Friday 11 April 2008

Battlekat: Cross Kings

Battlekat pic courtesy Sarah E. Kosminsky Film & Photography

When were you last truly happy?

There has been a lot of stuff written recently about how, despite generally living in the lap of relative luxury, we are all apparently deeply miserable and apt to throw ourselves under a train at any moment.

Well boo bloody hoo. Last night I had more fun at a gig than I have had in absolutely ages, even though, with my hand on heart, there was only one act that I unconditionally loved. It was one of those mad evenings, when great stuff just kept happening, gathering its own momentum until I just stood there drinking it all in with a big, stupid pissed-up grin on my face. It was ladies night, and the feeling was right, oh what a night (etc).

To be honest, the female theme of the evening started even before we got to the venue, as we enjoyed a few liveners in the Lincoln Lounge. There we were mesmerised a barmaid of such Amazonian magnificence that it was hard to have a conversation with anybody who was looking at her, because they tended to go deaf and drool in an unfortunate manner.

In buoyed spirits we repaired to the Cross Kings, where we had been promised a four-band bill topped by popular favourites Battlekat.

There were lots of people milling about, and we sold our souls by taking a flyer from one of the support bands to get a pound off the entrance fee. The band in question were Sinking Cruise Ship Rescue Drama, who had pulled out all the stops, even though this was apparently their first ever gig. They were giving away sets of themed badges (Mine says ‘Rescue’) and had decorated the stage with dozens of facsimile Evening Standard newsstand posters with real headlines, among which were the name of the band. The stage was strewn with lights, and, in a worrying development, there were four chairs on the stage.

And my forebodings were justified when SCSRD started up. What they do is instrumental post-rock and I am sorry, but that is the one genre of music in which I can find very little enjoyment. If I go to see an act, I want to be entertained – and guys on stools playing scales don’t do it. I can just about hack this kind of stuff as background noise, just don’t expect me to stand around in awe and admire your virtuosity. An ‘A’ for effort for trying to make it interesting, however and I should also say that the place was very busy and most of the people there DID appear to like it.

Beating a retreat to the other bar, we were picking through the various flyers on display and found some that appeared to be for this venue tonight, but with an entirely different line up of bands. Checking with the guy taking money revealed that the Cross Kings has a second, underground, club in its basement.

We had been to the venue before and assumed that the entrance to this was a door to an upstairs Comedy Club…but not a bit of it. We headed down the steps into what appeared to be the depths of Hell, a subterranean cavern with devils and flames on the walls; but then entered what is pretty much my idea of heaven.

We were greeted at the door by a posse of delightfully vivacious young ladies, who were running a rock night and were very happy to see us. They are Chog Town Music and they have got a terrific set-up down here. The basement bar is just right for loud, filthy music and, at least tonight, was empty enough for you to wander about as you liked whilst still being pretty full with an astounding audience. In the dark of a corner, a gang of impossibly hip Japanese kids lurked, with lap top computers and electric bird's nest hair. Among them a stunning girl dressed as a 1920’s flapper, shimmied in a golden dress. Elsewhere a tall blonde shrugged off her top to dance in a torn T shirt.

The first band were Class Of 1984, a power rock trio with occasional prog tendencies. This kind of music only makes sense in places like this, but right here, right now, they are just what the doctor ordered. Great fun. And once more, great hair.

Following on, and apparently filling in at short notice, are Melody Nelson, a more rootsy, blues rock kind of act, who once again, sound terrific. As the increasingly surreal evening progresses, Sheridan Smith, the stunning and gifted young actress from Two Pints of Lager and Love Soup, comes bounding in, in wonderfully uninhibited mood, hugging everyone and saying “It’s OK, cos he’s my brother.” By now there is so much happiness in the room, that you can almost taste it.

However good it was downstairs, we still had duties in the other venue, so we piled back up to catch the new-look Battlekat. Pouting, preening foxtress Mimi Muller is attired in tight leggings with solar systems on them, a waistcoat fashioned from a Kiss jacket and a Sally Bowles type bowler. Quite the picture, as ever.

The set list seems mostly new since the last time we saw them, and it looks from the rest of the band that there may have been at least one change in the line up. But some things never change – Mimi spends only the barest minimum of time on the stage, and the maximum time among the crowd, toying with them like a cat does with a shrew. I’m just a complete sucker for bratty girlie rock pop and Battlekat never disappoint. Although, I am slightly saddened that they seem to have jettisoned some of their more outré earlier songs such as ‘Sweet Ass Battlekat’ in favour of more straightforward numbers.

After a triumphant show, I briefly head back down into the inferno for a quick blast of the Chog Town DJs, before heading off deliriously into the night.

Girls and rock music – you just can’t beat it.


Godlike Genius said...

Sounds like a great evening! Sorry I missed it! I was across town bowling with work colleagues...

Unknown said...

Thanks for the kind words and am glad you enjoyed our night. You must come and party with us again very soon xXx

Anonymous said...

Cheers for the review. We're downstairs in the Cross Kings Jester Bar June 12th so come see us!!!
Chog Town