Call me Russ L

Denise – the hats!

Posted in Music by Russ L on 10 November, 2008

Lord o’mercy, it doesn’t half feel strange to be blogging about something that happened recently.

The 1st of November (the Saturday before the one just gone) saw the ‘Release The Bats’ gig (put together by Authority To Pay but brought to Birmingham by the largesse of Capsule), at Space 2 in The Custard Factory. It was a funny one, this; I sort of enjoyed it and sort of didn’t.

It has already been noted that the bar in Space 2 is not sufficient for the number of people in the place when it’s sold out, even if (as at this gig) you open an additional bottle bar outside. What’s more annoying than that, though, is when someone who clearly hasn’t been at the bar for as long as you have starts waving his arms about like a epileptic cretin in an attempt to get served first, and then has the nerve to moan to you (well, me) about the (very hard working) bar staff. I was the closest I have been to losing my temper in a very long time.

Music? Right, yes, music. I was keen to see Lightning Bolt, having only recently become particularly aware of them (they always used to just be one of those names mentioned a lot by people whose opinions you don’t listen to). Unfortunately, ‘seeing’ them didn’t really happen: I got through the huuuge queue outside (with loads & loads of people still behind me) to find them already on, but with their ‘setting up on the venue floor and having the crowd stand around them’ schtick meaning that they were already completely obscured from view. Not being able to see the band is something that happens in these big venues sometimes and something you just have to put up with, but it feels particularly strange when it comes to a turn who’s set-up seems to want you to look at them but paradoxically makes it harder. They sounded fantastic, anyway; a storming groove arises from what always sounds a little bit like chaos, however stupidly technical the playing (particularly the drumming) might be. I enjoyed their set, in spite of the sightline problems.

The three bands in the middle were all acts with whom I wasn’t really familiar in spite of all having plenty of adherents, but none of them really worked for me. Pissed Jeans played a Jesus Lizard-with-lots-of-Sabbathy-riffs type of thing. The music wasn’t so bad but the singer seemed like he was meant to be the centre of things and wasn’t really convincing with the “I am so intense and angsty’ bit he was having a stab at. Some people can sell it, some people can’t. Wooden Shjips did a proggy/Krautrock extended-grooves-rather-than-songs thing; I nodded my head at times but for the most part it was far too samey. Om just sounded like a basic middling-to-boring stoner rock band on the night.

Shellac are just… primal. I had to leave before they finished (didn’t hear “Prayer To God”, damnit), as ever, but they really have a certain power about them that not too many bands can conjure up. They’re sort of post-punk but mostly just rock, albeit in a relatively minimal and repetitive but unquestionably effective way. Outwardly just riffs and pounding drums and bad singing, but somewhere and on some level something that somewhat gives them more effect than the next band.

And that’ll do nicely for me, really. Dunno about you.

(Further reading here, here, here, and here).


2 Responses

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  1. Ben said, on 24 November, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Would’ve loved to have been at that gig, dammit. Saw Shellac at ATP in 2000, but it’s only since then that I’ve really got into them. The latest album is rather good…

    PS Got your Shuffleathon CD, cheers! Will let you know once I’ve given it a spin and got some thoughts up online.

  2. Russ L said, on 24 November, 2008 at 9:00 am

    I’m actually very excited to see what you have to say…


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