were being rowdy.

That, actually, was the one downside to the night. It's become apparent to me through seeing interviews with the band and seeing them live a couple of times that they are basically dicks. Or at least certain members are. Which sucks because they play like fucking demons. Oh well, I woke up the next day feeling like I'd had the shit kicked out of me for an hour and feeling like it was worth it, and feeling like how the fuck am I supposed to go to ATP for three days and nights and not die now?

Agaskodo Teliverek - Buffalo Bar 02/12/08

After taking part in Kania Tiefer's mass hypnotisation of every straight guy and lesbian in the place - the result of a combination of an impeccably cute belgian accent, silly euro-nonsense performance, sports socks and short shorts - I picked my jaw up off the bar, tucked my approval into the waistband of my jeans and suffered the offensively bland Three Trapped Tigers who sounded like the kind of stupid future version of the world which people imagine is Utopia but is actually mindnumbingly unentertaining to the point of making you feel suicidal. In a bad way.

Then Agaskodo Teliverek step to the stage and Jesus Christ Hiroe looks fucking insane she's wearing a Patrick Bateman raincoat over a bikini and she's one month short of giving birth. Her screaming has got better since last I saw this bunch of peculiar hungarian surf grunge dance pioneers (although not a patch on the screaming she'll be doing in January, no doubt). The whole act is regimented and tight and performed with military precision, admirable considering the psychotic, schizophrenic style of songwriting on display and it's obvious these guys are serious about their fun music, which is good news for us.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Hulk Dash 6 - Korsan Bar 29/11/08

The free barbecue was cancelled! Disappointed, I hoped the acts would make up for it, they were certainly abundant enough to give it a shot. So abundant in fact that I kept missing them simply by going out for a cigarette.

Highlights included the end bit (the only bit I caught) of Ghouls of Reduction's noise noodlings, extnddntwrk's confused terrorist playing confused music act, **k's bricklaying paced set that amounted to a skyscraper and Toxic Pijin's raucous bread throwing music. Special mention must also go to Cementimental for flipping some switch in half of Ghouls of Reduction's mind and sending him satellite dish smashing loco, rolling all over everything and kicking in drums.

The only lowlight was Smash T.V. who were being irritating luminous dicks all night, displaying the kind of skinny wideboy bragadocio that makes you want to take an axe to their faces and culminating in a giant, shithouse, audibly garish jerk off set of shit MCing over shit gabba and the type of bleeping that makes you feel like you're being poked in the head by the local fuckwit. And the fuckwit is wearing a hat with shit graffiti on it. And an ironic bright red unignorable sweatshirt. And that was it really. Luckily they were last so leaving during their bouncing shitfest wasn't an issue.

But lets not let that detract from the rest of night which was bloody good fun. Thanks Hulk Dash, see you next time.

Zaimph/Bridget Hayden/Library Tapes - The Miller 28/11/08

Why is it everyone from Iceland sounds the same? Melancholy ambient strings and twinkly piano like snowflakes melting into tears. Way to reinforce stereotypes Library Tapes. You've even got the wooly hat to go with it. Why are you crying in the corner go buy a happy lamp.

Bridget Hayden: Boring barefoot cross-eyed bowed guitar bullshit with faux ethnic chanting. Boringboringboringboringboringboringboringboringboringboring

I saw Hototogisu a while back and it was pretty good, pretty solid guitar noise shit so I thought hey maybe Marcia Bassett will be good by herself and you know what? She was alright. Quite nice. Quite Euphoric. Not totally special. Bit boring. But professional.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Racebannon/Trencher - Lexington 27/11/08

If my memory serves me correctly (which it rarely does) I used to watch Trencher every week a couple of years ago. Now it seems their shows are significantly thinner on the ground, but no less heavy on the ears, or on my ears at least. Tonight the crowd, which was about ten people strong, was made up of vegetables and the whole performance seemed to pass everyone by, including Trencher. But I enjoyed it well enough. Their casio-horror-metal sound is easily recognisable and they've crafted a decent repertoire out of it, nothing spectacularly good, but they're solid and I'm glad they're still going. All the best to them.

I'd heard Racebannon were supposed to be 'freaking ace' or something, but to me it was more like 'freaking tell your vocalist to leave'. The guys with the instruments are cool. They look like they still practice in their parent's garage. They look like spotty metal teens in thirty-five year old bodies and they play like they look, which is to say they are unabashedly heavy and unironically metal. But the singer is a big whirling curly turd who should whine and wiggle about someplace else.


Friday, 21 November 2008

BBBlood/Legless/Mutant Ape/Horacio Pollard - The Foundry 19/11/08

This American dude Legless has come over and put on a one-off noise gig at shit-art arsehole shithole bar/post apocalyptic teenager's bedroom The Foundry. So I go.

Horacio Pollard plugs a bunch of pedals and a mic and a tape machine and a guitar into a big amp and gets angry in front of everyone while he fiddles with it all. Rolling around on the floor, the noise seems to be working directly against him and the more he protests the more subdued the sound becomes, like he's shouting it down. It's a unique set and really very satisfying.

Onwards and downwards, Mutant Ape plays background drone loud enough for it to enter the foreground. Like a record run-out groove straightened out and laid down a dirt path, slowly going nowhere.

Curator Legless is up next. What new sounds do you bring from America good sir? Good sir I have travelled from America to bring you no new ideas at all. Enjoy! He rattles a tin around to little effect as his trite distortion does little to stimulate anything. Very done. No need to do again.

Then, like a huge fucking bright red beacon of hope, BBBlood headlines the night with an excellent display of total brainfuck horror noise. Ten minutes of highly invasive surgery, lung and gut disrupting bass and high frequency saws cutting your skull into bits. Fuck yes. The Baron stakes his claim as top London noise dog by bayonetting your spastic heart into submission. Beautiful.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Monotonix - The Luminaire 13/11/08

Ten quid advertised, turns out it's twelve and no support. And the trains to Brondesbury are down for the month. this better be worth it.

Having seen them do their three man party thing at ULU earlier on in the year it was a no-brainer deciding whether to go to this or not. I'd be surprised if there was another band with such a huge disparity between CD and stage performance because seeing them play is like taking a trip to the circus. With an extra long forty five minute slot to fill they really need to pull out all the stops so we get a mix of the usual bins on heads, drums on the bar, pint stealing, ass mooning mayhem, with some new tricks in the mix like an acrobatic intro, a bit of stand up and a drawn out funeral and resurrection improv section outro. All this is fine and entertaining and it's all good vibes and partylicious and everything but let's step back out of the fray for a moment, go and lean on the bar and watch it play out from beyond the scrum.

Do they sound any good?

Yeah they sound fine. They're not amazing by any stretch but they've got some good riffs and they've got a good drummer even though he's rarely got his whole kit available to him. The part of the music that's lacking is the vocals, which pretty much do nothing except provide an excuse for the main clown to be there. Don't get me wrong, I like these guys, I love watching them play, but I don't go for the music I go for the laughs, and I wonder how long the gimmick is gonna last before people just sack it off and complain that the main dude basically smells and I wish he'd stop touching me.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Sun Ra's Arkestra @ Hokaben Festival - 93 Feet East 09/11/08

Illness, Stockhausen and money prevented me from attending the friday and saturday night of this decent looking festival that had been in my diary since summer, but I mustered up the energy and the twenty three quid necessary to get down on the sunday evening 'cause Sun Ra's Arkestra were on and despite the glaring omission of Sun Ra in the band due to him being dead, I figure they must be worth seeing anyway.

