Monthly Archives: October 2014

OUCH MY GENERATOR! The Underworld, Camden, 18th October 2014

The Underworld BannerOne 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.

This is what you want from your toilet experience

This is what you want from your toilet experience

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…

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“Don’t mind me, just rearranging the venue…”

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.

GAAHH!

GAAHH!

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…?”

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I am really beginning to hate my phone camera…

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.

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The energy off of this band is contagious and addictive

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I’m winning no prizes for my photography.

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.

No, that's not a ghost, just the singer from Oathbreaker.

No, that’s not a ghost, just the singer from Oathbreaker.

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.

*shrug*

*shrug* Iunno. You tell me.

Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter… R

As part of my plan for international relocation, I have started taking Norwegian language lessons. I have currently completed 3 weeks of a 10 week course in basic Norwegian at a University in London.

Getting to the classes in the first place is an adventure in its own right, because I don’t actually live in London. London just happens to be the closest place that offered classroom-based lessons. I had initially looked at tutors, but at the time I thought that the cost was prohibitive – I reckon my opinion about that will have changed dramatically by the end of the first term.

I take a train direct into London, and then it’s a hop, skip and a jump on the Underground to Regent Street. All told, it takes me at least an hour and a half to get there; the journey back home is another matter entirely, but I will leave that for what I suspect will be a venomous rant about the state of public transport in the UK by the time the 10 weeks are over.

At least THEY are on time... [http://im.rediff.com/money/2013/may/13trans1.jpg]

…at least THEY are on time… [http://im.rediff.com/money/2013/may/13trans1.jpg]

As for the lessons themselves, I am thoroughly enjoying myself. I am never happier than when I am learning something…actually, that’s a lie; I am also really happy when I am drinking beer. But I digress! Learning is something I find really fulfilling, especially when it is something I am interested in to start with.

The language itself is surprisingly easy. Once you know how to pronounce it, a lot of it is similar enough to English and German that you can pick it apart and work out what it means. Being able to hear what is being said is still nigh on impossible, but I am finding that my ear is slowly starting to be able to separate out words and syllables, and I expect that is going to improve in increments as I learn more words and know what I am actually listening for.

Pronunciation started out being difficult, and still is – but for different reasons. I am aware that English is very different to most European languages in that we pronounce our vowels differently, but in addition to that, Norwegian has three vowels that simply don’t exist in English. Luckily enough, all the vowel sounds DO exist, you just have to remember to substitute the correct noises in.

Pretty much [http://larissakyzer.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/vowels_500.jpg]

Pretty much [http://larissakyzer.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/vowels_500.jpg]

The thing that has come up recently, and has really surprised me, is a rather inoffensive consonant. I am currently being undone by the letter ‘r‘.

I had never really thought about it before, but we don’t really pronounce hard ‘r‘ sounds in English. At the start of a word, let’s say “roger” for example, ‘r‘ is simply a modified ‘w‘. Anywhere else in a word and it’s just an ‘ah‘ sound.

Prior to Norwegian, the last language I studied was Spanish, where the ‘r‘ tends to be an over-exaggerated rolling sound. A lot of British people can’t even do it; I’m OK because I’ve spent a lot of my life practising by talking to cats. It’s better if you don’t look too closely into that one.

So, I am struggling at the moment, because my points of reference for the letter ‘r‘ are extreme opposites; none at all, and a full-on purr. This presents a problem with Norwegian, because the difference between the infinitive of a verb and the present tense is an ‘r‘ on the end, e.g. “å snakke” and “jeg snakker”.

As with anything else, practise will make perfect; muscle memory and all that. Eventually it will just become a shape my tongue makes normally, but right now it is surprisingly difficult.

And I thought I had learned to say my letters 30-odd years ago with Sesame Street…

This is NOT how you say R

This is NOT how you say R

Bunny Splicer Costume

I decided a little while ago that I wanted to make a bunny splicer mask, and by extension, a whole costume. I would like to be able to say it was because I was invited to a Halloween party.

It wasn’t. I just wanted one.

