• Hornication at the Freebutt

    4. Jun. 2008, 20:15

    Tue 3 Jun – Thomas Truax, Freebutt, Brighton

    If there is a fine line between genius and madness I am not entirely sure which side of the line Thomas Truax falls... but I am leaning heavily towards the former.

    Accompanied by an array of home-made instruments (works of art in themselves), a guitar and a loop pedal he gave the most entertaining one-man show I have ever witnessed...

    The first song introduced us to "The Hornicator".. a versatile wind and percussion instrument (an old gramophone horn, with strings, twangy things, a kazoo and other stuff attached to it)

    Next we were introduced us to "Mother Superior" - a drum machine in the truest sense, consisting of bicycle wheels, rattles, drums, cymbals and a horn (some blinking red lights adding the icing on the cake). Watching him "program" it between songs by extending spokes and hooking up little arms and levers was fascinating.

    Deeming us a well behaved audience, Truax then unplugged guitar and came off stage to join us. After having us all stare at a "moon" projected onto the ceiling from a maglite taped to the headstock he started up strumming and singing and was off - darting among startled onlookers a then vanishing through the exit doors, leaving a bewildered silence behind. Ah... but then the sound of footsteps up above as he played his way through the upstairs bar and he was back, reappearing through the toilet door, and so on with the show...

    Musically, Truax delivers a surreal twist of singer/songwriter fayre, delivering his often bizarre, storytelling lyrics over a mix of instrumental and vocal loops - and guitar (which he played for the haunting The Butterfly And The Entomologist using the technique of strumming with the rotating blades of a pocket fan)

    Whatever your musical preferences, Thomas Truax's show is superb and engaging entertainment - I don't think anyone could fail to come away without a smile and some sense of heartwarming that people like Thomas Truax still exist.

  • Part of the Weekend Never Dies : Soulwax Live

    25. Apr. 2008, 9:54

    Wed 23 Apr – Soulwax, Concorde 2 Brighton

    When the likes of Muse and Radiohead become stupidly huge, I have never understood why Belgium's finest export, Soulwax (yes, even better than Stella Artois and chocolate sea shells. And IMHO better than Muse and Radiohead for that matter - oooh gonna get some stick for that!), have always remained somewhat in the shadows ...Not that I mind of course - it means I don't have to pay the best part of £100 to squint at them from half a mile away in a stadium...

    Maybe part of this lack of recognition its because people get confused as to what Soulwax actually are; prolific remixer producers (sometimes under the moniker 2 Many DJs), dance music act, or one of the best alternative rock bands of recent years?

    Well for me, Soulwax are a rock band and I love them longtime. So when they play a local venue I am not going to turn down the opportunity to see them, even if they are going to be playing the 'Nite Versions' dance set without a Marshall stack in sight - and I know that will probably annoy me just a little bit...

    Personally I never really got on with the Nite Versions album (consisting
    mainly of dancey reinterpretations of tracks off Soulwax's superb Any Minute Now album). Add to that tonights billed 10pm till 3am showtime - perhaps a bit much for a school night - and all in all there is a risk of things going all belly-up for me... but ah, how sweet to be proved so very wrong..!

    From the moment the band took to the stage and fired up that pair of shipping-container sized bass bins to the strains of the nite version of E Talking, we were surely in for quite a night. Looking uber serious, sharply dressed in shiny white suits, playing much and talking little, here was a band that meant business. And it was very good and very, very loud indeed.

    So...OK guys, so that WAS pretty good, but WHEN will you be playing some PROPER music again :-) With guitars and stuff? When can I get to see a Soulwax rock set?

    Miserable Girl (Sound very distorted until 0:50)
  • Presidents of the USA @ Concorde 2, Brighton

    17. Apr. 2008, 9:08

    The Presidents of the United States of America, Concorde 2

    How could I resist the chance to see The Presidents of the United States of America come and play a local venue. A blast from the past like this would have been worth making the trip to London.

    I've been out of the PUSA loop for a while and a lot of the set was stuff I'd not heard before - but most of it was excellent. To my ears their style seemed to be sliding in the direction of a bigger hooky rock sound, kind of Feeder / Fountains of Wayne, versus the quirky stripped-down grooves of the classic debut album, but maybe that's just how it sounded live. I'm going to get me a copy of the new album and find out.

    A spot on show - entertaining and delivered with an easy polish. And more moshing and crowd surfing than I've seen going on at Concorde for a while.

    These Presidents seem to be back for another term and no Goddam 22nd amendment is going to be holding them back (ha! cliche-tastic!)



    Candy / We Are Not Going To Make It
  • The evilest Anton?

    27. Mär. 2008, 1:44

    Anyone else watch the Coen brothers latest and get the same spark of recognition I did?

    Anton 'evil' Chigurh..............vs...........Anton 'evil' Newcombe
    Any relation? I think we should be told.

    The Brian Jonestown Massacre
    Anton Newcombe
  • Goddamnit!