In the run up to that I see a few other acts, one of which is Lords who have somehow managed to amass a decent following despite sounding like Reef. Ok, that's a bit harsh, it's just the vocals really. And the guitars.

Some other crappy bands played like Rolo Tomassi and, I dunno, some others, including one band called I'm Being Good who, despite spouting vocals weaker than an eight year old with ME and their unconvincingly heavy guitar generics, did manage to have a really fucking cool drummer with that 'pro-basketball jew' look, slam dunking snares and bass drum in your face meester.

With all that out of the way the Arkestra plodded on stage in their sequined space travel ponchos and did some jazz music. Headed up by Marshall Allan (who I saw in Denmark last year playing with a terrible group of kids) they worked their way through a selection of fun time freaky licks before delving into a bit of Duke Ellington, some early Sun Ra stuff and eventually just kind of settling into a more trad sound with a kind of token Arkestra trip inflection underneath it all. It was initially brilliant. Just a shedload of real fun, but by the time I left it had descended into what one might call 'a good wedding band', if one were to be a little harsh. And one is.

The fact is the older, more longserving members of the Arkestra looked pretty apathetic (it's in the eyes, and the way they can't even be bothered to put their special outfit on properly), or like they just plain didn't want to be there (checking their watch after each solo). And I got the kind of impression that no-one liked being bossed about by Marshall Allan.

It's unrealistic to expect something akin to a classic 60's freakout performance, especially considering the main man is dead (or on Saturn or whatever) but I think it's fair to set your hopes a little higher than a slowly deflating balloon of a set, considering the credentials of those involved. It was just pedestrian, which is not what you want from intergalactic travellers, but I suppose even spacemen gotta pay the bills.

London Sinfonietta play Stockhausen - Southbank Centre 08/11/08

First up is 'three songs for alto voice and chamber orchestra', which commences once the giant conductor Oliver Knussen heaves his way onto the stage. The three pieces are constantly at odds with themselves, jerking and flowing, evoking an air of dread one moment and goofy frolics the next. The effect is enhanced by the alto whose resolutely no nonsense voice is offset by her zany facial contortions, all inquisitive and laughing and frighteningly stern as if in the throes of a particularly strong microdot experiment. She looks so confused whilst perfectly fronting the sinfonietta you imagine she might have been bestowed with this incredible vocal power minutes before being thrust on to the stage. Perhaps it comes from the magnificent green velvet dress she's stuffed her toad-like german bosom into, like the singing equivalent of football's Billy's boots.

In fact much of the enjoyment is garnered from watching the various personalities evident within the Sinfonietta, an activity at least as entertaining as the music itself. The nimble fingertips of the hulking conductor and the intense concentration of the barely used xylophonist are two particular highlights, and so it is that when the second section is presented, completely pre-recorded, with the lights out and nothing but the suggestion of a full moon (one spotlight) left on stage, that events become significantly less delightful. 'Urantia' is a great swirling mass of electronically manipulated string sounds with a lone soprano emitting drone notes over the top as it all gets panned around in glorious surround sound in the dark. The result is nausea, plain and simple, followed by a sense of admiration for the effectiveness and tenacity of the piece, followed by a premature desire for the interval. It comes eventually.

For the last section a different iteration of the Sinfonietta appears on stage, sans German lung muscle, and play (for the first time in the UK!) 'Zodiac', which is fine and dandy and suddenly becomes elevated to highlight of the night status when from out of nowhere (stage left) a ruddled man appears with a tuba and deep farts in the silence. The tubby tubist then proceeds to plod about the stage, stopping intermittently to deliver another preposterous pomp, much to the crowd's amusement. After a circuit he's done, he bows, he leaves and the Sinfonietta finish off the piece.

A pleasant, if somewhat accidentally amusing, evening.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

ATP Release The Bats Halloween Party - The Forum 31/10/08

Wow what a great line-up, glad I got tickets before it sold out, this is going to be one hell of a halloween, I just hope it isn't ruined by security staff who despite mostly being black and not 1940's Germans, think being a Nazi is fucking right on.

There is no need. There is simply no need for it because there is not going to be any trouble at a gig whose audience consists solely of indie kids, most of which are over thirty and the rest of which are twigs. And why can't I have a cigarette until half nine? And why do we have to walk clockwise into and out of the dancefloor area when there is literally no congestion at all. Who is in charge here? Please leave.

Oh right, the bands. Lightning Bolt are good but their stack falls way short of filling this large venue. Plus it's half six. How the fuck are you supposed to listen to Lightning Bolt at half six?

The beer is £3.50 a can and they pour it into a plastic pint glass so you get a non full pint of non draft beer. Fuck you Forum.

Pissed Jeans are fancy dressed and rock semi-dissappointingly, with the singer doing a drag act that's so convincing it's distracting and ultimately has you wanting them all in jeans and t-shirts just rock n rolling and no fucking about.

"You cannot stand unless you are standing in front of a seat".
"But I'm not blocking an aisle, or a fire exit or in any way whatsoever being potentially hazardous or inconvenient to anyone".
"That is not the point".
That is exactly the fucking point.

Om are the same as every other time. It's fine but quite frankly, I don't want to go back in. I like it outside with my cigarette. Back in the free world, you know.

Les Savy Fav are crap and blurry.

Shellac have the best costumes (Steve Albini makes a great mummy and Todd Trainer is a vampire) and they rock because they always rock but their staid old palette of songs isn't enough to make up for all the shortcomings of the night and I leave a few tracks before the end and wait outside for my buddies with a bitter taste in my mouth despite all the sugary fake blood around it. I've had a good time but nothing compared to the potential of the night.

Maybe I'm just pissed off 'cause my Jojo the dog boy costume was a failure, but I wouldn't have won the competition anyway. No, that award has to go to the Forum itself, for its incredibly convincing 'fascist state' disguise.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Gang Gang Dance - Hoxton Bar and Grill 11/10/08

I don't know really, I guess these guys are ok. I mean the singer is a good performer and the band has a lot of energy and a nice vibe to their whole thing but there's something in this muddle of dance and psychedelia, pop and rock that doesn't sit right with me at all. It's all schizophrenic. For everything they do right, they do something wrong. The singer and the synth guy are exceptional, the guitarist and the other guy - the bassist or whatever - are unremarkable. For every infectiously groovy surprise, there's a dire tribal trance version of My Bloody Valentine.

I'm all for experimentation, but their style seems to me less 'musical discovery' and more 'chaotic whatever' and at the end of the day, it's tiring listening to a fucking mental yoyo.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Alexander Tucker/Sculpture - Cafe Oto 08/10/08

Alex Tucker is fucking boring.

Sculpture was great. I mean, he was actually pretty excellent with his messed up dance music and his messed up mic style, in spite of the shitty set-up they have there at Cafe Oto. Go Sculpture.

