It’s not so unusual to see a heavy act take over The Bird these days, but The Pissedcolas, always uncommon faces in the scene, like to remind us of the limits of our sound equipment once in a while. Their newest release, a 12″ vinyl offering, will extend this to the stereos of their fans, but to launch it this drone/psych/garage/distortion group took roost in a packed Bird with a host of other bands. Continue reading LIVE REVIEW: The Pissedcolas at the Bird, 21.08.15
The sheepish collection of young men herded onto the stage to accept both the (metaphorical) crown and the (literal) sweaty handshake of the exuberant Magnus D Magnus could have been any band tonight, but after their glitzed-out performance garage punks Cool Band were all the more embarrassed to win. Continue reading LIVE REVIEW: The Big Splash Heat #2
If James Baker weren’t already cemented as a Perth rock legend in the eyes of the 350-odd punters who turned out to the Rosemount on Saturday night, by the end of the evening that much was certain. Amongst the gaggle of old guard dredged up to perform old classics in celebration of Baker’s marriage to Catherine Podger, the drummer played behind five acts, as Dave Faulkner playfully introduced him during Le Hoodoo Gurus’ set: “The man of the hour… or two and a half hours, really!” Continue reading LIVE REVIEW: Le Hoodoo Gurus at the Rosemount Hotel, 06.06.15
To the uninitiated, Peter Bibby is a folk character, instantly recognisable in flannel and akubra, glimpsed the previous night tending to an unfortunate soul levelled by security at the Rosemount Hotel. Tonight is his gig, starting early at Mojo’s with Rabbit Island and the Bibby corner of the room particularly rowdy. Continue reading LIVE REVIEW: Peter Bibby at Mojos, 24.05.15
Corey only knew a few songs by The Murlocs, but was convinced this gig was destined.
“You know, I get up this morning, making some toast, turn on rage and they’ve got the guest programmer right? And the second song she plays is Murlocs’ Adolescence!” For the rest of the line-up, a solid turnout of friends and fans to Four5Nine packed out the bar, already sweaty for popping punkers Kitchen People. Continue reading LIVE REVIEW: The Murlocs at Four5Nine, 18.04.15
“Good riff party!” Pressing the mic close to his face, Shit Narnia frontman Hugh Manning pulled in the night: “Mad riffs, good party!” The grungey line-up of Foam’s kin picked for their EP launch and filtered through the brain-numbing bass of The Bakery fell together like riff to riff as the night grew into Foam’s set. Continue reading LIVE REVIEW: FOAM EP Launch at The Bakery, 27.03.15
First published by God Is In The TV Zine, 9.02.15.
There’s something discomforting about a front who can snap straight into his act, something ingenuine about a musician posturing like a switch flicked in front of an empty venue. With the band WªLL, the gangly young frontman Kieran Welton shuffled awkwardly towards the mic and peering across the audience – few and all giving the stage a wide berth – looked set to launch a mopey shoegaze set, only to lurch into a spasmolytic, screeching performance at the drop of the first note. But ingenuity is the theme of Future of the Left’s show at Clwb Ifor Bach, opening the year with these incomprehensible post punks – a, ha, wall of shrieks, driving bass and tricky guitar riffs crossing through each offshoot of punk; and definitely punk, but where WªLL is taking it remains obscured.
Egged on by the space and mopey thudding of his companions, Welton chucked himself onto the floor and writhed around in unrestrained – stiflingly calculated – throes at the feet of the few audience members game to come close. There were three. This self-violence gave face to a jagged scowl, propped up in flannel as he picked out claustrophobic circles, his dress shoes held together with duct tape. The band, for the most part, ignored him, sulking on stage over a swamp of sound, their companion’s screams sucked into the murk and indecipherable. These kids are ingenuine and in their ingenuity, ingenious and genuine, and rightly praised for it.
Ingenuity is mentioned in regards especially to the second act, The St. Pierre Snake Invasion, though this is a contentious issue: the venue packed out as they took the stage. The frontman, Damien Sayell, a charismatic wall of muscle with a mane of red hair and vaguely zen-themed tattoos, immediately took down the microphone to plant it amid the crowd, the band’s promotional materials promising “colourful language, bodily fluids and the ritual humiliation of audience members”; the front row was right to be wary. Sayell took to pacing in circles as he warmed up to performance, and each circle came just that tiny bit too close – that dominance dialogue, asserting his position.