For reference, Splicers are the things that scare the living shit out of you in the video game Bioshock. They wear Venetian style masquerade masks to cover up increasingly severe facial deformities. They creep about muttering and cackling to themselves, and you tend to hear them before you see them.

Bunny

Did I mention scaring the living shit out of you…?

This is not a tutorial by the way, simply a demonstration of how I like to waste my time. I decided to start with the hale bale/meat hooks. I was very tempted to buy some off eBay but having thought through the ramifications of wandering about with actual weapons, I decided against that.

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The Strongbow was more creative lubricant than project material.

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When did I stop having normal metal coathangers? They have all disappeared from my house.

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Before any of my smart-ass friends says anything, this is drumstick and not a broom handle.

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Precision *cough*

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Monkey toes come in handy sometimes.

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Meh. There or thereabouts.

I had to use a different coat hanger in the end, because the first one I tried wasn’t flexible enough to use on the handle. As it turned out, I had to Evo-Stick the damn thing together anyway.

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While I waited for the hardcore glue to dry on the hooks, I got my sister to come around and help me with the mask. I started with a tinfoil base – I wanted to use mesh, but decided too late to go out and get any.

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Bringing the class.

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One of the few useful features of tabloid journalism.

For the fluid mix, I used simple plain flour and water. I did add in some salt, because I read somewhere that it would decrease the chances of it going moldy, or something.

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I had a misplaced idea that I could avoid making a mess…

I feel like she was enjoying this too much.

She cheerfully pointed out that it looked like something large had spunked on my head.

She cheerfully pointed out that it looked like something large had spunked on my head.

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Left this to dry draped over a rubber skull. You know, like you do.

The paper maché took quite a while to dry, and in the end, I put it in the oven on a low temperature because BORED. While that was cooking, I attached the top section to the now dry handles of the hooks.

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Duck tape. One of my favourite things in the world, ever.

Once I had the paper maché base dried (successfully avoiding burning it) I had the basic shape of the top half of my head, which since I am not a rabbit, was lacking in some of the significant features of the mask that I wanted to end out with.

I added a section of cardboard to form the cheeks of the rabbit, first soaking it in the flour/water mix, and then shaping it to fit the mask. I added more layers of newspaper to smooth out the surface, and then back to the oven it went.

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I used the exact same process to add ears, after trimming the outside edge of the mask to form the face shape I wanted.

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Don’t judge my oven, I very rarely use it.

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Bunny Mask Selfie

I cut out some eye holes and added a cute wee nose.

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Actually, cute might not be the word I am looking for here.

I ummed and ahhed over how to do the piping around the edge, but settled on modelling clay.

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I had bound the main body of the hooks with parcel twine, and then used paper maché to smooth it all out. I also used the clay to make some points on the hooks.

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Beginning to resemble what I was after.

I painted it all up with acrylic paint left over from other projects, and later glued on a head strap from an old eye mask that I sacrificed to the cause.

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Starting to get really excited about the end product at this point. A little too much, perhaps…

Next, I needed some fake blood; I used corn flour, red and blue food colouring, and a couple of dashes of soy sauce. IMG_20141002_180333 IMG_20141002_181249

It absolutely stank, but it looked good. I took the mask out into the garden so that I could aggressively flick the fake blood at it – I was thinking arterial splatter. I am fairly confident that is not a sentence I have ever used before, or ever will again.

I'm sure I've seen a film like this...

I’m sure I’ve seen a film like this…

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Aprés-squirt.

With the blood on and drying out, it was time to shred up the dress I had bought…IMG_20141002_190729…and then take it outside and clean my car with it.

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No really. It’s been at least 3 years since my car was last washed.

I was going for hand-prints and smears in addition to the drips and splatters.

I actually giggled in joy at this.

I actually giggled in joy at this.

While I later found out that the blood didn’t really work as intended once it had dried out, I was really pleased with how it looked when it was wet.

IMG_20141002_194911Especially on the handles of the hooks, after I had bound them with more parcel twine.IMG_20141002_194936

This all took place over the course of 5 weeks. I would say that a good 5 hours work went into it in total. Anyway, learned some lessons, had a lot of fun…and actually found a party to go to!

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Nailed it.