Screamin' Al from The Computers...er...screamin'
Sunday 24th July
Dananananaykroyd / The Computers / Tall Ships / Flash Guns / Venice Ahoy / Talons / Victories At Sea / Peace / Pharoahs / Death Ohh Eff
Oh my days. I think I’ve broken myself. It’s my own fault. Actually, scratch that. I blame the pairing of The Computers and Dananananannanananannananananaykroyd. That’s just a recipe for bruised limbs, banging heads and a complete footprint shaped mark on the back of your head isn't it eh? Anyway, before a possible trip to A&E (I’m joking...I need ICU) here’s how the day’s dizzying parade of bands (11 in 10 hours) went down.
It all kicked off with Death Oh Eff’s particular brand of shouty electro math-pop. There was a lot of shoutiness going on today. This is a very good thing. It’s always hard being the opening act, especially when you’re playing in a cellar at 2.30pm on a warm summer’s day but DOE pulled in a decent crowd who were rewarded for being up, conscious and there with a lively run through some of the bands best stuff, including the suitably tropical Mother. Pharaohs kept the energy levels high with some enthusiastic leaping about and a song about Gary Glitter, best demonstrating their knack for rocking out one second then scrambling your brain with some complex guitar noodling the next.
Peace were one of those rather brilliant festival surprises, like Vampire Weekend fronted by the lovechild of Robert Smith and Yannis from Foals. Clearly strong believers in the old adage “always leave ‘em wanting more” they only played for about 15 minutes but it’s the quality that counts (actually I believe that’s all the material they’ve got right now). Cop a listen to Blood and see what you think.
Victories At Sea played their first gig at Off The Cuff 2010 and now here they are a year later showcasing the development of their...muso wank alert...shimmering soundscapes...sorry....I’ll never write that again...and ever so slightly ominous vocals. “We’ve only played about 5 gigs since our first one, ‘cos no one likes us except Sammy and Rhi” (two of the lovely ladies behind OTC). I’m sure that ain’t true. As one gorgeous layer of sound built over another it’s hard to imagine anyone with ears being immune to them. I wrote in my notes ‘like Joy Division on speed’ (yes, incredibly I write notes for this shit) and there’s something about the slightly Hook-y bass lines and faintly doom laden sound that kind of backs this scribbling up. After ‘shimmering soundscapes’ Venice Ahoy blasted the assembled masses with some loud thrashy pop punk. I believe it was their last ever gig. Shame. Tall Ships married Mr Twisty Math-Rock to Miss Heartfelt Vocals, resulting in the birth of some rather epic tunes. They had a lush song about evolution (it may have even been called that) with a snatch of keyboards that sounded a little like Walter/Wendy Carlos at his/her finest. Clever, but surprisingly moving at the same time, stuff.
Still with me? Good. ‘Cos it starts to get messy in a bit. Imagine if Lemmy kidnapped a couple of violinists from the London Philharmonic, then locked them in a room with some mind bending drugs, I imagine the result would sound a little bit like Talons. DEATH ROCK VIOLINS I scribbled in my note pad, using the blood seeping from my bleeding ears as ink. Somewhere Antonio Stradivari is thrashing about in his grave grinning like a man possessed. Awesomely good. Next up Flash Guns, with a bit of a Strokes-y U2-y feel they got heads nodding (at least the heads that still remained in place after Talons had finished). They’ve already released a clutch of catchy singles including the pick of tonight’s set Passions of a Different Kind. Stadium glory surely beckons?
Right another band that may have been playing its last ever gig tonight. This time sadly it’s Youves, a band I’ve known since their days as Mirror Mirror. The Fall meets PiL meets Happy Mondays meets Late of The Pier...plus ingredient x. How the hell did they never ‘make it’ eh? Tonight might have been their swansong but they got the swan off its beak on E and dancing like a maniac. Ruthlessly plundering their Cardio-Vascular album they beat the living daylights out of Fully Erect and ‘the hit’, Aladdins Rave, before bizarrely debuting a new track. Cool. That’s the way to bow out. Predictably they got their tops off one last time sending flecks of manly sweat all over the mourners.
“More people are sad about us splitting up than Amy Winehouse” observed their lead singer. Well, at least they can always make a comeback....Amy might find that one a bit trickier.
Right. This is when it got messy. Devon’s finest punk rock combo The Computers simply won’t take no for an answer. When they want a crowd to go mental the crowd has little choice. I’m sure there’s some kind of subliminal Derren Brown kind of hypnosis at work here but from the second they launched into Group Identity a sizeable percentage of the audience began pogoing into the ceiling and thrashing about like someone going through an exorcism. The gig was a glorious blur of flailing limbs and pints of sweat culminating in the near death experience that is Teenage Tourette’s Camp. The spirit of their musical mentor Rocket From The Crypt’s Speedo is all over this one and, having seen them back in the day, The Computers are every bit as awesome. Now that’s one hell of an accolade. Top marks for the Jewish related banter by the way. After the band’s lead singer had jokingly castigated us for dancing to punk on the Sabbath he revealed he was Jewish and it was okay for him ‘cos Friday was his holy day. “Where’s your foreskin?” yelled one of the crowd “In Valhalla” he replied laughing maniacally before ripping into another tune. Hmmm...try as I might I still can’t get the image of a strange world inhabited by snippets of men’s privates out of my mind.
I was a broken man by this point but Off The Cuff wasn’t done with me yet. Having sworn never to attempt bouncing up and down in a low ceiling cellar ever again I was at it 15 minutes later thanks to the infectious Glasgow pop punksters Dananananananananananananaykroyd. Damn them. Like The Computers they won’t take no for an answer either and pretty soon the whole room was bouncing up and down risking severe brain damage in the process. Brilliant.
There’s something glorious about the Glaswegian accent screaming at you. It’s vaguely threatening but bloody chummy at the same time, that’s why a lot of banks have all their call centres up in Scotland. True story. Anyway, the band rattled merrily through one thrashy anthem after another with recent single Muscle Memory getting the biggest reaction of all. They’re a friendly bunch. Not even some mildly racist “Och eye the noo” could phase ‘em and they even arranged a ‘tunnel of love’ where the room split into two and was then encouraged to rush headlong into an embrace with stranger opposite them. The result was carnage but it had a cool soundtrack so that’s alright then. “Some guy’s had his balls stood on” yelled someone in the crowd “That’s okay” replied one of the band helpfully “a nice risk free ride for the ladies”. Safe sex the Danananananananananakroyd way. Stamp on some guy’s bollocks.
So, there we have it. 11 bands in 10 hours. From full on sonic assaults to glitchy synths and death rock violins Off The Cuff has firmly established itself as a dizzying introduction to the kind of music that puts an insane smile on your face and...if you overdo the pogoing...possibly a brace on your neck too. Get your tickets to 2012’s event as soon as you can. I get the feeling the Californians will be coming next year too...and they might well be bringing some of their mates.
PS:I missed Saturday's OTC ‘cos I was off seeing my chums Goodnight Lenin play outside at the MAC. I have no doubt that it was, of course, awesome. I’ll post a link to a review of Saturday when I find one.