Give them this: they got people to dance, a feat in Cardiff. The crowd love St. Pierre Snake Invasion, parading songs like ‘The Great Procrastinator’, ‘Jesus Mary Joseph Talbot’, and ‘Braindead’, all of which are the definition of post hardcore given the cock rock treatment: big, dumb and loud. Sayell continued to pose – his voice and presence are powerful – and circle over the crowd, but coming to their “ritual humiliation of audience members” act, ‘Hey Kids! Do The Choke Stroke’ – about Michael Hutchence’s alleged death by autoerotic asphyxiation – he picked an unwilling participant and was defensively thrown off. His act fell flat into vague gestured apologies after attempting to wind the microphone cord around the throat of the unconsenting audience member, unceremoniously retracted. Showmanship aside, you must be able to gauge your crowd to pull off these theatrics, and the challenge of approaching the one person not engaging was a risky move for Sayell. This time, it let him down.
Punk gigs by nature attract a mixed crowd. The music is an expression of aggression, and that attracts two main groups of people: small-framed outcasts who harbour private, inward hostility, and the physically dominant expressing hostility outwardly, the initiators of moshpits, the louts, the thugs, the masculine energies who ultimately chewed up and swallowed punk rock for its minority originators. With their humour and hands-on shows, tonight playing to the home crowd, Future Of The Left were bound to attract a throng of both. In the five minutes of set up I enjoyed one of the latter (who will later be launched off the stage to an unsympathetic audience) resting his head on my shoulder to read my phone screen in my hand (shooed off with a “What the FUCK man?!”) and moments later his breath blown on the back of my neck from where he’d been shuffled back in the crowd, putting on an innocent face when I turned around.
And I can complain and complain – the lout easily three times my size who grabbed my wrist so tight he left cuts bleeding down my hand where his nails dug into my skin, the entire cup of Peroni poured down the back of my top – yet still stand here and say ‘gig of the year’. Future Of The Left delivered. Their setlist was scattered across the decade they’ve been active opening with ‘Kept By Bees’ and ‘Lord Hates A Coward’ and flushing into ‘Small Bones Small Bodies’ and contemporary ‘Bread, Cheese, Bow and Arrow’ with seamless grace and but a sneer from the infamously sharp-tongued lead Andy ‘Falco’ Falkous. Greeting and banter were civil with each song sharp and punctual; a band so well-rehearsed, so to the book, that it becomes obsessive, a razor-edged accuracy. The lout element of the crowd soon heckled the easily-baited Falkous into banter over“fuck Nigel Farage!” Swallowing a grin like a mongoose happening upon an unguarded pheasant’s nest, he shot back: “But the hazard in fucking Nigel Farage is he might orgasm, he might obtain pleasure from it! And we don’t want that…”
Pack down ‘Johnny Borrell Afterlife’, ‘Beneath The Waves An Ocean’, and ‘Manchasm’ with the trademark Juno-60 broken out under Falkous’ and bassist Julia Ruzicka’s fleet fingers. Another exchange:
“Fuck the Stone Roses!”
“I’m concerned by your obsession with sexual violence. ‘Sexual violence rarely solves anything,’ my mother always said. Wise words from a wise woman. ”
“Fuck the Stone Roses!”
Another grin splitting through the cynical countenance. “ Well, if anyone is looking for sexual violence, this man is happy to help. And speaking of sexual violence!”
And a seamless segue into ‘You Need Satan More Than He Needs You’, a grunting, awkward ode to a Satanic orgy ruined by the weather. A Future Of The Left set hurtles on, not with fear or boredom, but rather urgency: a lot to say and a limited time to say it, delivered so fast the subtleties of their humour and sentimentality tends to become scattered across the dance floor. A smirking cover of mclusky’s ‘No Covers’, a brief exchange in which drummer Jack Egglestone sells a beer from behind his kit to guitarist Jimmy Watkins, a missed cue ignored; still Falkous will take the time in an introduction to set distortion just right, to change the mix, levels, foldback, shooting keen glances over the audience’s heads to the sound crew. Watkins entered the crowd, enveloped, flicked one kid in the head, offered a mic to another. Falkous and Ruzicka prefer to take a less hands-on approach, keeping their distance; but closing in on a final medley of longer, less structured songs – ‘French Lessons’, ‘Lapsed Catholics’ and ‘Singing Of The Bonesaws’ for a few – Falkous’ comparatively petite form was eclipsed by the shadow of a large, very drunk mosher who climbed onto the edge of the stage, spreading his arms out as though to embrace Falkous, basking in the stage lights. The mixed ploy of uncertainty, disbelief and amusement in Falkous’ grin could have been spread on toast.
