Call me Russ L

Rabbit & Dogs

Posted in Music by Russ L on 19 February, 2006

So, Friday night. This was an interesting little bill at The Hare And Hounds in Kings Heath, courtesy of the Confetti Throwing And Pretend Fucking Gunfights collective, who have a few more gigs coming up locally over the next couple of months so be sure to have a look at that link. A gig at The Hare And Hounds means tins of Carlsberg Export for a mere pound each from the upstairs bar, which means getting a bit more plonkered than you initially intended to. The things we have to put up with, eh?

The Fall, The Rise were already on when I arrived, and were very different to how I remember them being last time I saw them. Whether that’s a result of their new stuff being different or me just being a div I don’t know, but their songs this time seemed to be big sprawling things, going through various different parts before finally coming to their conclusion. The Husker Du vibe I’d previously got from them couldn’t have been further away, and instead I was left thinking of the Deftones in places. I still can’t get on with the vocals, though. At all. Whatsoever. It really is a shame because I think I would quite like them otherwise.

The Arm were on second, and a band I’d been meaning to see for quite a while after having heard a fair few good things about them. On the night they were struggling with various problems (not being able to hear anything onstage, some sort of falling-apart-type-behaviour from the drumkit) but still really impressed. It’s ludicrously fast and technical instrumental metal they play, a bit like Hella if they were interesting. Angular spiky bits abound, and they managed to attain a tremendous degree of sonic velocity even with things conspiring against them. I bet they’re downright scary when things go their way.

I’ve only seen local underground notoriety-merchants Esquilax once before, but I was aware that they perform a completely different set every time they perform. This time there was only one man on stage (I’ve no idea whether this was planned or they’re some sort of Wu-Tang Clan-ish operation where the line-up at any given gig is determined by who can be bothered to turn up), kneeling with his back to the audience and creating one long feedback scree. By ‘long’ I mean ‘the whole set.’ The pitch did modulate a bit and I initially expected something interesting to be said through the tonal variation, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. I get the feeling it was supposed to be an aural endurance test for the audience, but it didn’t really work – it could have been painful had it been louder, but at a perfectly reasonable volume for the size of the room it simply didn’t have that kind of effect. A few people walked out, but neither in a “This is agony, I must flee!” way or a “I am disgusted with this being presented as music and storming off” way – it was more “Bit boring, innit?” In noticing this, though, I realise where the fun was to be had – scanning the faces of the rest of the punters to see how they reacted was very interesting. I enjoyed the set, then, although that didn’t have a fat lot to do with any of the sounds coming from the speakers.

I’d somehow managed to get the prior impression that What Price, Wonderland? played spazz/adjectivecore, which turned out to be completely inaccurate. They were quite the nostalgia trip, actually – they reminded me of bands like Polaris and Bob Tilton, who knocked about when I was aroundabout sixteen. You’d hear them on home-made tape compilations that you could buy for about two quid and were usually a benefit for a hunt sabs group or a homeless shelter or whatever-have-you, made by some enthusiastic youth copying songs from various 7”s and albums onto a blank tape. Great days. They probably use CD-Rs now. If you’ll permit me to come back to the point, WPW sounded like your Bob Tilton-ish British emo bands of those days. I find that the boy-hoarse-‘cos-his-voice-is-breaking vocals used by most of these sorts of bands rarely come across as effective and indeed they didn’t here, but WPW were alright.

I was fairly pissed by the time That Fucking Tank from Leeds were on, having set up on the floor in front of the stage. I remember assuming that they were proving that they were men of the people in the way that underground bands so often feel that they have to do, but in retrospect they might well have been trying to get in front of the speakers to avoid similar problems to those suffered by The Arm. Whichever way up it meant that we could all stand in a ring around them, and that was quite good.

I’d heard a few songs by That Fucking Tank beforehand via the incredible wonders of the internets, and based on those I really was not expecting them to groove as much as they did. It was, of course, a welcome surprise. Theirs was an incredibly full sound for just two of them, with odd bits bringing to mind Lightning Bolt and The Fucking Champs (and yes, I’m wondering too how much I’ve been subconsciously influenced by the semantics) but sounding entirely like themselves. If I’d been even a teensy bit more drunk I’d probably have danced.

~ Russ L

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5 Responses

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  1. Russ L said, on 20 February, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    Well I’ll be mogadored – Polaris are still going! They’re not as I remember them, though.

  2. James said, on 22 February, 2006 at 10:27 am

    You sounded like you had a good time and it was a good thing. The Esquilax thing sounds like my idea of hell though!

  3. Russ L said, on 22 February, 2006 at 11:03 am

    I definitely did have a good time. I refer you back to the part where I mentioned “tins of Carlsberg Export for a mere pound each”…

  4. Baker said, on 22 February, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    Enjoyed that Russ, especially as I was ill all that week and missed everything. Really wanted to see the beam trio too.

    Nice to see you last night in attendance too.

    Keep on rocking in the free world!

  5. Russ L said, on 23 February, 2006 at 12:38 pm

    The pleasure was all mine, Daz.


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