It’s an early start and therefore finish tonight and so Flyying Colours are up first as support, the guitarist even sporting A Place To Bury Strangers T-shirt to herald the main act. After three songs, they describe their between song banter (asking each other what drinks they have on stage) as an effort to fit into what they call the “Fringe Comedy Festival”. The drummer has taken his cues from krautrock, producing a robotnik groove in conjunction with the bassist in what could be a cover of the Stooges TV Eye amongst a set of songs that comfortably easily fits into the genre of shoe-gaze.
Before the main attraction, as I stand idly awaiting the arrival of the main act, I survey the stage and note the APTBS drum decoration and a set list skewered on the hi-hat like a diner order. Suddenly the lights go out and with bassist Dion Lunadon’s twiddle of knobs on a Square Wave Oscillation Machine at the back of the stage, the set begins with We’ve Come So Far, frenetic strobe lighting giving the effect that you are seeing the band in snapshot frozen moments appearing to be fighting their instruments. Dion switches his bass guitar mid-song and guitarist Oliver Ackermann twice has his guitar strap come loose due to violent onstage activity. He holds out and offers his guitar to the audience to strum, then presses the guitar headstock on the ceiling to hold it one handed and adjust a ride cymbal that has been knocked out of place from drummer Lia Braswell’s kit (and that’s just during the first song). Oliver abandons attempts to reattach his guitar strap and then discards it altogether. For their third song, You Are The One, Dion employs a chainsaw bass sound, his holding technique up until now very reminiscent of Dr Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson almost trademark gun pose.
Their battered instruments have paint chipping, representative of their very active playing style and show that these guys are not too precious and as the gig progresses I realise they don’t care – they will sacrifice their instruments for the sake of the show.
Their sound is akin to an early although more violent Yeah Yeah Yeahs encompassing the Jesus And Mary Chain via a long line of wall of feedback bands with reverb drenched vocals either shared or alternated between Lia and Oliver although Dion does make the occasional contribution. The reverb almost obscures individual words but later fact checking does reveal that the lyrics I had thought to have mistakenly misheard were in fact correct during fifth song Frustrated Operator (“all together, operators // Hot potato, operator”).
It almost feels like they are in a hurry to finish and be somewhere else. The brief breaks between songs are used to adjust effects pedals and little else with Lia only later verbally acknowledging the audience prior to their finish by thanking the Flyying Colours.
Deadbeat starts with a drumbeat lifted from a Cramps song before suddenly sounding like the Scientists’ We Had Love. Oliver performs a feedback drone in darkness leading into Lia’s solo moment to sing and play autoharp and the gig goes all wyrd folk. For Never Coming Back, Oliver and Lia share vocals to sing the refrain “And I get so high // When I get so Low”, Oliver making use of floor tom repositioned centre stage to effectively become a second drummer before playing slide guitar with a drumstick then falling over backwards, knocking over the floor tom and his microphone and lead are lost into the audience before a polite audience member hands it back. Dion meanwhile deliberately drops his bass, headstock down onto the audience floor, first attempting to retrieve it by lifting it back up by the lead then stepping onto the audience floor, and on the bass itself, to pick it up.
Following Situation Changes and during the closing song I Lived My Life To Stand In The Shadow of Your Heart, Oliver drops his guitar and plugs in a strobe light device, swinging it back and forth and then swirls it in a loop in the air before using it to slide across his guitar strings, letting it come to rest facing downward on the stage. The subsequent drawn out maelstrom of feedback produced is garnished by the flickering strobes as Dion removes his bass strings slowly one by one while still playing, leaving only one left intact when he throws his instrument violently to the floor twice. This is a more than appropriate way to end the preceding chaotic set. Oliver finishes by engaging with the audience, clutching their hands receiving hugs from the more enthusiastic fans in the crowd coming down from the previous hour of sensory overload that may have been all over just a little too soon.
Live review by Jason Leigh