“This is beautiful,” he remarked, snide, “Really beautiful. But we’re going to have to make it somehow less beautiful.” No reaction. The man continued to bask.
“Come on now. Come on.” Coaxing had no effect, the audience giggling under his berth. “I love you,” blurts the man.
“No, you love an idea of me. And I’m sorry it has to end this way. But someone get this bastard down so we can finish the show, eh?”
The man gracefully launched into the crowd which gleefully parted for him; it’s doubtful more than three pairs of hands caught any part of him. The medley played off before descending into a calculated chaos as Watkins passed his instrument to an audience member and Falkous began steadily dismantling the kit beneath Egglestone’s drum line. Sticks were distributed among the crowd, at mechanical pace each skin and cymbal is being pounded by a different person. Falkous turned all his pedals on and rubbed his guitar against a tom. Ruzicka entered the crowd. Watkins passed around a mic to incomprehensible howls. The cacophony has no structure. No swell. Just thudding, screeching, then abatement – a slow beat on a single hi-hat, random bass notes. Then silence. Julia and Jimmy will be selling t-shirts and records at the back stall, thank you everyone, and goodnight.
Post-script: Following the publication of this article, Damien Sayell contacted us to clarify the situation:
“Thanks, but just to be very clear, I did not try to put a cable around someone’s throat. At that point in the song I usually put the mic down and have a dance, I went to give the microphone to the person at the front and through what I thought was shyness declined to take it. I tried to rest it around their shoulders much like I did to person afterwards and obviously they weren’t at all happy with that. […] In hindsight I can see exactly why you thought that I was trying to simulate hanging. Terrible, terrible timing on my part. […] I’d just be mortified if people read this review and concluded that I was some kind of GG Allin cunt. A cunt, perhaps yes. Almost certainly. A GG Allin cunt, I’d hope not.”
‘Future Of The Left At Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, 31 January 2015’ by Richard Moore.
LIVE REVIEW: DOCTOPUS / HUSSY / DARLING RANGERS / SURF RABBITS / KITCHEN PEOPLE / PISSEDCOLAS
Saturday 20 September 2014 at 208s
There is no live music like live music a foot away from your face.
208s, a makeshift venue at best organised by a group of industrious, tolerant music fans in a residential home just behind Maylands’ shopping strip, has remembered this in a time when small venues are hard to come by and younger or niche bands struggle to fill out large ones with a scattering of fans spread over large dance floors. As you trudge down the empty night road and through the dusty gravel car park to the open back door to 208s, the faint drone of the Pissedcolas’ ‘Mind Detergent’ buzzing through the brickwork, there’s no question what you’re in for. A faint smell of weed and sweet cheap beer hangs in the air around the doorway, with a kitchen-cum-foyer filled with instruments and a jar labelled “Soundproofing Fund” on the table, then inside the dimly lit hot room of 208s, ear-busting PA, plastered wall to wall with band posters, and the deaf white cat Sheba perched on the middle speaker oblivious to the slaughtered sounds around it.
The Pissedcolas started the evening with a grinding set sounding tighter than ever. Though battling the heat and the cat’s twitching tail over his pedals, guitarist Fabian Rojas’ sulky vocals opened the night well to a small gathering rapidly growing in the dim backlight of 208s, and with aspirations to the studio in a few weeks they’re rightly locking down on their unique, drilling sound. Their set jittered and throbbed through the brickwork before dissipating into the hot night air, with the guests pouring outside for the change of guard. Around the corner a girl moans to her friend that it’s so empty – never seen it so empty. There’s a piece of lemon in the bathroom sink. Kitchen People are on next.