But Alex Tucker is fucking boring. I sat in front of him and fell asleep immediately. Then I woke up and walked out.

That's my review.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Captain Sons and Daughters - The Stone, NYC 26/09/08

Completing a trio of visits to my new favourite place on the planet, The Stone, I come tonight to witness a two piece, man and woman, junk and organ, Captain Sons and Daughters. I come on a newfound friend's recommendation, and it's well placed. The duo start up with the dude creating subtle loops on his collection of metal boxes with dials and switches and wires sticking out them, while the dame plays long drone notes over the top on her manually fanned organ. It all sounds very aged, a long worn and sepia toned sound, like they're tapping into something that has been playing since all this was just fields. As his extended delays constantly fade and replenish themselves in slight variations a railway momentum is gathered and her organ delves into melody, it's all so lovely and heartwarming it's like seeing your grandparents smile at each other.

If it hadn't finished I could have slept there and used the sound as a blanket. So comfortable.

Manorexia - The Stone, NYC 25/09/08

Jim Thirlwell is the curator for september at The Stone and tonight he brings his own Manorexia project to the stage, or at least the bit of floor where you imagine a stage would be, if The Stone wasn't so damn humble and minimal and so fucking god damn cool.

So it's a performance of fairly creepy, subtly exciting and wonderfully rendered pieces, featuring three lovely ladies on violins, one equally lovely lady on cello, one super chap on percussion and xylophones and whatnot and the foetus J.G.Thirlwell himself on laptop.

The least noticable part is played by Jim and frankly I have trouble figuring out exactly what is coming from his laptop, but it's unimportant. The whole thing is easily enthralling enough to pop me out of my Brooklyn Beer induced premature semi-slumber and raise the hairs on my neck. It's not horror music, but it is subcutaneous and it is impressive in its execution to the level that makes you sick and delirious with awe. It rolls and changes and surprises you. It is a show that finishes with you immediately walking up to buy a CD despite knowing that there is no way it can recreate what you just witnessed. It is one of those rare shows that makes you feel exceptionally lucky to be in a certain place at a certain time.

It is what it is all about. It is why I go out.

Andrew WK - The Stone, NYC 24/09/08

So The Stone is a little place John Zorn set up as a 'not-for-profit performance space dedicated to the EXPERIMENTAL and AVANT-GARDE'. Just a tiny room with some fold out chairs, a grand piano and no lock on the toilet. It is a fucking cool place. Every month a different artist curates two acts a night, six nights a week. That's a lot of music.

The door is inconspicuous, a corner near nothing else, 'The Stone' in tiny silver letters by the handle, but it's easy to spot the place tonight by the line (this is America so it's a line, not a queue. I learnt this) of hip kids outside. Pourquoi? Andrew WK is playing. A solo improvised piano set. What am I supposed to expect from this? His reputation is firmly rooted in how hard he parties not how well he makes stuff up on the piano, but I figure it's worth checking out. And it is.

He walks out, shorter than I expected, in a white suit and sits and fiddles with a couple of keys. He continues to fiddle with the two keys while developing a light melody over the top. Soon he's in the middle of some very nice, delicate, quick and repetitive piano piece, reminiscent of Steve Reich, maybe, only the bits that sound off are more accidental. He continues on, surprising the fuck out of me a few times before coughing into the microphone, uncertain of what to do next. A few false starts and jokes starts and a shaking head. The mood is exceptionally light. An um and an ah and he's off and his ass is out the seat and he's singing wop bop a loo bop and shaking his legs about and he's had enough and it's 'thanks everyone' and he's off back through the door to the basement, sweating a little.

I leave feeling more confused about who the fuck Andrew WK is than when I went in. Regardless, whatever he is he's alright on the piano. I know that much.

All Tomorrows Parties New York - Kutshers Country Club, Monticello NY 19/09/08 - 21/09/08

I went to New York baby. This is what happened:


I take the Shortline bus from New York City to Monticello in the Catskills, upstate New York. It's eighty degrees out and we cruise along the highway as the leaves turn colour and the daytrippers park their SUVs by the chrome diners at the side of the road. There's Madlib on my ipod. It's the last thing I'll ever play on it before it disappears somewhere in the three day blur waiting to kick off at the other end of the bus route, at Kutshers Country Club.

Kutshers has charm. An erstwhile golfing suave-hole rendered semi-creepy kitsch from lack of modernisation. The chandeliers are square brown glass affairs, the wallpaper peeling and as Patton Oswalt points out in his friday night stand up routine, "David Lynch could shoot here. Just turn up and fire his set designer 'cause all his work's done for him". Friday night is all about the stand up for me. There's a bunch of bands playing a bunch of 'classic' albums on the main stage, but nothing that appeals enough to distract me from the jokers. I catch the end of Joe DeRosa, I laugh a couple of times. I watch Maria Bamford play the funny freak, occasionally lapsing into just plain freak. I see Eugene Mirman deliver a consistently chucklesome set, as satisfactory as a well timed light lunch. And I take in Patton Oswalt's set, as long as the other three combined it delivers the lowest lulls and the heartiest lols of the night. Funny guys.


Must have got fucked up after the comics 'cause saturday I woke up wanting to eat pancakes for breakfast for the first time in my life. We go hitch a lift to a giant Walmart. I say it's giant I don't know how big a regular Walmart is but this thing was huge. There were giants in it too, scooting around in electric trolley cars, buying giant sodas and giant bags of Cheetos. Giant TVs. We get to a roadside diner and go all 'when in Rome' ordering fries and steaks and a stack of pancakes and coffee, coke and OJ. The woman at the table next to us is ninety and talks thick bronx like an eighty a day New York narrator. The waitress is fat, black and friendly and fucking perfect.

The sun is so bright. The roads are so wide. The liquor store puts the vodka and rum in brown paper bags. We take a cab back to Kutschers with some Californians, all nice people, covered in sunshine. Everybody all weekend is nice people. The day is spent drinking in the heat by the boats by the lake. Smoking cigarettes. We just don't bother with anything else. I don't see Alexander Tucker play but he see's me dancing to the tele through my bedroom window. After half the acts have played I finally drag my ass to go see Edan and Dagha, doing this whole thing of rapping about rapping while scratching and mixing, whilst scratching and mixing. I get it you know. Rappers need to learn to rap about something that ain't rapping, how good they are at rapping, how their rapping is better than other rapping or how they can rap and do other shit at the same time. You don't see guys in bands playing guitar and singing over the top about oh my god see how I play the guitar whilst singing as well. More people should rap about Satan, the dark lord of hell. Or something. I digress though, and Edan was actually pretty entertaining. Like really good cabaret or something. He even wears wigs. And Dagha did a stellar job of standing next to him, occasionally saying shit and fucking about with an echoplex. Blah. My flask is drained.

Oh I have to go film Low. My god I cannot hold a camera still. This footage is useless. This band is boring. Go back to the room and drink to Shellac. Wait it's too early to start drinking to Shellac. Oh shit. What's that? Lightning Bolt were great? Weren't they playing straight after Shellac? Yeah. Fuck. Fucking Rum overdose. Fuck it. Wasted. What a waste. Well, I'll stick the general consensus in here, in lieu of a first hand review. Shellac and Lightning Bolt were both awesome. Of course they were fucking awesome, they're always awesome. They're awesome bands. They're live bands.

