The Soup Kitchen, Manchester
I took a punt on this gig – as according to Piccadilly Records I can expect “Clanging dissonance, slamming lo-fi drums and otherworldly sonic squeals.. with jazzy flourishes and a plethora of aural curveballs” – for £6? I’m in.
When I arrive at the venue, support band Sly the Family Drone are already in full swing- and have set up their instruments on the floor of the venue rather than use the stage – a Drummer, a Sax player and two people with FX pedals creating sonic mayhem with their voices and other sources. It’s insistent, rhythmic and noisy but not in a po-faced way and you’re invited to join in. Their shirtless leader encourages the audience to move closer and also join in on drums. It’s all messy, loud and fun – and with a name like that it’s no surprise they do a brisk trade in T Shirts.
Housewives set builds from silence – they’re gently scraping and picking away at their guitars and keyboards. Nobody seems to be playing a guitar in a conventional way (apart from the bass player) the instruments are heavily customised and played with bows, spikes, slides and whatever else. There’s a drummer with his head down waiting to be pressed into service and gradually the ambience builds and eventually he bursts into action to play some electronic drumpads. Doof!
This is one of those gigs where I’ve really no idea what’s going to happen – the band look a bit scary, the drummer has started screaming and pulling some very strange faces and it’s a bit unsettling. This is a good thing.
As they get into their stride I can start to piece together some influences. The most obvious comparison is This Heat but vocally it’s closer to early Cabaret Voltaire or Throbbing Gristle, there’s also elements of The Pop Group and 23 Skidoo. There’s also a touch of Prog in there – more on the VDGG / Crimson end. That’s not to say they’re a derivative act – they stew all this together into something quite unique.
It’s not an easy listen – however the way they perform makes them more accessible – they bounce and dance! The Sax player, when not blowing is basically leaping around and shadow boxing in time with the drummer and the whole band are moving – they bring the music alive and it helps you feel it and connect with what they’re doing. They make dissonance and complex rhythms a whole load of fun. Woh! Excellent stuff and very glad to see that in the age of Mumford and Sheeran blanding out into iSludge nothingness – there’s a new wave of properly weird, gnarly and wonderful music. Bring the Noise.
Happily there are young folk and they’re well into it. There’s me and a few older, Industrial types – I spy someone in a Test Department T-Shirt – that’s not something you see every day is it?
I carry earplugs these days – usually they’re not needed but they are tonight (and they’re being given away free at the bar which is usually a sign it’s probably I good idea to pop mine in). Sometimes it works against the music but tonight they work well – I can appreciate the subtle stuff going on in the music while I am still having my trousers flapped by the bass.
It made me think..
It’s still possible for a band to unsettle me…. in a good way