Friday, November 19, 2010
Trash Talk / Cerebral Ballzy / Turnball AC’s / Kafka @ The HMV Institute, Thursday 18th November 2010
I’m a firm believer in going to see stuff you wouldn’t normally go and see, just to fizz things up a bit you know. So, whilst I’d draw the line at Coldplay, JLS or any one of a million here today, gone tomorrow made for TV acts, I’m not averse to submitting myself to the darker, heavier stuff every once in a while. Hence tonight.
Disclaimer: whilst I’m an acknowledged expert on synth pop 1980 – 1983 and the work of Bernard Cribbins I know very little about ‘hardcore’, ‘sludgecore’, ‘mathcore’ or anything else with ‘core’ in the title, which pretty much excuses any of the random generalisations and ill informed comments that I may well make here. Ha!
First up Kafka, a gentle folk act with some lovely little songs about birds, bees and puppy dog’s knees...hang on...oh my Christ...what the fuck...aggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh. Kafka are one of those bands that sound like they’re fronted by Satan. Given that the set began with the stage being enveloped in thick smoke, illuminating by red lights, they may well be. I half expected to smell sulphur in the air and hear a few screaming souls and, to be fair, their lead did accurately convey what it must feel like to have a hot poker shoved up your bumbum for all eternity. How the hell these people make that noise for so long without ripping their throat to shreds and vomiting up a lung I’ll never know...but it’s impressive. Musically Kafka had it nailed too, especially one or two sections that sounded...in no particular order...like fireworks going off in a metal bin and anti tank missiles exploding against the Houses of Parliament, surprisingly melodic in a liquidising your brain kind of way. In their own words this band’s “Here to fuck you in every way, and bury your face in riffs and screaming”. Hmmm...mission accomplished there then.
Next up Turnball AC’s...a band SO loud and SO scary that they don’t even appear to have a website. In fact just listening to them for more than a few minutes can cause infertility, haemorrhaging and...eventually...death. I jest. Compared with Kafka they weren’t as bombastic and there was less of that throat raping going on but they still managed to make a gloriously destructive noise.
By comparison to Kafka Cerebral Ballzy were positively pop. Their lead screamer kicked off the set with the immortal words “This is a song about pizza”. It may well have been. It might equally have been a song about Wayne Rooney’s underpants, the state of the Irish economy or how to grow the perfect sprout. That’s not the point really is it? It’s all about the energy and the Ballzy were the first band tonight to try to get the party started, with Mr Screamer climbing the speaker stacks, getting his kit off (well, his shirt at least) and whacking his bollocks with his mic. That’s my idea of a party too.
Happily on top of a song about pizza they did one about drinking, one about drugs and one about not having enough bus fare to get home. I hear you on that one bro. £1.70 for a single? Rise up and revolt my fellow travellers. Free buses for all and an immediate ban on anyone with a pram that’s wider than the freakin’ bus. The set finished off with, again in Mr Screamer’s words “A song about pizza, drinking, drugs and all that stuff”. Huh, he didn’t mention the bus fares again though did he eh? Obviously a tool of the evil empire of Travel West Midlands.
Last up, Sacramento’s very own devil’s spawn, Trash Talk, and by now I was slightly unsure of which way was up, what my name was or if the outside world even existed (or had it all just been a dream?). After being pummelled by noise for an hour or two I was actually in the mood for a bit more physicality. The few ‘hardcore’ gigs I have been to were ‘made’ by the thrashing about in the audience, getting sweaty with your fellow man and being kicked in the head by a smelly pair of converse. Happily, whilst the first three bands had stayed stage side, Trash Talk are clearly made of sterner stuff and, encouraged by some particularly vigorous windmilling by one or two chaps their lead singer had soon joined us on the floor...literally at some points...rolling around in a sweaty mess surrounded by a dozen or so wide eyed hardcore pilgrims who seemed to know every word he was screaming. I stayed glued to the wall for a couple of songs but that’s a bit like watching someone eat a hamburger when you’re really hungry isn’t it? So I got stuck in as best I could at my age, leaping about, getting smacked in the head, arm, leg, chest, knee...hang on let me check the bruises...oh yes...ankle, ass and foot too. It’s all pretty good natured though.
No one got out of hand, there was a little mild stage diving and I did find an eyeball rolling around on the floor but you can’t make a hardcore cake without breaking a few eggs eh? The beauty of bands like Trash Talk is that there’s no bullshit, no long wanky solos or unnecessary froth. It’s hard, it’s heavy and it’s fast. I was too busy avoiding flying limbs to time some of the tracks but I reckon you could listen to an entire Trash Talk album whilst boiling an egg...twice in fact. In amongst the melee I did manage to decipher one or two numbers, the highlight of which was an incendiary version of ‘Explode’, which started off as heads down, 180mph bile splattered anthem then slowed menacingly before putting the foot firmly back on the gas (and, thanks to one of the stage divers, in my left ear too).
So what if most of the lyrics were unintelligible, the vocals came from the bowels of the earth and several people spontaneously imploded just in front of the stage? Gigs like this are all about the energy, the raw explosions of rage and power...and...er...an overwhelming desire to embrace sweaty men and get punched in the head...a lot. Fantrashtic.
Pictures courtesy of the lovely Andy Watson aka Drw Images ...who somehow managed to avoid getting his camera smashed.