Afterwards some guy is playing Mario music on the grand piano in the lounge area. It's one of my favourite sets of the weekend and it's from a punter. Straight up. Stomping on those keys like goombas.


Whoops. Fucked up that night huh. Ok let's get some work done. Let's film everything today.
Le Volume Courbe. Jesus it's barely even lunchtime. Pfft at this weak-ass twee-ass ass-music. Pfft right at it. Music for people whose toes point inwards. Who's next? The Wounded Knees? Did I even see them? Might as well not have. Sunday is boring to look at. I'm falling asleep looking at the line-up. It's bands with a capital L after the b. Gemma Hayes? Good Lord no thanks. If I wanted those vibes I'd sit in a cake shop full of babies. Hold up, EPMD are playing. how on earth did that happen? (Gawd bless ATP) They're a total anomaly but thank fuck for that. Here they come, old motherfuckers playing to the whitest crowd they've ever seen. They declare that they are going to school everyone in the meaning and essence of real hip hop. Hooray! No-one has ever done that before! Good job EPMD. Well, you're entertaining and all, it's a bit weird all your mates just hanging around on stage with you but whatever, I like your raps. I like your rapping ways.

I don't like Mercury Rev and then I watch Mercury Rev and I've gotta admit, I liked watching Mercury Rev. It's not my bag you know, but it's clear these guys are experienced in the art of performing music. And so they should be, because they're old. The singer looks like a faun in some fantasy theatre production and he keeps pretending he's flying. It works, somehow. It's a big sound. Over on the second stage I don't like Trail of Dead enough to be bothered to write their name out in full, but they did ok. They made a little bit of the ceiling fall down, which is pretty cool in my book. No-one was hurt though, which was boring, and the set maintained a level of excitement which didn't match up to the energy they all seemed to be putting in to it, which is probably somehow bad for the environment. Their fans seemed to love it though, but they're fans of Trail of Dead, so who cares?

Next up was Mogwai, a band I have somehow seen quite a few times despite not liking them at all. Every show a boring load of durr. A load of building up to nothing. Now I don't know if it was the setting tonight, I don't know if they were on tip top form playing the tip top cream of their catalogue, but they raised hairs on me. There were pay-offs at the end of the slow climbs. They were trudging up those mountains and when they broke through the clouds at the top there was beauty there for everyone. Bravo those Scots.

After avoiding Dino Jr and avoiding writing about Brian Jonestown Massacre because yawn, so all that's left on the bill was the main event, the curators of the day, My Bloody Valentine, and people were excited all over. I already reviewed MBV at one of the Roundhouse gigs in Camden earlier on this year and this was more of the same except I wore earplugs for the famous holocaust finale because last time I damaged my ears. The first time around tipped this one but probably just 'cause it was the first time around. Still, it was special and a real fitting end to the festival line-up, all noise-talgic and dreamily brutal.

Once MBV was over I got to put down the camera and pick up the vodka. A drink by the lake, a drink in the bar, a dance, a girl punching me trying to get me to dance with her like that's gonna work (it might), closing time, a party of twelve (approximately) left on site, a man with a speaker on his back like the pied piper of indie leads us to the shack from Friday the 13th on the other side of the lake, run down and beat up and full of mattresses and no electricity. I leave and howl across the lake to a party of stragglers. We get back to the jetty and running jump into the lake as the sun starts to rise. The security return us to our room where I shower then wake up elsewhere, back in the lounge area by the grand piano, several hours after checkout.

We have a three hour wait at the shortline bus station so we take a walk around Monticello. It's quiet. The trees are beautiful. The houses perfect. I could move there, I think. I could read all day, I think. Sit on my porch, I think. Then I get on the bus back to the city and when I see the Manhattan skyline I remember how much more exciting it is having people around. And I realise that I had a really great time at ATP, but it wasn't the music, and it wasn't even the setting. It was the people. It always is. Every last one of those friendly fuckers.

Mark Kozelek w/ Sun Kil Moon - The Scala 17/09/08

I absolutely expected Mark Kozelek to be an intolerably depressed guy. I love a lot of his music but I understand that he can write it because he's had a lot of shit in his life like wife cancer and dead parents so I thought man I'm looking forward to this but I'm not looking forward to him being all sad and shit, moping around like a donkey. I was so wrong. So so wrong. The guy could have done stand up.

He comes out and he looks like Elvis and he says how y'all doin and people murmur and someone says how are you and he tells us about his uk tour, how he's spent the last two weeks travelling around really shitty places playing to small audiences consisting solely of fat guys with backpacks.

His set is so nice, like a wind-up toy perpetually winding down, everything slow and delicate and haunting, everything covered in dust, evoking nostalgia despite the absence of memories. He plays variations on recordings, extended tracks and complete reworkings. They have movements really, they have prologues and epilogues, musically and lyrically, and there's magic in the transitions. It's so damn sad and beautiful.

And he plays all night.

And it's perfect.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Secret Chiefs 3/Zu/Skullflower - Cargo 16/09/08

As is fast becoming a regrettable habit for me, I missed the first act - Skullflower - due to arriving at a reasonable time, rather than a ridiculously early one. This is unfortunate for Skullflower, as it means I can't review their performance on here, one of the most reviled blogs on the internet. I mean respected not reviled, thast was a typo. And thast.

So I'll give you an approximation of haute-couture-porn peddler Mike Keelin's review in lieu of my own, because he got there early enough to see it, because he lives thirty seconds walk away. This is what he said: It was alright, droney.

Sounds good to me.

So I arrived, got some wine and took a trip to the Zu and they were dirty heavy. I mean even all of their instruments looked physically heavy. Low slung pendulous bass, brassy mammoth sax and, well, the drums actually just looked like any drums but they sounded bad-ass and it all came together and it all sounded crushing, the rhythm section so weighed down, anchoring your neck to the floor with a cast iron chunky bass choker and embellished chain-link drum riffs, while the sax flew around above you and got tangled in your hair like a god damn jazz pipistrelle. Maddening, but so satisfying. They reminded me of Noxagt, but with a saxaphone, but somehow without reminding me of Ultralyd. What I'm trying to say is that they rocked. Really hard. And they jazzed hard too. It was all in my ears and eyes and all over my face. The jazz. And then I had a cigarette.

So I smoke and drink wine and then it's back for the Secret Chiefs 3 and their so-crazy-how-could-it-not-work approach to genre blending. Heavy meddle psych-reggae from the fiddle east served with a bowl of thick guitar singapore noodles. What the fuck is this music and how does it not sound like nonsense? The fact that all of the musicians in the band are fucking awesome probably helps. Seriously, these guys are tighter than spandex and ten times as fun. They jerk on stage like parodical robots, luxury metal, and launch magnificently into a well lubed irish/arabic mindfuck fiddler on the roofies sound. A staccato flow. It's a thing.

