Saturday, October 02, 2010

O. Children / At The Zoo @ The Flapper, Friday October 1st

I was particularly looking forward to tonight’s gig. And not just because I was intrigued to see how Tobi, O.Children’s vertically unchallenged lead singer, would get on with the low ceilinged Flapper basement. Nope. I was looking forward to a bit of misery (I do love a bit of misery) courtesy of the band’s particularly fine brand of doomy indie goth.

First up though (and distinctly un-goth) it’s local crew, At The Zoo. Indie rockers, at different times in the set they reminded me of The Libertines, The Futureheads, The Kooks and The Jam. Kicking off with Turn Your TV Off (Put Your Records On) they inspired some lively bouncing up and down from a handful of the crowd and a number of the tunes were catchy enough to stick in my head from the last time I saw them. Pick of the set tonight was the bopsheboptastic ‘Love For Granted’. Which reminded me even more of a ‘Libertines meets the Grease soundtrack’ than the last time I heard it. Go and listen and you’ll see what I mean.

As the clock struck midnight...actually it was more like 10pm but that don’t sound as good...and a thick mist enveloped the stage O.Children appeared out of the dark. Young ladies fainted. Kids screamed. Blood dripped from eyeballs and bats flapped lazily over the bar (I’m just making shit up now). Okay. I think you get the message. O.Children have well and truly raised goth from the dead and I, for one, couldn’t be more chuffed. Goth’s the perfect soundtrack for our times right now. Miserable. Introspective. Dank. It’s not dull though. Think Joy Division holding a wrist slitting party with Depeche Mode and Bauhaus and you’ll have some idea of the sound. At the heart of the whole thing is the towering form of Tobi O’Kandi. Just before the set began the soundguy was setting up the mics and, to get the right height, he cranked them up to their limit so that the mic itself was touching the top of his scalp. And he was no midget. Yep, Tobi is what you’d call a big fella. Coming onstage wearing a sort of shroud over his head and stooping to avoid slicing the top of his scalp off on the Flapper’s ceiling, one word from him quickly revealed that the voice is more than a match for the height. It’s a deep, booming, ominous thing (not unlike Lurch from the Addams Family), capable (I imagine) of making ‘The Sun Has Got His Hat On’ sound like a funereal lament.

The gig kicked off with new single Ruins, all chainsaw guitars, crashing drums and Tobi booming on about “Killing time” and “Cutting and screaming”. It’s a truly classic goth anthem, right up there with the very best of Bauhaus, The Bad Seeds and (WARNING! Obscure goth band reference coming up) Rosetta Stone (see, told ya). The tone being set Tobi and his band of not so merry men played track after track of gloriously bleak music, dragging us all deeper and deeper into our own personal pits of despair. ‘Dead Disco Dancer’, with its slightly chirpy New Order chords is as close as we get to relief, but it only lasted as long as the intro, before Tobi staring booming at us again about death and graves. It’s this all enveloping atmosphere that the band manages to create that’s at the heart of their live appeal though. Visually and musically you’re trapped in a world of their making and they ain’t letting you out until sunrise. Trust me. O.Children should be seen...and heard.

PS: Spotted lurking at the back of the room was Gavin & Stacey’s very own Mat Horne. He even bought an O.Children CD. See...who needs Heat Magazine eh? Coming soon...I talk to Nikki from Big Brother about the songs of Neil Young 1968-1972.

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