Monday 16 March 2009

Death Cigarettes / Breakneck Static at Tommy Flynn's 13 March 2009

TOP: Death Cigarettes (c)
Breakneck Static by Alistair Underwood

First band Breakneck Static bring their second song of the evening to a conclusion. We are about thirty seconds into their set. Breakneck they are, static they are not.

Singer Rei stands mostly motionless, clutching her mike stand. Sometimes she screams, sometimes she sings. She is the calm eye of quite a considerable storm.

The rest of Breakneck Static are crashing around the stage like drunken wildebeests, bashing into each other and thrashing the living spit out of their instruments. Striking drummer Debbie Lane wallops along, yelping into a headset, while her brother Adrian jerks and contorts with his guitar in front of her. A second guitarist Bryan is oblivious to others, careering into other band members, bent double, bouncing on the spot. Occasionally he parps down an alto saxophone. It’s bedlam.

Over the past twelve months there seems to have developed a refreshing trend away from bland pop. Evil sexy guitar mashing loudness is coming back in a big way. It’s also the case that simple tunes are being discarded in favour of complex song structures, weird time signatures and a general spirit of anything goes. It’s a hardcore punk ferociousness welded to British eccentricity.

So Breakneck Static sound like Rolo Tomassi drag racing with Melt Banana off a cliff into oblivion. Strapped to an atom bomb. Or something else wild and exciting. However you describe it, they are a mind-blowing proposition and leave you quite stunned.

They are a tough act to follow. Fortunately next up comes the first outing of 2009 for this blog’s band of 2008. Death Cigarettes are in the house and are revved up for action.

Have they still got it? Damn straight they have! Armed with a clutch of new songs they take the venue by storm. Singer Maya starts from her traditional starting place in the crowd, barging past unsuspecting punters who have gathered to see what the three guys on stage are doing. Guys who appear to be attempting to loosen our bowels with guitars thrust into speakers, provoking squalls of feedback.

Once on stage Maya stands with her arms outstretched in front of her in her patented zombie stance. Then she’s back into the crowd and the rest of the set is Armageddon.

At different times during the next twenty minutes or so we see the singer standing on tables and bar and leaping down into the crowd, the bouncers who are standing outside charging in looking confused because of what appears to be a riot going on behind them and various people happily entangled in the miles of microphone lead that the band employ for this purpose.

For reasons known only to themselves, the band have declared that this evening is ‘werewolf’ night and mark the occasion with a largely unrecognisable version of Warren Zevon’s ‘Werewolves of London’. This new version lasts about two minutes rather than nine and consists of much guitar trouncing and wolf howling.

A triumph, as always.

After these two acts, headliners Widows are pretty much boned. Their sleazy, spacey psychedelic tinged stoner rock is in sharp contrast with the spiky ten million watt voltage of the previous bands. They aren’t bad at what they do, and they have a fine line in theatrics, from smeared Heath Ledger–as -The Joker make-up to a singer who louchely gyrates like a Southern dandy. It’s just that in comparison with the young guns from earlier they seem too sedate and, bluntly, old. Not their fault, but not their night.

Breakneck Static and Death Cigarettes are the sound of things to come. It’s going to be awesome.

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