Thursday, 18 April 2013

White Hills, Gum Takes Tooth at Cargo - 17 April 2013

Ego Sensation of White Hills

It’s the first sign of spring.  There are more people sat in the garden at the back of Cargo than there are in the venue itself.  It’s a lovely evening and the company is pleasant.

Cocking an ear, I can keep tabs on the bands inside. Or so I think.

By the time I enter the room itself, my old friends Gum Takes Tooth are in full swing.

This is the second time in less than a week that I have seen them, and I find it interesting how the sound mix (and a certain familiarity with their material) changes my perception of the band.

At the Dalston Victoria Jussi vocals had been much louder and Thomas’ drums much more obviously electronically treated. Tonight it’s a much more low key performance and a more organic sound.  And I do enjoy the way that Jussi kind of slides across the floor while he’s playing with his various knobs and dials, like a modern parody of the Egyptian sand dance. I like them more than last week and I wasn’t really averse to them then.

I had seen Dave W from White Hills wandering about the venue earlier. This is a man who has the number of Alice Cooper’s stylist – heavy black make-up around the eyes and long straggly shoulder length hair surrounding a craggy face. Lots of leather and jewellery and he’s good to go.

Dave is accompanied on stage by the wonderfully named Ego Sensation, her dyed blonde hair flying in all directions as she pummels her bass guitar. She is a rock goddess in red and black.

The trio are completed by Nick Name, who is out of synch sartorially with the other two, looking as though he has just wandered in from the garden outside, but who makes his mark by being an absolutely shit hot drummer.

White Hills specialise in loud groove-led psychedelic space jams that take you on a wild ride to the outer reaches of your ever expanding consciousness. By which I mean that there lots of extended guitar solos and effects pedals.

There are more vocals than I had expected, W and Sensation attacking their mikes in unison, their voices echoing above the sonic onslaught.

The set races by. When the three musicians locate the sweet spot of a towering and protracted riff they are very good indeed. I find myself jiggling from foot to foot, which is pretty much as close as I can get to dancing.

The evening finishes with me deaf and happy and I gleefully buy a tour CD from the divine Ms Sensation.  Great stuff.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Gnod at Dalston Victoria - 11 April 2013


The Dalston Victoria is a shabby and rather battered looking pub on the outside. There is a bouncer on the door. It’s not particularly inviting.  Inside, there is a pervading and rather noisome odour that I eventually track down to the Thai curries that are on offer. These don’t seem that inviting either.

There is a sign on the door that gives the running times for tonight’s bands. It is quite clear that these are wildly optimistic.

Tonight is an Upset the Rhythm promotion. This means that you can be sure of two things. That there will be great music and that the evening will run in a chaotic fashion.

We are eventually ushered into the back room to be confronted with drum and noise duo Gum Takes Tooth. 

Things start promisingly. There is a lot of electronic equipment onstage and this is used to good effect to distort the sound and rhythm of the drum kit and assist the vocalist, who spends much of his time shouting down what appears to be a small handheld megaphone with the end taped up.

There is nothing wrong with the band that couldn’t be solved with an ‘edit’ button. Drummer Thomas is impressive and vocalist Jussi looks like a scuzzy janitor from a Scooby Doo cartoon. I’m happy with them both, although they do rather outstay their welcome.

After a brief hiatus the room is set for Gnod. And Gnod are a revelation.

From their recorded work I had mistakenly formed a mental image of a band with long hair blasting out spacey and psychedelic rock music. What I actually get is a dark room piled high with electronics and strobe lights and lots of musicians slaving away over their equipment like an infernal sweatshop.

Gnod have eschewed the stage and have set up their banks of gear on the floor. This allows the crowd to press right up to them.  Not that this is possible, as the way is barred by a howling vocalist, screaming his lungs out through a microphone that distorts his voice and adds it to the thunderous cacophony.

This is wild music that feels like standing in a gale at the top of a cliff. It’s all around you, lifting you up and buffeting you about. The darkness adds to the experience, the strobes like flashes of lightning that momentarily illuminate a musician pounding away at a bench of wires and dials.

It’s disorienting and wonderful. This electronic music sounds organic and dirty rather than calculated and clean. It’s the anti-Kraftwerk and more akin to Rough Trade era Cabaret Voltaire (if the Cabs had been strapped to a Saturn rocket).

Time and space mean nothing and such is the volume and power unleashed that it continues to whoosh around your head even when the band have finished and left the room.

Gnod is good. Gnod is great. Thanks be to Gnod.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Bibelots, Council Tax Band, By Starlight, Type Two Error at Sebright Arms - 5 April 2013

By Starlight

(Of course I was gonna use this photo)

I’m out tonight because I need to see some people. About some stuff. Once our plotting is completed we head down to the tiny basement that lies beneath the pub.

First band on are Type Two Error. There are three of them and they have a lean and hungry look about them. The singer/guitarist gives us a no nonsense stare. He is one of the generation of English vocalists who were lost to the influence of Liam Gallagher. Although he mixes things up a bit, the predominant noise is a sneering, very nasal whine. And, as is the case with Mr Gallagher, it works a lot better than it ought to.

The band rock along nicely and it’s a solid start to the evening. I learn later that two of them used to be in The Cooper Temple Clause, which explains their competence and dynamics.

We become aware of a bit of a kerfuffle down the front. The supporters of the next band, By Starlight, have grabbed chairs from upstairs and plonked them down facing the stage. It’s either a very enterprising or arrogant move depending upon your viewpoint.

By Starlight are another trio, two girls and a boy. Their name seems to reference Smashing Pumpkins and in their publicity they cite influences such as Hole and Pixies. However, although those bands are certainly in the mix, the real inspiration is the biggest band of that era, Nirvana, specifically in the ‘In Utero’ period.

So we get a terrific combination of hard rock married to actual tunes and proper vocals over the top. If I had a seat, I’d be standing on it. Really enjoyable stuff.

The next band hail from my own original neck of the woods and have saddled themselves with the appalling and largely ungoogle-able name of Council Tax Band. And they are enormous fun.

Taking their cues from the likes of Art Brut or The Chalets, this is serious pop with a smile on its face. The singer is chatty and funny while the keyboard player slides and crawls over her instrument and is obviously thoroughly enjoying herself.

Council Tax Band really warm your heart and cheer you up. I’ll hopefully see them again.

One of my guilty secrets is that I quite like Kasabian, who I think make interesting and inventive music for the masses, but who rather let themselves down by acting like complete arseholes whenever they come within range of an interviewers microphone.

The last band of the evening are Bibelots and they are the answer to my self-imposed dilemma. They sound so much like Leicester’s finest, that  Kasabian could take time off and allow them to record an album and tour in their stead. And they seem like nice chaps into the bargain.

It’s catchy rock music with an electronic sheen. There are big choruses and major tunes. I’m well chuffed with them and only the lateness of the hour prevents me from staying for the entirety of their set.

Tonight I’ve seen four bands on spec and there’s nary a duff one in the bunch. I’m especially taken with Council Tax Band and am very happy with the others. Well done all round.