An off-shoot of Fremantle’s lauded Hideous Sun Demon, the Kitchen People took the floor tonight debuting new rhythm guitarist Charles Wickham, a recruit from Aborted Tortoise, to supplement their sloppy blare with a sharper backlight towed in during intermission. Drummer Thomas Cahill cast long shadows over his bandmates, unanimously engaged in a twitchy little pogo with lead Jake Suriano’s self-conscious cheekiness countered by squirming guitar solos and Dean Eyeball typically throwing his gangly frame about the sidelines. Announcing “This is a song Jake makes me sing, it’s called ‘Planet’,” he attempted to swallow the microphone hands-free, though the equipment put up a fight of its own before being handed back to Suriano. He checks his phone mid-song, juggling mobile, guitar, microphone and lyrics scrawled in texta on his forearm, as they launch into punk-by-numbers closer ‘I Don’t Mind’; “It’s about Jake’s passive progression through life,” claimed Eyeball, then beat a hasty retreat to the band’s closing bars.
The Surf Rabbits, filling a slot for line-up pull-outs, piled into the room boasting short skirts and their own theme song. With vocalist Sarah Taylor bouncing over to scratch the white cat perched on their amp behind its ears, lead guitarist Dave Owen crowed into the microphone: “We are Aborted Tortoise! Or if things go really well we are the Surf Rabbits!” Their rockabilly surf style brought dancers a light-hearted, fast paced set with shrieking Owen matched head to head with Taylor, with songs about sex (‘So Good!’), the scene (‘All Perth Bands’) and monsters (‘There’s Something In The Pool At Adventure World’) picking up the mood only to have it immediately destroyed by the Darling Rangers.
For the first show the Rangers had 208s stuffed full, with gritty solid rock of an instantly familiar Australian ilk backing black-clad lead Drago ‘Drage’ Lyons as he staggered in small circles wailing and screaming with his eyes fixed somewhere in the middle distance of a bad trip. Having produced an organ and a boat hat from seemingly nowhere, the Rangers pressed deranged Lyons into violent throes, collapsing onto the floor after a sheet of lyrics and dragging the mic stand into the audience with him. The clutching, frenzied audience had as much idea of what was happening as Lyons as he wrestled with his mic, narrowly missing an audience member to slam into the wall.
Hussy entered next, an all-girl group with a shrill warble over garage rock with a poppy bounce. Their lead Shinead Ruby stunned with an impressive clear voice like a marble rolling down a course, Hussy’s brooding sound throbbing under chiming vocals and indelicate drum lines. The large band population – five in this one – beckon the audience closer as second vocalist Marcia D’Souza stepped in with a casual air that cooled the night down, welcome after the Darling Rangers’ previous display.
After a brief intermission outside the immense and stoned Doctopus rolled onto the floor, with bedraggled frontman Stephen Bellair getting approximately half way through the first song before producing a spliff as fat as his finger from thin air with a cry of “Hey, buddies!” as he gestured around for a lighter offered by an audience member. The dim lit room stank of sweat, weed and spilt beer as it filled with smoke and heat, the spliff juggled around the audience and finally back to one leaning forward to expel lungfulls of smoke into Bellair’s face as he belted along to bouncing crowd hits ‘Social Anxiety’ and ‘Chronic Fatigue’. The mood dissolves at the set’s close into a settling haze of perspiration and THC, with Sheba ushered around the beer-stained wood floors as 208s started the laborious job of collecting discarded bottles and the crowd filtered out into the night.
‘LIVE REVIEW: Wrong Side Of The Tracks at 208s’ by Richard Moore.
LIVE REVIEW: OMI PALONE / MARS TO STAY / LUVV / BLACK FUNGUS / ARTEFACT
Friday 5 December 2014 at the Abacus Rooms
First published by God Is In The TV Zine 8 December 2014
Posing laxly beside the ruins of an upright piano demolished in an art show earlier that week, Omi Palone’s drummer Jack Gillis umms and errs over a challenging question: if he can’t say what genre the band is, then who would he like to be. “George Harrison,” he answers at last, only to be pulled up by their bespectacled lead, Philip Serfaty: “Harrison? Really? He did that awful song about going on holiday, remember. What was it?”