Maybe they'll play again in another twelve years. You should see them if they do. Don't take acid though 'cause it wouldn't make a blind bit of difference.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Deerhunter - Rough Trade East 13/09/08

Never been to a free gig in the huge new(ish) Rough Trade store just off Brick Lane before. I wondered how it would work, how they'd prevent shoplifting and how they'd make it sound any good. Turns out they just don't bother. I guess the clientele at Rough Trade East are assumed to be too twee to steal anything and too busy jerking off in their pocket over the generic indie boys on stage to notice the shitty sound.

Who cares anyway? Deerhunter play pretty regular indie rock (but wait, indie rock isn't a sound it just means independant rock! No it doesn't you know exactly what it sounds like stop being pedantic) and pretty regular indie rock is pretty boring but has it's moments. They played five or six tracks of their 'neutered Sonic Youth' sound, of which approximately one track achieved the heady heights of 'ok'. That was its 'moment' then. One of the main problems in enjoying the set arose when I realised who it was the singer sounded like. It'd been irking me for the first few tracks before it hit me: He sounds like Bono Vox. And that was it, now I can't like Deerhunter. Oh well, no great loss huh. Still I feel sorry for the guy, not because he's got that skeletal condition that makes you look a Tim Burton creation (that's indie, it suits him) but because he now, to me at least, sounds like the most arrogant prick on earth. I'm sure he's not. he only came off as mildy arrogant when heckling the audience during a technical failure. "Like talking into a void" he said. Yeah well maybe if your band had any substance we'd give a shit.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Queen of Swords/Teeth - Old Blue Last 11/09/08

I think they were called Teeth, that's what it said on the website, but all I could see was legs. Really great legs. Sure there was this surfs up looking dude on a laptop playing diddlywiddly acid rhythms and some hip guy on a stripped down drumkit bashing along but really all I could see was the legs on the girl singing. At least I think she was singing, I couldn't really hear her, or I wasn't listening. It was some ra ra ra kind of stuff I think. Anyway, my god what a set of pins. Great band.

Then Queen of Swords came on and did this synth heavy horror set that was very satisfying, all drone and drum fills. A nice hefty sound. Some guy behind me who I've never met in my life taps me on the shoulder and jerks his chin at the bassist and tuts and goes "playin' with his back to the audience innee, tsch, TURN AROUND MATE" to which my response was a confused nod of agreeance because I didn't really know why he thought it necessary to tell me that and inwardly I was of the opinion that I hadn't noticed because I was just listening to the music and who cares if he's facing the wrong way because he's a fat dude and I don't care what his face looks like I don't want to gaze longingly into his eyes or anything - the dude is just some fat dude - but obviously this guy has a problem with it and I don't want to upset him. Guy looks ready to flip and I don't want to die at the hands of a man who has a problem with bassists that face the wrong way. That is not what I want at all. That was it though, that was all he wanted to say to me and once that was out of the way I got on with the business of enjoying Queen of Swords. Which I did with ease because they're very good.

Later on I stole an ashtray from another bar because why the fuck not.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Faust/Shit n Shine/Goodiepal - CARGO 02/09/08

I arrived late so Goodiepal is going to be reviewed by a special guest person, Kaya from Pighole Records, because I liked what she said about it last night. Be sure to come back once this post has been updated because she hasn't done it yet. Oh but no-one reads this blog so who cares.

UPDATE UPDATE, KAYA's REVIEW ARRIVED: they're like the band in Godard's weekend. a drummer, singer and one market seller talking nonsense. nice thing to see at the beginning of the night.

I've seen Shit n Shine a few times now. Tonight was good, I'd rate it in the middle somewhere, overall. In fact exactly in the middle, between the first time I saw them (worst) and the second time I saw them (best). I'd rate it second. Out of three. Silver medal I'd give it, if I gave medals to specific performances of bands. I don't. I wish they'd change up their drums a bit. Three quality drummers but not enough drumming. Ain't that a thing? Echellento guitarings though. Very delicately manipulated feedback. Very satisfying.

Then comes the Kraut stylings of der Faust band. Starting out sounding like Phil Collins (what on earth was that) but a spot of likeable improvisation later and it's into party arty mode as the main midget grey German hippy goes all french grins and funky bass, the giant mashes the drums, the greasy sleezebag harasses the guitar and the amdram failure woman overacts on eggshaker and dire vocals. You can bug out to that. Then comes the chainsaw and live painting followed by the chainsaw passing through the live painting. It's not usual, but it's not particularly good either. It's mildly entertaining is what it is. I got some MDF in my eye. Some art-debris.

Oh and all the staff were assholes.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Le Couteau Jaune/Melviß Tibet/Team Brick/Sputniko!/Real Feel - Korsan Bar 28/08/08

Melviß Tibet lives upstairs in my house but today she was on the floor in the Korsan bar playing a guitar through some cymbals with a friend, Helen (maybe not called Helen but I just don't know). Eking subtle twangs from their unorthodoxly amplified instruments, they soundtracked a dingy mindset under the roar of rude conversation at the bar, to a select audience of three hooded cult members sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the left amp. I watched from the side and slightly feared for their wellbeing. But in the end, nobody was hurt.

Mr Brick was up next, a one man team machine fueled on caffeine and nicotine. He sang well, played the guitar badly and sporadically made rackets the likes of which would have Roger Federer saying 'there's been a misunderstanding, this is a different type of racket to the one I need. Look it up'. I doubt Monsieur Bricko cares though, as by the end of his set he's off in Morocco charming snakes. The snake was all GET A HAIRCUT. And Brick is like thanks very much, good night.

Then who was it? Oh yeah Real Feel. They were essentially boring with short flashes of hmmmm maybe and extended sections of naah. Very school. Miklos of super-psycho-hyper-surfers Agaskodo Teliverek joined them afterwards for a birthday jam session which came out more like chutney but at least it had some taste to it, even if it was a bit onions.

Sputniko! was a lot easier on the eye than the ear but then garish bleeping jumping up and down ffwding j-pop isn't my thing. I think her equipment ate too many Smarties.

Then I saw Le Couteau Jaune dressing up like heroin parrots. I didn't watch them play but I've seen them before and that's why. Very, very, Shoreditch.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Howlin Rain/Magik Markers/Mothlite - Corsica Studios 15/08/08

Mothlite are bits of other bands, good bands like Guapo and Chrome Hoof, but they were only good fifty percent of the time, mainly just when they sounded like Guapo. The rest of the time it was just whiny vocals and wanky attitudes. Alex Tucker was on backing vocals. Beard.

The last time I remember seeing Magik Markers was at the Luminaire ages ago, I think they played with Lightning Bolt or something, anyway, there was a bunch of them then and they were oh-kay. This time they were playing all stripped down to just Pete Nolan on drums and Elisa Ambrogio on guitar twatting and vocals and it was a million times better. Her guitar playing is fucking rubbish and absolutely brilliant, the drumming is clunky, like he's pissed off and bored and just wants to play drums for a bit, and it's all overlaid with bouts of great vocals, really simple nineties charm and great tits. Elisa is real deal and had more straight up fuck you rock band attitude in her than the rest of the line-up that night put together.

Howlin Rain genuinely wowed me at ATP in may, Ethan Miller made me want to be him. Their cover of You Keep Me Hanging On had me buying a t-shirt. So it was disappointing to see them in pedestrian mode tonight, they looked like they were having a real good time n all but the whole thing just failed to move me. I don't think the pa was up to scratch but then, I don't think the band was either. Everything sounded the same. That's the problem right there.

