Friday 19 June 2009

Kap Bambino / Advert at Cargo 16 June 2009

Kap Bambino

It’s a lovely summer’s evening and the venue seems almost entirely deserted. This is because everybody is sat outside and generally chilling. The time slot allocated for the first band passes without sign of interest from anyone except for a large guy pacing in front of the stage. He occasionally looks at his watch and has words with the DJ’s, who are either ignorant of events or the bearers of bad news.

Finally, languidly, the support band drag themselves up on stage. This is Advert and they soon dispel any easy summer vibe with a wall of feedback from three guitars. So apparently unstructured is their sound that it is a good few minutes before I can definitely tell that they have started their set and are not just having difficulty in getting their instruments as they would like them.

It isn’t particularly enthralling. Occasionally one of them will stoop over a microphone and mumble, and there is a sporadic drumbeat mixed in amongst the general sonic scree, but this seems lazy, derivative stuff. They don’t play for long either. It seems a token performance at best. [Reading that back, it sounds like the old Woody Allen joke – First old woman: “The food here is disgusting!” Second old woman: “Yes! And such small portions!”]

The stage is now bare apart from a small table with electronic equipment on it. A reasonable crowd is now milling in front. And then the bombs start going off.

Not literally, but certainly the sonic equivalent. Kap Bambino may only consist of a guy (Bouvier Orion) cranking up the beats and a tiny girl (Martial Caroline) singing and stomping, but my word, what a performance! The noise levels are terrific.

Martial is a constant blur of motion, often literally so as she whips her head from side to side under the strobed lighting until her facial features melt like the hallucinations in ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. She is never still.

The set relies heavily on the band’s ace new album ‘Blacklist’. Individual tracks are hard to distinguish because of the hundred-mile-an- hour pounding of the backing and the swooshing, buzzing ,electric static that will render me stone deaf for the rest of the night and most of the following day.

Those of you familiar with the set up at Cargo will be aware that the two main speakers hang overhead on chains on either side of the stage. Martial rushes from one to the other, hanging from them and swinging them alarmingly over the audience.

She repeatedly dives into the crowd of enthusiastic bodies and is either borne aloft or lost amongst their legs. She never stops shouting and singing for a second. At one stage she dares the crowd to join her on stage and they do, at which point she jumps to the floor and carries on, the roles reversed. Bouncers come onstage and clear everyone off, but they look bemused rather than angry.

At one point Martial emerges from the throng perched on the shoulders of the large guy from earlier in the evening. He supports her for around thirty seconds until his legs give out and he slowly sinks to the floor like a trusty steed whose heart has given out after a long gallop. She dismounts, gives him a hug and climbs back on stage, stopping only to mock head-butt the security guy, which is funny because she only reaches up to his belt buckle.

It’s an exhilarating, exhausting and disorientating show. There is a momentary respite as the band bounce off for water and a rest, but soon Martial is back, cavorting with a towel, which she repeatedly thrashes into the floor.

I stagger off into the night with my ears whistling like a kettle and a cut above my eye.

It’s still a lovely summer evening.

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