“Yeah! How’d it go? Troppo, gone troppo, troppo / it’s time you know I gone troppo!” Serfaty pulls a sneer. “Lazy.”
If tonight’s line up – a full five bands, hand-picked by Twisted’s Jon Mohajer from the Cardiff and surrounds scene to play at the Abacus Rooms – are anything to go by then ‘lazy’ is an honest criticism. Serfaty and Omi Palone are anything but, tonight marking the penultimate night on their most recent tour with Black Fungus, finishing at Drill Festival on Saturday. Serfaty says it’s been mixed, with their London date rammed to the door while their opening show at Sheffield’s Tye Die Tapes was played to about four people – early afternoon, he bemoans, but at least they got the night off in Sheffield. Drunken slurring about recent pornography bans to a Manchester crowd neared obscenity violations. Now they’re in Cardiff, along with incestuous line up Artefact, LUVV and Mars To Stay, and enjoying the peace. In front of the merch table, three quarters of Artefact’s lineup argue about the relative skinniness of their black jeans.
Artefact are on their second name in as many shows, and boasting an electric sound and image already after just one performance at Buffalo last week. Sharing members with Mars To Stay, the evening’s slowcore representatives, Artefact are a world away with an early post punk sound, raw, open and clean. Each song is a new offering of quivering guitar with the blunt bass providing structure, brooding lead Hannah Saunders’ plaintive chant laying beneath the scratching guitar. Mohajer appears on bass, pumping out severe, aggressive riffs spat over by their blonde guitarist. Though their sound suggests early darkwave musicians like the Banshees and Bauhaus, there’s something ripe and younger about Artefact’s sound – the track ‘Poisonous’, scored over by Saunder’s crying ‘you’re poison!’ has a taste of dark psych, something more colourful than the monochrome squeals of those early punks. In his throes Mohajer manages to pull his pedals off the top of the bass head, with Saunder’s gloomy Sandman-esque act lifting into a smile. “One sec,” she cuts in before Mohajer’s amp howls with feedback then launches straight back in, ten times as loud, and races to their close.
Black Fungus, Omi Palone’s companions on this tour, are a more mature assembly of gaunt faces and plain blacks. Their music too speaks of something more raw, drawing influence from Australian, German and American punk traditions, a clattering noise with Ed Shellard’s baritone vocals in turns between chant and bark. Tamsin MI, behind the kit, plays with a nervous energy and skill rarely seen – there’s something electric about her, and it’s instantly apparent that she has left contact for another zone behind the music. Mark Jasper’s bass provides a punchy undertone to Shellard’s rapid fire, saw tooth riffs, dragged out with distortion into a trade mark frustration and resignation that bring Black Fungus into a level of their own.
When LUVV take the small, tucked away stage their roughness stands out: from the bassist’s broad shoulders and wide stance to the tattooed, skinny frontman. On their page they have filled their members section with “all people are pigs,” and standing before us they form a ganglike, insular group, playing to each other with bolted, aggressive vocals spat by the slurring lead as he dances around the mic as though in a ring and dodging blows. With a piercing tom beat this bad is thunder, a motor behind their frontman with muggy bass as their first guitarist grinds mindlessly into his Gibson. They churn through their set with simplistic lyrics and the band powering along behind: stand out track ‘What You Need’ gives the crowd much needed energy after the brooding prior bands, before the lead singer introduces their newest member, whose name might be something like Kerrigan. “He’s a good one,” he announces, met by a jeer from the crowd: “He’s a wanker!” “You’re not wrong, you’re not wrong,” he concedes, and launches the band into a song titled ‘Drphds’ on the setlist. “I will be your drphds,” he sings, with the band exchanging fleeting looks of confusion and panic behind him. But fuck, it doesn’t matter. What a tune.
Mars To Stay, an oily, reverb throbbing two piece playing patent loose slowcore ballads, face each other in the stage area, politely greeting the audience before continuing their set. Spaced and delicate, their drummer sings with a distinct folk-like style, distant and lonely befitting the name. Each song guilds over reverb and treble with the careful vocals settling on the tracks to gently roost, thoughtful and meditative with the guitarist spinning two movements from his six strings. Each song rises and drops like this, finished with kind, soft-spoken acknowledgements, creating welling atmospheres inside the gallery’s backroom for a curious audience.