Magik Markers though. Top draw.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Haunted Fucking/Deathscalator/Broken Arm/Icarus Line - Old Blue Last 10/08/08

Didn't see Haunted Fucking, sorry 'bout that Haunted Fucking but you were on too early. Deathscalator were boring, I think PJ said something like I can hear rock music coming out of the speakers but I can't see a rock band on the stage, I dunno, maybe that was Broken Arm. Fuck knows. Both of them were boring as hell. It was kind of worrying actually because really they weren't doing anything particularly wrong it's just they sounded like who the fuck cares? I'm serious I don't even remember seeing two different bands before Icarus Line that's how invisible they sounded. Oh dear. I got pretty drunk and I walked into a door and really hurt my face. I mean it really fucking hurt y'know, all down one side, the edge of the door slamming into the edge of my eye socket and my cheekbone. Fuck, man. Seriously. Icarus Line played and they were like a weak Stooges so I just went and had a cigarette then had an argument about sex and went home and when I woke up the next day I didn't even have a black eye or a hangover or anything. Maybe I'm a mutant or something I dunno.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Nisennenmondai - Bardens Boudoir 05/08/08

I saw a guy vibrating at the front. A blur. No joke. I've seen calmer epileptics. These girls, they force fits on you. Pale and frail in long white cotton dresses, all three look like ghosts, barely there until suddenly they berserk on the spot. The drummer whirls and flails around, her long black hair never touching her shoulders, her sticks never missing a single one of the million beats she fits in a second. The guitarist stumbles and fumbles and hits every spike just right, just noise enough. The bassist rapidly plays simple three note basslines, solid as a continent and slipping slowly likewise, to form new landscapes.

It's trance music in the true sense of the word. The crowd are the churchgoers and the tracks are the snakes that writhe around them as they hold their hands aloft, reaching for the beautiful place, a place so beautiful it inspired me to write this ridiculous nonsense about churchgoers.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Nurse With Wound - Hackney Lido 19/07/08

It is an odd thing to go to a gig and have all these people you recognise from countless other gigs suddenly rock up in their shorts and bikinis, all milky white and over furry. Reality bellyflops.

The set is a perfectly slow and eerie soundscape. Faint but crisp whispers over fades of tuning forks, dissipating through the blue water as I weave around the listeners' legs suspended below the surface, the hairy roots of pale fleshy trunks. Diving deeper, looking up, the overhanging trees complement the rhythmic creaking almost too perfectly as they sway in the setting sun, and when a grey cloud looms over the lido to the sound of Andrew Liles biting a balloon everything hits a peculiar space between creepy and serene. I spend the end of the set sitting at the bottom of the deep end, staring at these perfect curves in a red bikini treading water above me while a soft french looping vocal swirls down my earholes and off into nothing. Me the creep, the situation serene.

And after it's all over Steve Stapleton asks us all what it sounded like and thanks us for being his guinea pigs and it's good but I'm freezing and I'm shaking and my ears are full of water and I just want to go to bed. I buy a pizza I don't eat and fall asleep watching Ghostbusters.

It's a classic.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Mark E. Smith - Southbank Centre 16/07/08

Not a gig, a talk. Well, a conversation. Well it was supposed to be a conversation but actually it was just a complete shambles. I don't know what they expected. Let's get Mark E. Smith at the London Literature Festival, sit him down and talk to him seriously about his official biography. That'll work. Oh wait, no it won't. There's not a chance that'll work at all.

A pissed M.E.S. saunters on stage and immediately snaps the top off his chat show mic so he's just a distorted rumbling mess until eventually they give him a new one which he only remembers to use about half the time, treating the audience to the tail ends of a load of slurred mutterings. The journalist he's supposed to be in conversation with spends the entire thing being smirked at and getting his questions mocked and the whole embarrassing farce ends after about thirty minutes when M.E.S decides he's had enough and pulls apart part of the stage railings to get out because he can't remember where the door is he came in through.

Highlights include:

  • Answering one of the first questions about the book by simply saying 'I dunno I ain't read it'.
  • When asked to elaborate on what was written about his father and grandfather, responding 'Is that what it says? Pfff I dunno man, you know these things, you've got a certain amount of words to fill so you just have to make stuff up'.
  • When asked what the time is by the journalist, replying 'Time you got a watch mate innit'.
The whole thing made for quite an entertaining evening, really. Well it was better than the last Fall gig I went to anyway.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Supersonic Festival - The Custard Factory, Birmingham 11-13/07/08

I've never been to Birmingham before. It's the home of heavy metal, the home of Black Sabbath, Napalm Death and Duran Duran. It's also a fucking boring ugly piece of shit city. The Selfridges building is so amazingly shit it actually fucks with your eyes to the point where it's impossible to look directly at it. You know a place has problems when the guide points you to a pen museum as a top place of interest. There's a redeeming feature though, the Supersonic Festival. I went. It was great. Listen (read).


Don't leave London in a van on a friday afternoon unless you want to spend five times longer than necessary getting to Birmingham. We arrived ages after Dokkebi Q were supposed to do their soundcheck, which sounds unimportant until you factor in that they were in the same van as me. First thing I did upon getting out of the van was get straight back in because it was fucking freezing. Then I went to the pub next to the Custard Factory and immediately felt at home seeing as it was full of all the same people that are at every gig in Dalston. Makes sense really.

So, two pints and a burger later, the festival starts its oddball friday night line-up. After checking a bit of Cutting Pink With Knives I got to reinforce my opinion of them as being a bit rubbish and annoying and decided not to care at all that it was to be their last ever show. I mean, they weren't totally shit but it's no great loss. The majority of the rest of the evening was spent at the smaller second stage, which was hosting the Osaka Invasion Crew. Whosever idea it was to put DJ Scotch Egg in charge of a stage for a whole night is a brave idiot, but it turned out better than I would expect. His latest project Drumize (previously Baka) played decent, cartoonish prog-something, maybe krautrock, man I dunno but they were entertaining enough whatever they were doing. Next up, fellow van-mates Dokkebi Q put the whole thing into party mode with their quirky but never less than solid dub, supercaner Go constantly tweaking and refining their sound while Kiki laid her versatile vocal skills over the top. Knees did bend, heads did nod.

Bogulta followed with their first UK set and damn it was good. Super-spazzy ultra-fuzzy bass and a drummer whose style could best be described as falling down the stairs style. Some kind of demented drunken master, repeatedly thrusting his junk at the audience and never really seeming to know exactly where the kit was but still sounding not a million miles away from Zach Hill which is a damn good place to be. A damn rubbish place to be, on the other hand, was back at the main stage, where Dalek were doing their thing that everyone goes on about. Seriously, I don't get it. I love a lot of hip hop, I love a lot of electronica, I love when people try to do something different, but I think Dalek are just shit. Boring shit. I just don't see the appeal, it sounds like music for teenagers who think they're dark. They're not dark, they're just rubbish. And they look like shit to boot. All tits and caps.