    21. Sep. 2007, 20:35

    Wed 19 Sep – Ginger & The Scorchers, CJ & The Satellites, The God Damn Whores

    Ginger with the Scorchers, hey. Who'd have though it? Well since the utter f*cking-excellentness of that alliance is not in question I thought I would concentrate my efforts at the bottom of tonights bill, with The God Damn Whores

    Now I bloody love this lot, after they caught me by surprise supporting Ginger in January (with Ginger on bass, no less) I got hold of the album and fell in love with it. I've listened to a lot of stuff for the first time over the last few months and We Are The Lucky Thirteen really has been a stand out album for me. I just love that BITE, the roughness round the edges and just the spontanousness and unpredictability that comes over in this somehow-consistent mishmash of thrashy punk, glammy new-wave and stripped-to-the-bones rock'n'roll.

    Live, they did not disappoint, with a new bass player they can call their own and Jon Poole's quirky and engaging stage presence (somewhere between Bill Carter of The Screaming Blue Messiahs and Homer Simpson..:), trademark red-diamond makeup all smeared about with sweat - just like last time.

    Somehow they didn't quite come across as quite the same wall of noise I remember from Brighton's Engine Room in January, but they were great nontheless. So when can we expect to see the Whores on a tour of their own?

    To be honest, an urge to see the God Damn Whores again was my main reason for taking the trip tonight, but bloody hell, did Ginger fill Jason Ringenberg's big cowboy boots or what? What a show! Absolutely awesome. And to think I almost didn't come.. on the grounds of complete physical and mental exhaustion

    Shhh.. don't tell Ringenberg
  • Trail of Dead at Concorde 2 Brighton

    25. Aug. 2007, 0:00

    Wed 22 Aug – ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

    If you drew a big musical map, somewhere in between the likes of Nirvana, Sonic Youth, The Beatles and Explosions in the Sky you'll find a genre-dodging band with the big mouthful of a moniker ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

    This band are awesome on record but somehow didn't quite cut it live when saw them back in February (to steal another reviewer's line - "...and you will know us by the polite applause"). Being a generous soul with benefit of the doubt, I set off to catch them when they were back in town tonight - and I was mighty glad I did.

    This time the venom was really dripping, and the volume cranked up past 11. Songs schizophrenically snapped out of floating ethereal guitar/piano into grimacing, gut-wrenching walls of noise, salivating emotion like a rabid dog. Whatever might have been lacking before was here in abundance.

    This time they lived up to their hell-raiser reputation. At first glance Trail of Dead might not look like the meanest bunch of motherfuckers, but you'd not want to bump into them down a dark alley I can tell you. Some memorable moments were Jason Reece teetering on the edge of the stage with a mike, picking up a spotlight that happened to be in the way and smashing it on the floor. Then later, unimpressed with the sound man going AWOL ("Hey, maybe we we should take the fucking night off too" - see below for clip), Conrad Keely hurling a bottle of water into the sound box drenching the mixing desk. Followed by an entertaining mid-song exchange of obscene gestures between towel-brandishing venue staff and the band. And Reece trying to make amends by pouring beer all over his drum kit.

    Not big and clever of course, but all good fun.

    Keely vs. Mixing Desk... (Clips of the music were all distorted to crap! Sorry)
  • Battles in Brighton

    23. Aug. 2007, 21:42

    Battles, Maths Class - Concorde 2 Brighton 21Aug2007

    Now for something completely different... Battles: now what pigeonhole do they fit in to? refreshingly none. In fact they are so far out there that you could be forgiven for wondering if they're taking the piss. The records I'd heard before have ranged from near genius to near unlistenable, but they certainly piqued my interest and I was not going to miss out on seeing them play a local venue.

    Live, Battles suddenly make sense for me. Watching the creation of layers of sound from voice, guitar, synth and a spaghetti of stomp boxes and patch cables reminded me of watching Holy Fuck at work, except that where Holy Fuck build up hypnotic, head-nodding grooves, Battles jar and disorientate, waving a contemptuous shitty stick at such conventions as musical key, time signature and song structure. And they throw in some disturbingly strange noises to boot.

    At best it's genius like nothing you have heard before. At other times it has you longing for a resolution into some kind of groove your struggling brain can make sense of, but it is always captivating. The musicianship is astonishing - the band's tightness following together what sometimes seems to be the musical equivalent of a random stream of consciousness is really quite breathtaking to watch.

    Towards the end of the set when the band asked the audience which of two songs they wanted them to end with, someone shouted out 'why don't you play both of them' to which someone else piped up 'at the same time'. The thing is they probably could have done it too, and maybe nobody would have noticed

  • The Go! Team at Brighton Loop Festival

    22. Aug. 2007, 13:07

    The Brighton Loop Festival (...a "celebration of digital culture") took place in Brighton's Victoria gardens, essentially a big roundabout on the main road into Brighton, on a drizzly grey Saturday afternoon (i.e. what passes for "summer" in these parts)

    Since it was a crappy old day and my main motivation was to catch headliners, the Go! Team, on home turf I spent most of the afternoon hiding from the drizzle in a pub. But I was kicking myself later when I caught a taste of what I'd been missing (especially Foals who were winding up their set when I arrived). Ho hum.

