Saturday, October 03, 2009

Zu / Beestung Lips / Das Bastard @ The Rainbow, Friday 2nd October 2009

Graagggghgnggngnagghhhhhhhh!!! Okey, maybe that’s not the typical way to begin a gig review but then again none of the bands on tonight’s bill were what you’d call ‘typical’ either. Nope. What it is though is an approximation of the noise emanating from the mouth of the lead singer of openers Das Bastard. Formed from several other projects (including an Untitled Musical one) tonight was the Bastards very first gig. You couldn’t tell. They’ve already really gelled as a ‘unit’ (as they call it in the biz) and make a glorious noise in the grand tradition of bands like The Jesus Lizard (or so someone far wiser and better versed in this particular genre told me), in other words LOUD…but surprisingly melodic in places. The lead bastard spent a large part of the show crawling over monitors and thrashing about like a beheaded anaconda on the floor. It was during one of these thrashes that I noticed he was wearing odd socks. Hmmm, perhaps it’s a comment on the mixed up nature of the world in which we all live (hence the angry, angst ridden soundtrack)…or then again perhaps he just got dressed in the dark. Whatever the reason Das Bastard are a darn fine addition to Birmingham’s musical scene and an absolute must see. The wearing of odd socks is, of course, compulsory.

Sandwiched between the Bastards and headliners Zu were Birmingham’s finest hardcore punksters Beestung Lips, making a triumphant return to the live stage. On top of being a damn fine bunch of musicians the Lips are blessed with a lead vocalist whose very soul seems to explode out of his pores as he performs. If you’ve seen Heroes (Season One I think) where that bloke explodes, taking the world with him, you’ll know just what I’m talking about. Variously going by the name of Biff, Hetero and now Ben, he never gives anything less than 100%. He has one of the most engaging microphone techniques I’ve ever seen. It’s as though he’s fighting with the thing, holding it at arms length, trying to protect himself from it with a well placed hand, using it like a cross to ward off the evils of the world. I could just be imagining things, but that’s how it seems to me. Trying to explain the sound (of any of tonight’s bands really) isn’t an easy thing to do. This is music to be experienced. But, if you want some idea, it sounds, well, damn pissed off. Imagine the most angry you’ve ever been about anything. Now multiply that feeling by 10. Now feed that through bloody great speakers and crank up the volume. There. That’s what Beestung Lips sound like. Bloody brilliant.

Last up – and legends in their genre…actually they’re probably the only group that exist in their genre (given that the play a kind of demented metal math jazz) – Zu. For a three piece they make one hell of a noise. Imagine a jazz combo crashing into a psychotic metal band on the M25 and you’ll get some idea of the sound. Deep, throbbing bass, tribalistic drumming and the kind of sax that would give Lisa Simpson an instant embolism all come together in surprisingly intricate freeform jazz patterns that, depending on your state of mind, either makes you want to blow off your own head or leap up and down like fruitcake. It’s music for the mad…your own personal soundtrack to your 119th nervous breakdown and yet…and yet…after a while it all seems to make some kind of strange sense.

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