So I went back to the second stage and watched Ove Naxx, who was fun, at least, even if I'm not really down with his boxing glove on a spring kinda sound. Then when Scotch Egg was on while DJ Rupture took to the main stage I spent a long period sat down waiting for something else because I didn't want to listen to either. Seemingly everyone there agreed with me halfway because no-one was watching Rupture. It was odd. I felt kind of sorry for him. Then I remembered that he was playing boring and obvious played out shit and I stopped.

I passed the time waiting for Maruosa to come on by eating another burger then I watched Maruosa then I went back to the van and fell asleep immediately. Maruosa was as insane as usual, writhing around screaming, a man possessed. I was as sane as usual, laying there sleeping, a man at rest.


I walked around for four hours trying to find gherkins in Birmingham. You can not buy gherkins in Birmingham. I'm not joking. I settled for these mini-cornichons from Sainsburys which actually turned out quite well with the pastrami but that shouldn't detract from the utterly unnacceptable attitude that Birmingham shopkeepers have towards gherkins. Fuck you Birmingham. And fuck your shopkeepers.

So after eating my breakfast closer to dinnertime I drank half a bottle of wine and fell asleep then I got up and went to see Black Sun who were kind of shit but doing ok, pretty standard metal band, not really doing too much wrong, until the drummer, before the last track, pulls out a plastic gun and starts pretending to shoot the audience and his fellow band members and himself while - get this - holding the gun sideways and making gun sounds into the microphone without even a hint of irony thereby killing any modicum of respect I had for his band that silly idiot man. Their t-shirts say 'you won't like it' on the back and they're spot on.

Then, after I successfully avoided Alexander Tucker and The Owl Service (because they sound like boring talentless shit and boring twee shit respectively), The Courtesy Group ambled on to the stage to play everyone their average wannabe Nick Cave type shit. Fucking YAWN. I was pretty drunk by this point and decided to get some cake so I went and got some cake and it was great. There's this constant hinting in all Supersonic related promotional literature that there's really great cake there and it's true, there is. I had a big bit of apple and cinnamon and it was great. Cinnamon makes me kind of horny.

Eventually, a good band came on, prog-rocking freakout freaks, Guapo, who are damn good and damn good fun. They sound like they rock because they do, and their instruments sound good because they can play them really well. This is a band who are a good band. This band is good and I like them.

I didn't go see Justice Yeldham because, well, I saw him recently and I don't imagine he's got much else to offer seeing as he'd run out of ideas halfway through his set last time. So I waited for Thrones to come on. This man, Joe Preston, he is a legend. This was one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend and if the sound hadn't been a total shambles it probably would have been quite a time, but the sound was a total shambles and so it was just kind of ok, bit annoying, quite dissappointing, vocals too loud, guitar sounded like shit. Maybe he missed soundcheck or something, I dunno. Frustrating. I'm not sure exactly what happened after this but probably I drank some more drink until Oxbow came on.

Oxbow, man. Damn. Eugene just starts out as King Kong in a suit, then quickly becomes King Kong in some tatty blue underpants, masturbating. Oh dear I think the acid part of the 2-CB was kicking in and it was all a bit much. I was stood a good ten or fifteen metres from the stage and was still significantly worried by him. He looked like he'd be able to jump pretty far if the mood took him. Jump on me and maul me and shake me into a pulp. He looked like he might transform into some altogether different beast at any moment, like horns could sprout from anywhere, or he could suddenly start prowling on all fours like some Gozerian demon ready to eat your face whilst fucking you in the heart. I had to leave to go see Noxagt, which was a blessing, and I turned to Kiki who'd been stood next to me throughout the set and I said 'hey I'm gonna go see Noxagt' and there was just a really old little woman standing there. An 80 year old little woman just standing there looking up at me. I ran away and I think a little bit of piss came out.

Noxagt have a new guitarist. Man I love Noxagt. The tight, heavy, jazz inflected rhythm section under this new noise guitar handler works all mechanic organic like a JCB over-run with vines. Perhaps not quite as good as they have been in previous iterations but still way better than most all of their peers, this set knocked me sideways so hard the next thing I knew I was standing in front of a different stage looking at Wooden Shjips who may as well have been tie died and draped over a washing line. I could barely look at them I think they were using prisms instead of amps.

The stuff was working then.

Something happened and I was watching Battles who looked like a bunch of assholes. Talented assholes, though. The drummer had his crash up ten feet in the air like a dick, but he was amazing. The dudes around him were playing guitar and synths and anon at the same time I mean hammering on with the left hand and keystroking with the right just a ridiculous way to go about things but they have a real good sound like a weird lagging sound that falls behind itself always tripping up like the guitars are running for the train the drums are driving and it works and it's dance inducing which is the weirdest thing. They do all look like assholes though. I left and watched Harvey Milk who are amazing and played for about a week, rocking on, smoking weed, rocking on, smoking weed. The guys look like they met at a garage and just decided to fuck about. I nodded a bit, sat down a bit, nodded a bit, sat down a bit, went to sleep in the van.


Obviously I woke up feeling like a million bucks. A million bucks people had used to snort their drugs through. Me and my gang of fucking excellent friends went looking for breakfast and ended up in this Polish community centre eating giant sausages and three types of salad. It wasn't what I needed at all. Transitional started the day's music as it was destined to go on, really down, really loud, really fucking dark. A concrete wall of industrial noise from two guitars and vocals all forced through a trough of pedals. It sounded like tanks hunting for victims. It didn't sit well with the sausage. I loved it all the same.

Next up, Black Sabbath played in Spanish oh no wait they didn't I mean Orthodox played. In Spanish. These guys, these Orthodox guys, they're so... authentic. Throw the horns up. They look and sound exactly how they should. Metal. Old, sludgy, heavy, metal. Breath it in. Try not to choke on the hair. Seriously fun. Moving steadily downtempo, ASVA, a beast comprising various limbs from Burning Witch, Mr Bungle and The Accused, get everyone's heads lolling at about six nods per minute. With a guitarist who genuinely looks like a dungeons and dragons forest guide and a drummer with a disease instead of hair it's not hard to concieve that these guys actually do go all out Aleistair Crowley on the weekends. Wyrd to your mum, they came to drop bongs.

Like a big fat necessary spanner in the works, Fucked Up bowl onto the stage and play the least fucked up set of the day. Hardcore with a sweet outer shell, a big fuck off gobstopper of a band with a self-maiming Big Mac frontman and some italian kid from the movies on guitar. And the big man cuts his head with what looks like a diet coke can. But he always cuts his head. It would probably be more shocking if he just didn't. After Fucked Up I fucked off and fucked about. I was tired, I was in the dead zone. I sat down. I heard Earth from outside of where they were playing. They sounded the same as ever, just a bit distant. But they always sound distant. They sounded fine. Whatever.

