One of my friends has been away touring with a band for a while, and they played last night at The Underworld in Camden as part of an all day music event called “OUCH MY GENERATOR!”. It was and *cough* I quote;
“An all day mash up of progressive and heavy live bands ready to blow the ampage! Playing underground genres such as Doom, Sludge, Prog-Metal, Noize and Math Rock…“
I had never heard of any of the bands, but it sounded like it should be fun, and since fun, beer and music are three of my favourite things, I decided it was only right and proper that I go. Add into the mix that I love it in Underworld, and I’d be getting to catch up with someone I hadn’t seen in a while, I was anticipating a really good day. I wasn’t disappointed.
The first two bands were on at 15:00 (Meadows) and 15:45 (Mine) but I missed them since I didn’t get into Camden until just around 16:00. It’s a shame, but given my tendency to DRINK ALL THE BEER, it boded better for my chances of remembering the end of the evening. I decided to have a pint upstairs at The World’s End, which was a mistake – I forgot how busy it gets in there, and a quick pint is definitely not a thing that happens on a Saturday afternoon.
I headed down into the depths and was immediately assailed by the smell of piss. It’s astounding to me exactly how reassuring I find that these days. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a formula that can very easily go wrong, but you really know where you are when the Eau de Toilette is in fact Odour of Toilet.
Speaking of toilets, this is the back of one of the doors in the Ladies. Winner.
There was an interesting mix of people in the audience. There was no consistency in terms of age, gender or visual metal tribe affiliation. I liked it.
The first band I actually saw were Telepathy and they blew me away. I was really impressed with them, to the point that I have just gone and pre-ordered their new album. They’re a 4 piece band who according to their Facebook page are from Rewa… and Colchester. Interesting cultural mix. I am too old to keep up with all the metal sub-genres, but they define themselves as Progressive/Post-metal/Sludge. For me, it was noisy, ethereal, expansive and had no vocals to fuck it all up. The bass was buzzing through my feet and made my shorts vibrate, and with a beer in my hand, I don’t think I could have been any happier.
The next band up were Bast. They’re a 3 piece metal band from London and for me, I felt they suffered by comparison to Telepathy. They were tight enough, and they did the whole vibratey-shorts things well enough, but they definitely weren’t covering any new ground. To be fair, I am not familiar enough with the genre to know if Telepathy were covering any new ground either… but they sounded like it. That being said, there was a big chunk of the audience singing along so Bast are clearly popular. I am never one to say that anyone else’s art is bad (the source of more than one blistering argument with my ex…) but they just didn’t touch me in any of my special places.
The drummer for Kruger simply warming up was more exciting to me than the entire previous band’s performance. There was immediately something sharper and fresher about them. Also – I don’t know about you – but I love a good nutter, and the frontman for Kruger was just that. He was either mental, or on something the like of which I haven’t been involved with in a good 20 years. You know that when your singer is doing warm-up stretches, you are in for a treat. I think I kinda fancy him…
There was a totally different energy about Kruger; it was way more punk and main-line crazy, as opposed to the heavier, more prog vibe from the previous two bands. They are apparently Swiss, and the singer (Renaud) fucking MEANT it. Combat rolls on and off the stage between the monitors, and if you took your eye off him for a minute, he’d appear in some random part of the audience, no doubt making someone incredibly nervous. I liked them a lot.
I took a chips-and-gravy break after Kruger’s set. Food of the gods, my friends, food of the gods.
When I got back, I got really excited when I saw Undersmile setting up; they had two female singers in dresses and clumpy boots, and that is always something I approve of. Sadly, that didn’t last long. I will reiterate my previous statement that I will never say that someone else’s art is bad, and I really don’t like saying this, but I did not enjoy these at all. The music felt like it was trying ever so hard to be darker than it was, overly much feedback, one chord every four beats, it just felt really dirgey. I feel awful for saying it, but I had to leave. I went upstairs to get a half until they finished their set. Yes, I bought a half. In the notes I was making on my phone, in my pitiful drunken state, I have written “Please make them stop. Someone…?”
I am confident they are to someone’s taste, just not mine I am afraid.
Next up were Bastions, and a much needed injection of energy. They very much made me think of Enter Shikari, with an unlikely looking singer who I have a sneaking suspicion may be carrying some personal issues around in his back pocket. As with Bast, there was a genuine fanbase in attendance, loads of passion from the audience, while the singer smacked himself repeatedly in the face with the mic. I liked these, but they were by no means my favourites of the day.
The band that my friend has been touring with are Coilguns and step forward another fucking nutter. They struck me as very much like At The Drive-In, both musically and in terms of the volume of the frontman’s hair. He bodily launched himself into the audience, lassooed a group of unsuspecting punters with the mic cable, dragged them around for a bit before leaping back onto the stage and tearing shit up. There was a young lad, maybe 16 or 17, who had been right up at the front for Bastions and he quite literally fled to the back of the venue in the face of Coilguns. D’awww.
There was a genuine moment of stunned silence at the start of their set while the audience struggled to catch up with what had just happened. I’d been stood up at the top of the stairs looking down on the stage up till that point, but there was just an infectious energy that made you want to throw yourself into the middle of it all. There were some lads up at the front who were pacing back and forward in front of the stage like big cats in an enclosure. Suddenly it all exploded, and I somehow managed to stay right on the edge of the maelstrom of windmilling arms and microphone cables without getting pulled in.
I have just noticed on their Facebook page that the singer – Louis Jucker – is credited with ‘vocals’ and ‘crowd fighting’. Excellent. Also fairly accurate. One of the funniest moments of the evening for me was when I was at the merch stand chatting to my friend, and I turned around to find Louis being carried towards us by some dude that he had leaped on, and was clinging onto for dear life. I liked Coilguns a lot.
Headlining the evening were Oathbreaker. The singer was a delicate looking lady in a floaty white gown and a forest-green shawl/cape. Obviously this is who most people were here to see, because the audience lit up again. She spent most of the set with her hair over her face like the quintessential small dead girl-child from Japanese horror films, so there’s no real way to tell whether she was enjoying herself or not. As a rule, I am not a big fan of female singers in metal, but this lady was OK actually. I tend to find with most metal, musically a band can’t really go wrong and it’s the vocals which will make or break for me. She didn’t break it, they were listenable and really commanded the stage and their audience well.
I appreciate that as an event, it wasn’t really focussed on the kind of music that I gravitate towards, but there were some genuine wins for me; Telepathy were very very good, and I would also definitely recommend checking out Coilguns and Kruger.
Incidentally, I encountered these on the way home.