    I remember once seeing a comment someone put against a YouTube clip of the Go! Team live saying they sounded like something a bunch of school kids might put together. But hey, isn't that part of the appeal? That freshness, bouncy innocence and sense of fun. The contagious rhythms, hooky tunes and pleasantly rough edges. Could have done with being a bit louder though, with Ninja's vocals sometimes getting a bit lost in the mix (Volume restricted due to council orders apparently)

    There was nice mix of old and new tunes, and the stuff from the new album is sounding awesome - any fears that they would not be able to follow the luscious debut swept neatly aside. The single, Grip Like A Vice, what a tune - it's been going round and round my head the last few days.

    However, going round my head at the time was the following mantra; "I do not need a piss, I do not need a piss". Put a couple of thousand beered up people in a big closed tent, with more beer, and what are they going to need sooner or later? Toilets, yes. But if you wanted to leave for the bog or the bar you basically left for good. You'd find yourself at the end of a queue to get back in again: a big one-out-one-in kind of queue that wasn't going to go anywhere. That wasn't so good, and meant that once my resolve cracked, I ended up watching the encore through a little door in the side of the tent (*see below). Ho hum.

    Grip Like A Vice...
  • BRMC, Black Angels at Somerset House

    20. Jul. 2007, 10:43

    BRMC & Black Angels, Somerset House, London 18 July 2007

    First off, what a venue! the outdoor stage was set up in the spacious courtyard of somerset house, an 18th century palace in the centre of london which has seen various uses over time from royal residence to tax office (the old signs for "tax office" and "stamp office" still visible).

    To the massive credit of the organisers the size of the crowd was kept very comfortable despite a sell-out night (most places I've been to would have got about three times as many people into that space) and there was plenty of room to wander back and forth between the stage, the supremely organised and reasonably-priced bar and the massive, labrynthine toilets (as my mate commented, the entire audience could probably have been taking a dump at the same time and there'd still be cubicles to spare). Also, what a beautiful evening for it, almost unique in the last couple of weeks of UK "summer" weather. So things stacked up rather nicely for a top evening!

    First up on stage were some recent faves of mine, The Black Angels from Austin. Now, you might think an unrelenting monotone drone might be a bad thing, but oh no, in the right hands it can be crafted into a thing of beauty. Listen for example to Black Grease, now that is the same G chord for over four minutes. Yet it's a roller-coaster ride of pounding hypnotic claustrophobic blackness, of adrenalin and pure emotion (and anyone who says its just 'a bit boring' doesn't get it!)

    Alex Maas' vocals are reminiscent in no small way to Jim Morrison, one reason to explain how this band's music can sweep you back about 35 years and believe they really can sing about 'The First Vietnam War' with authority.

    Now sometimes its nice to be sonically transported to the Apocalyse Now film set in your head, but sometimes you wanna ROCK and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club deliver. And they don't sound that much like the Jesus and Mary Chain.

    BRMC's set must have lasted about 2 hours, showing off the diversity of their back catalogue (or at least throwing in a few solo acoustic numbers amongst the stonking bluesy garage rock we love 'em for). They're a band I've been trying to catch live for a while - and the wait was well worth it, twas a faultlessly awesome show. Sounding even better than on record, some tracks (666 Conducer being one) that had kind of passed me by on the first few listens of Baby 81 were transformed live. I can't see how anyone could not dig this band.

    Well what more can I say? I think I've just had the perfect gig experience.

  • The Brian Jonestown Massacre at Islington Academy

    15. Jul. 2007, 22:05

    The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Islington Academy London, 14 July 2007

    ok so its not big and clever to turn up on stage fucked out of your head, but it can make for an interesting evening... and of course nothing less would be expected of anton newcombe, main man of The Brian Jonestown Massacre

    since the academy had some disco night on after the band, they hit the stage obscenely early (must have been about 8'oclock) while i was still getting warmed up in the pub across the road, so i missed the first song or two... but with bjm there are always plenty more where they came from.

    in typical bjm fashion, chaos reigned on the stage, with king anton verbally and physically laying into other band members and ranting at the audience. however when they do actually settle down to play the music, what beautiful music it is: pure yet rich, rough yet smooth, emotional, hypnotic and despite obvious influences quite unique.

    as the two hour set passed by, the music to chaos ratio fell (contributory factors including between-song swigs of vodka and whatever other substances were consumed during a ten minute interlude) and by the end things were getting pretty out of control and sound-wise were suffering badly

    don't get me wrong, i wouldn't have missed this, and i'll still be looking out for the next chance to get a hit of bjm, but i was left wanting more of the music, man. no its not the same to stick it on the stereo back home. and yeah, i know their notoriety is what will have packed the place out tonight, but it would be sad to see such a musically gifted band turn into some fucked-up circus act.

    well... ok, it ain't big and it ain't clever, but i'd be lying if i said it wasn't any fun to watch :o)

    Video clip of a worse-for-wear performance of Vacuum Boots, complete with rant and false start...