Blast into the future

Last weekend saw three days of loud. Three days of bands playing loud. I like bands playing loud so, obviously, I was there.

My travelling companions on this trip were Ellen, Rob and Simon, who had descended on The Smoke for the occasion, and also Jeremy on the Saturday. Over the course of the weekend I saw a whole range of bands but it was impossible to see everyone so I’m just going to focus on a few of my favourites who, for me, really stood out (n.b. other favourites are available but these were mine).

I started the weekend wishing that I’d arrived just a little earlier, as I only caught the last song from Flowers must Die and it sounded great; funky and bouncy is a good way to get things started. They were swiftly followed by Julie’s Haircut who played a cracking set with a little bit of jazzy sax and a lot of krauty-rock.

I spent all day Saturday at an archaeology conference (which was very very good BTW. See #lamas18 for some tweetage) and then sprinted over to The Garage straight afterwards to wreck my hearing. Unfortunately I’d missed Temple Ov BBV and Mamuthones and, just to make it worse, my friends were all raving about them. 😦

Gnoomes, from Russia, reminded me of 1990. They’re that shoegazey moment before it went all fey and a bit too shimmery-dreampop. There was something about them that reminded me of The Pale Saints, although they don’t actually sound like The Pale Saints. They’re definitely the pop end of the weekend and I liked them. I liked them enough to go and see them again a couple of days later.

I’ve seen Housewives once before … maybe I should qualify that statement as they played in pitch blackness so I couldn’t actually see them, but I heard them all right. From that first hearing my general impression of them was that they were a band that plays on the intensity of the experience. Mainly confusion. This time they played in the light, all dressed in white with bold colourblock back projections.

Tricky time signatures were a strong feature of the set, so not the most obviously poppy sing-a-long but nevertheless pretty dancey but also intriguing. The thing I think I found the most disconcerting on this viewing, was that the bass player looked, and danced, like he was in Haircut 100.

I like Hey Colossus but they’re a band that I don’t seem to see very often. I like how heavy but funky they are and they do have some cracking tunes. Seriously, ‘March of the Headaches’ is such fun 😀 . They didn’t play it on this outing but they did play a seriously good set. Very intense, heavy and relentless but they’re also a band that you can really dance to. I really like ‘Back in the Room’ which is on the newest album Guillotine – “3,2,1 you’re back in the rooooom”. More of this please.

Unfortunately Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs had had to cancel due to a family medical emergency. We all hope everything is OK and look forward to seeing them again in the future (they’re playing at Raw Power. Go to that!).

A lovely chilled out Sunday afternoon? Don’t be silly.

I made sure that I got down to The Garage fairly early to catch the great bands playing in the afternoon, starting with Bonnacons of Doom. Honestly, the afternoon couldn’t have had a better start.

A bit of theatre with shadowy figures dressed in robes and reflective disk masks, some great music and a fantastic front-woman (Kate?), throwing all manner of shapes and blending her vocals in with the other instruments, mostly sounds rather than words. And a gong!

I’d really been wanting to see Kuro, as I’ve managed to miss them a couple of times, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. In fact I’d say that they were way more than I’d expected. I’m not exactly sure what I’d expected but this was more. This is classical music for doomheads. Kuro team a deep electric bass (Gareth) with violin tracery, screams, squalls and snippets of melody (Agathe), building a big, dense soundscape / soundtrack which draws us all into its reality. It sounds like either the creation or the destruction of worlds. Take your pick.

We’re also treated to the spectacle of Gareth on hurdy-gurdy! It’s not often you see someone whip out a hurdy-gurdy at a gig. I mean, it does happen (c.f. France) but not that often so it brings a touch of “ooh, look at that” to the proceedings. Great stuff.

Anthroprophh feature Paul Allen out of The Heads (seriously, why the hell weren’t The Heads playing!!!?), Gareth out of Kuro back again, and wonder-drummer Jesse Webb.

Paul Allen’s rock guitar wig-outs and wailing vocals are held firmly in place by the absolutely monstrous rhythm section. This is probably the best rhythm section this side of anywhere. The last time I saw Anthroprophh, Paul ended up with his trousers half way down his legs. I don’t know how that happened but I was interested in seeing if this was a regular occurrence, or just a one-off special. Turns out it was a one-off special. Clothes stayed firmly on, which meant no undue distractions from the absolute onslaught of choons 😀.

Closing out the weekend was Gnod. Rob’s new favourite T-shirt band.

Gnod don’t do things by half, they do things by double.  Twin basses bring an extra helping of heavy to go with the loud.

They’re great for fans of repetition (me) that builds and builds to a veritable avalanche (also me). I felt compelled to go and find my own little space so that I could just dance on my own. Just me and a bloody big racket. The final song of the set, a ~20 minute long juggernaut left everyone a little dazed but happy :D.

A word about the weekend’s visuals. That word is stonking. Designed by John O’Carroll from Rocket and Sam Wiehl of Liverpool Psych Fest fame, each band’s sound and scene was expressed by their own background visuals and lighting and that really added to the overall feeling of this being a special event. Not run-of-the-mill.

This blog is generally quite lightweight and easy going so I don’t want to suddenly get all ‘gender politics heavy’ on you but I will say that it was nice to see such strong representation from the female contingent of the ‘Loud’n’Heavy’ community. These types of events can, and in the past certainly did, end up being total sausage fests but Rocket Recordings is definitely not pushing the women aside. I’m not talking about absolute gender parity here, we go where the music takes us, but I can’t help noting how good it is so see a few more ‘girls to the front’. Nice one Rocket.

And I can’t finish this post without mentioning the merch stall. Merch stall? Merch room actually. With an ever-changing selection of goodies, this proved fatal to any sense of fiscal restraint. I’m happy with my purchases but I’m not buying anything else this month!*

Thanks to everyone at Rocket Recordings, all the bands and everyone else who chipped in a little or a lot to make this an amazing weekend. We all limped home a little bit broken but happy.

.

*Except that Rocket has just sent out an email notification of a new release by Gnod. Damn you Rocket *shakes fist*.

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