The thing that really swung it for me, when I was thinking of going to this festival, this Supersonic festival in Birmingham, was when they announced that Merzbow would be playing with Keiji Haino. That was it. No way I was gonna miss it. A friend of mine once compared these two to an archetypal anime hero and villain pairing. Merzbow all dressed in black with long black hair and a quiet, brooding persona, capable of unleashing a hellish, destructive superpower at any time. Keiji Haino the androgynous, silver haired smirking wrongdoer, elegant, strapped to a six stringed weapon handled with mad precision. Always in sunglasses. In Kikuri they bring this comic book to life with the highlight set of the weekend. While all around them bands headed to the graveyard for inspiration, Kikuri took a detour to the insane asylum, scaled the iron gate, climbed in the window and got the inmates to rape the nurses while they took notes. A really bad trip. Merzbow sporadically bursts forth with brain grating noise while Haino freaks out on guitar and mutant theremin and summons the weirdest, most horrible singing and yelping from the depths of some terrible Japanese torture garden. Weirdo lungs. When He pulls out some fucked up mandolin looking thing and starts plonking away, every twang turns brain matter to jelly, every scream liquifies another vertebrae and by the time Merzbow gets on the drums and starts bashing your skull in you can't imagine you'll be coming back from this one. Total mind ablation.

I felt sick. Thank fuck I hadn't taken any (many) drugs. Thank fuck there was only one act left before this god damn festival was over. One act to drain away my last remaining dregs of mental competence. Gravetemple. Shrouded in smoke, as usual, O'Malley and Csihar and Ambarchi and that drummer guy push you down with their incessent doom and gloom horror show like an axeman's hand on the back of your neck, positioning you on the block. Csihar's maniacal cackling and deep demonic growling is genuinely unnerving and the sporadic frantic drumming sections batter your ears open to make way for the funereal procession of guitar drones. It's an oppressive sound, the sound of death and decay. Throughout the set the audience drops off one by one, first to their knees, then prostrate, forced into submission by deep mental lassitude. It's conceivable that one day the house lights will come up at the end of a show and the entire audience lay dead, their minds tricked into thinking this is the end of everything. But not this time. One terrifying, earstabbing scream from Attila and the festival is over. Well, apart from Harmonia but they're shit nowadays.

I drag myself to the van and get carted back to London in the small hours, lying in the back, the soft rhythm of the streetlights flashing past the window lulling me to sleep. Fellow van-mate Go puts it like this: "Man, that was amazing but it's so much doom. No more doom man. Too much doom. I can only listen to pop now. Put on some Britney Spears or something".

Monday, 7 July 2008

Comets On Fire - The Luminaire 05/07/08

Arriving just one hour after the band had started playing, I got to witness something like five tracks of psych-country noise guitar wankery which is approximately perfect. Any more and I might be permanently progged out. They sound like a whole era of music where people didn't do ketamine, updated to include ketamine abuse. They sound like NASA plugged into an Echoplex, buzzing Aldrin. By the end of the gig everyone was standing on the drum-kit, playing guitars. That's called rocking out. I love this band. Ethan Miller sweats profusely.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Comanechi/Mirror Mirror/Epideme - The Macbeth 03/07/08

Didn't see Epideme but apparently they are well known for being rubbish so no big deal I guess.

Mirror Mirror were a bunch of good looking young boys who work out and play one bassline and one drum beat and pad it out with some bloody nonsense rubbish. They like to take off their shirts and show off their lovely hairless chests while they run around swapping instruments in an attempt to convince you they're not playing the same thing they just played just now. Not only that but it's been getting played since the eighties, but then, being born in the nineties they're probably oblivious. I liked the little drummer kid though, he was simply darling with his little gold chain and cute little pecs. The singer was wholly repulsive however, by turns scary and camp, a very confused and confusing man-boy. He looked like he might unabashedly rape you with his foot long hairless willy, simply because he'd refuse to believe that being forcefully buggered by him isn't what you want. At all. It was weird. You could see it in his eyes.

Oh I still like Comanechi, they have good riffs. I like the simplicity of it all. It's refreshing, especially after watching five boys on too much fizzy pop. Just simple drums, dirty shouty vocals and heavy fuzzy riffs all just raaarh get some you fucking audience bastards. Good little band that.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Glastonbury Festival of the Performing Arts - Not London 27-29/06/08

I didn't look at who was playing but I got in on a welfare tip in exchange for 'working' a total of eight hours on lost property so I thought fuck it it's a holiday. First thing I did when I got to the festival was buy the world's shittest most expensive burger and pay over the odds for some wellies 'cause chucks just don't cut it in the mud, obviously, idiot. Second thing I did was get twatted and watch my good friend Horacio Pollard play a riotous new set. He's really refined his screaming now, it's quite a thing. That was a highlight of the festival and it was the day before the festival.

The festival proper was just a bunch of shitty bands playing in a bunch of shitty tents to a shitload of white people, half of whom had dreads. You know what the best thing that can happen to a white guy with dreads is? Die in a hole.

Trance is shit.

People who smoke weed as a lifestyle choice are idiots.

The two best things at the whole festival were the only two black guys there, Dizzee Rascal and Jay-Z the rappers. They both put on top shows. Jay-Z imparticular was very good indeed, rhyming words at the end of almost every line he said, and even some in the middle of lines. And at one point, inbetween close-ups of his face, they projected a big picture of Barack Obama, but I don't think many people realised because they are all from the countryside and they've never seen one of those before. They probably thought it was just a bad camera angle of Jay-Z. Curiously, as if in some kind of attempt to leave the crowd feeling like they might have actually enjoyed their sets, both Rasket and Jay-Zed closed with terrible rap/white-music crossover tracks. Regretful stains on otherwise very satisfying sets. For shame.

Hot Chip were shit.

At some point I did some work on lost property which consisted of getting people to describe their car keys in minute detail while I ate free food. Overall the Glastonbury experience was quite good fun but I wouldn't pay £160 for it or bed down with all the scum in scousers' paradise. Fuck that.

See you next year Eavis.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

My Bloody Valentine - The Roundhouse 24/06/08

Really fucking loud actually. Even after people harping on about how the previous nights' shows had been really loud and me being all yeah whatever mate I go to full on noise gigs all the time, I'll take Merzbow with a cup of tea and the sunday paper thanks very much lightweight ears. But they were right and I was wrong. MBV. Really fucking loud. The last I dunno fifteen minutes or so was just glorious, unrelenting noise. Like taking a bath in a wire wool cloud. I liked it so much I had to celebrate by getting totally shitfaced at pubs and waking up on a sofa and being two and a half hours late for work like a twat.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Justice Yeldham - Old Blue Last 16/06/08

So I saw him yesterday, fucking Australian. It was by turns hilarious and sickening, with a consistant underscore of 'a bit boring'. HOWEVER, what really made the night (apart from Queen of Swords who were brilliant) was this hat-wearing guy in the crowd who, while Justice attempted three times to break a thick pint glass over his head, shouted WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT TO YOURSELF STOP DOING THAT TO YOURSELF and then later, as Justice's mouth slobbered blood over shards of glass, implored him to stop his show, exclaiming THIS IS A REALLY FUCKED UP SITUATION, THIS IS A GREAT MAN BUT THIS IS A FUCKED UP SITUATION AND EVERYONE NEEDS TO REALISE WHAT A FUCKED UP SITUATION THIS IS THAT WE ARE IN RIGHT NOW and on and on and Justice tried to pull him up on stage but he was having none of it and he just pushed his way back through the crowd berating everybody in the room before running out screaming.

Even the guy on stage who was breaking sheets of glass with his teeth was taken aback. Superb performance from the hat man.