Wednesday 8 October 2014

Goat and Lay Llamas at Roundhouse - 03 October 2014


Things start off pretty well.

We’re at the Roundhouse to see Goat, but first off we have to negotiate the support act.

The Lay Llamas are a band formed around the core of Nicola Giunta and Gioele Valenti. They are strung out across the stage in a line.

Initially, things aren’t too promising. The band are playing a polite type of vaguely psychedelic music that seems pleasant enough but which rather drifts by without leaving much of an impression.

It’s clearly well performed, but the singer has a rather nondescript voice and stage presence. The songs sound as though they are sketches for something that hasn’t been completed yet.

There is however one glorious exception. One song is an absolute corker, a krautrock-y beast based on abrasive guitar riffs. It goes on for about five minutes and is generally fantastic.

Unfortunately, the band go back to being ho-hum again and eventually shuffle offstage.

The venue seems unpleasantly packed this evening. We are crushed like sardines in the middle of the floor and it soon becomes very difficult to move or see. Or even to stand. Meanwhile, the queues to the toilets are long and slow moving and less accessible than in a football ground. The bars too seem unable to cope. I don’t know if the average Goat fan is unusually thirsty, but punters are queuing fifteen deep for weak lager.

It’s an extremely uncomfortable atmosphere, as though you are trapped in a place that could get out of hand.

When Goat take the stage, the room erupts.

Goat are an enigma wrapped in a mystery hidden behind some very natty robes and masks. Band members are deliberately anonymised behind elaborate costumes. Two singers chant and whirl in front of the wash of psychedelic afro beat and wah-wah guitars behind them.

The stage makes space for an artificial tree, its angular branches casting strange Goya-like outlines on the projected backdrop, which is itself a riot of kaleidoscopic colour.

It’s probably fair to say that while the totality of the Goat live experience is wonderful, the individual tracks tend to blur together a bit.

An exception is the fantastic ‘Run to Your Mama’ which tonight forms the centrepiece of the Goat set. A song as vibrant and dynamic as you will hear anywhere, tonight it is the perfect blend of crescendo and chorus.  

However, the overcrowding in the venue is just becoming ridiculous. My colleagues gradually make their excuses and retire to the perimeter. I stay for a while, but after an interminable trip to the loos, spend the rest of the evening trying to meet up with a friendly face. Bizarrely, at the edges of the crowd, people are making no pretence to watch the band, but just natter to each other and get in the way.

It’s awful in here. I can’t move, I can’t drink, I can’t pee. I cut my losses and leave.

Goat were good, though.

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