Omi Palone take the stage tentatively to this quietly interested audience, the band ever concerned about keeping top quality – particularly after the loudmouthed Manchester gig. They cruise into their set with their signature sound coming easy: melodic, tricky melodies woven over a simple, catchy beat from Gillis into songs part pop, part some other animal. The crowd immediately turns to dancing with enthusiasm, caught up in these quick-footed tunes ringing of American, Australian, Bunnymen; Liam O’Neill, the band’s bassist, betrays earlier the influence of Australian underground music and New Zealand label Flying Nun on the band’s sound, while lyrics such as “You’re not getting older / you’re getting younger!” echo Serfaty’s talk of active doing and taking opportunities at hand. Their new wave aggression plays simply off of Serfaty’s charisma as they push into their single, ‘Singled Out’, from their latest self-titled record to thundering percussion and cheers, until, outside in the gallery, they swear to come back to Cardiff soon – and we look forward to seeing them, any excuse to get our creative punkers out for the night and into the city’s galleries.
‘LIVE REVIEW: Omi Palone at the Abacus’ by Richard Moore.
LIVE REVIEW: LOVE INKS / HMS MORRIS / OH PEAS!
Friday 28 November 2014 at Four Bars at Dempsey’s
First published by After Dark Cardiff 2 December 2014
With a humble hello Oh Peas! opened to the small crowd at Four Bars, jumping straight into clangy tales of social awkwardness with a thin grimace as the audience stuck against the walls. But hell, put chairs in a venue and that’s going to happen. Oh Peas! is Rosie Smith and her bumbling tunes are equal parts embarrassed and sad, cheeky and restrained: let the clumsiness be an act, as her music has its own life and charm beyond her small grey cardigan and blonde bob. Opener ‘No Ships’ features a quickly lost line, “now I’m mentally undressing you”, and Smith, flustered by the cheers finishing each song, flashes a tight grin and tucks her bob behind her ears. With her sweet voice and bare chords played with loose, quick wrists, Oh Peas! brings a joyful, honest poppy sound to the night before offering the remaining nine copies of her album, Shades Of Intolerance, to the crowd. Two go in a heartbeat. Luckily for us, this one’s available forever online.
HMS Morris take the corner stage with Heledd Watkins’ thick accent crowning over ‘Gormod A Ddyn’, a sweeping English take on their Welsh track with Watkins’ short, abrupt guitar line digital over Sam Roberts’ stirring, atmospheric synths and samples. They swap places throughout the set, with Watkins taking up station at the keyboard while Roberts produces a heavy, surging bass below their ambient, swilling psychedelia. Watkins’ voice is full of emotion over the washed out synth like a white tide, something she attributes to a flu with a cheeky grin with Rosie Smith heckling back: “Sounds lovely!” “Thanks!” Taking samples of Watkins’ voice for ‘Gold’, an English version of their release ‘Aur’, the rest of this swirling and majestic track is built around this and Wil Roberts’s strong drums.
Love Inks finally join us with a dirty bassline and Sherry LeBlanc’s powerful voice. Balancing herself with grace and moving from toe to toe with the swaying thud of the drum machine, LeBlanc looks dragged down from the tour but her voice is unyielding. Kevin Dehan’s beachy guitar backs up their cover of David Essex’s classic ‘Rock On’, updated with LeBlanc’s intimate vocals telling a personal story – introducing their next song as written for Yoko Ono, there’s part of this 70s American avant garde underbelly in Love Inks, cleaned up by the tour’s promotional material but plain to see in person: from Dehan’s greasy hair to their stripped back performance Love Inks do their heritage proud far abroad. They pull through the ropes of ‘Blackeyes’, from their latest release ‘E.S.P.’, lamenting that their second album never left the states as LeBlanc introduces their last few songs: “This song is a prayer about getting out of Austin. It’s gonna sound like a dance song but it’s really a prayer.” They finish with ‘Wave Goodbye’ on a low-key hymnal, lulling but rocking all the way from Austin.
‘Love Inks, HMS Morris and Oh Peas! Review’ by Richard Moore.