Ho ho ho. Whilst Christmas may mean carols, hymns, X Factor nonsense and Cliff singing about ickle baby Jesus to most of the population happily some people are still fighting the good fight, musically speaking at least. So a Santa’s sack full of respect to Distorted Tapes / Rhi Lee for putting together four bands that well and truly stuff most of the musical turkeys around at this time of year. Not Cliff obviously. Cliff is God. No...really...he actually is...a tramp outside Wetherspoons told me.
Anyway, first up Wrestling. Nope not Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks (showing me age here) Wrestling...the band! The music’s nicely melodic in places, making a neat contrast with the screamo vocals, and not even a raging sore throat could stop the band’s main vocalist from screaming up a lung tonight. Now that’s dedication to the cause my friends.
Next up Mount Fuji (formerly Conquistadors) weaved together some impressively complex guitar noodling and percussion to come up with a truly unique and rather awesome take on Cat Stevens’ Matthew and Son...Mathrock and Son anyone?
You lika da bass? Yeah, me too. Chances are your head will spin off with sheer joy at the sight and sound of Exit International then. Ditching guitars for a pair of basses and adding a machine gun drummer to the mix the Welsh trio blew a large bass shaped hole through the crowd’s vital organs tonight coming across like At The Drive In / QOTSA with 50,000 volts up their ass.
Yep, that good. It’s dirty, it’s heavy, it’s loud...the unholy trinity of proper rock...but with some naggingly catchy bits that you can imagine 100,000 kids screaming along to (just listen to the singalong la la la la la la la la la’s in Bowie’s Ghost for instance...it’s like Kaiser Chief’s for big boys ‘n’ girls). They won the lyric of the night award too with “Oh my god I’ve fucked everybody and now I’m left with you”. Hallmark Cards ought to snap that one up for Valentine’s Day.
Top that? Now there’s a challenge. One band’s up to it though, Exit’s tour buddies (lordy, imagine the debauchery) Castrovalva. There aren’t many unique bands around these days. It’s not really their fault, pretty much everything’s been done to death, but Castrovalva have a bloody good stab at putting a fresh twist on stuff, smashing together synths and samples with some viciously vocodered vocals, brutal bass (like Flea on methamphetamine) and the kind of dirty drumming that’s probably banned in 17 states in the US. Add Leemun, a dude who spits rhymes like a kid with ADHD and looks like Har Mar Superstar’s kickass cousin (Hard Mar Superstar?), and you’ve got something pretty freakin’ special. Tonight was bassist Tony’s birthday and he celebrated by playing his ass...and other bits...off “My balls are dripping down the side of my leg” he observed after one particularly frantic piece of guitar abuse. Sweet. Leemun meanwhile was leaping all over the place, in the crowd, on the crowd, up the crowd, scaling the staircase railings and bringing 15 flavours of mental to the show. Things ended in suitably chaotic style with Tony getting sprayed with several full cans of silly string...dude looked like he’d been jizzed on by a dozen horny clowns. Who needs laser beams and pyrotechnics eh? So what do you call this then? Hardcore grime rave? Thrash rock rap? Lord knows. Who cares? Castrovalava just might be one of the one exciting...and hell, let’s say it...FUN...bands in Britain right now.