Thursday, November 24, 2005

Kung fu fighting


The gigs are coming thick and fast for fledgling Birmingham band StrangeTime - they played at the Bar Academy barely two weeks ago, and they’ve got another lined up for 15th December – and it’s having a noticeable effect on the performances, this being the slickest and sharpest yet, despite a shake-up to the set and the debuting of a new song, ‘Interference’. No difficulties locating drumsticks this time, and ‘Ex Boyfriend’, performed with gusto, makes for an arresting opening, while ‘Dressing Up’ and ‘Mundane’ (played last) steal the show as usual. Guitarist / vocalist Kate Finch and bassist Tara Hartel might remain static for the most part, but this could easily pass for icy cool as much as for nerves.

Cardiff’s The International Karate Plus, I am reliably informed, are named after a cult classic computer game. I’m imagining it must be quite violent, judging by the evident relish that the threesome set about boxing in our ears. The initial brutality recalls the sadly defunct Mclusky, but as the set gradually calms down (or is it just a matter of acclimatisation?) it’s the unjustly ignored Mo-Ho-Bish-O-Pi who are brought to mind.* They also look the part – energetic guitarist, tall rangy bassist brandishing his instrument like a weapon, sunglasses-wearing drummer knocking over his mike stand in the heat of the moment but taking the chaos in his stride – and there’s no better lyric than “Everything I like about you, I like about someone else” delivered tonight.

The nominal headliners labour under the moniker I Am Zeitgeist in several ways. Firstly, and most obviously, because it's pretty terrible. Secondly, because there's nothing particularly zeitgeisty or cutting-edge about them. Of course, even if there was, then that'd only be the case for six months to a year, but we could have hoped for something better than competent but rather stale American rock filtered through British (and particularly Manc) indie. It's a shame, because of the three bands they're evidently the most at ease - or perhaps simply the most under the influence of chemical relaxants / stimulants, especially bassist JJ whose grin is just visible beneath his enormous afro.

* Update Since putting this review up online yesterday, I've been in touch with Rich of The International Karate Plus, who informs me that two thirds of the band were once in Mo-Ho-Bish-O-Pi! Meanwhile, Simon of Sweeping The Nation has made the same point in the comments box. Before seeing them live I knew precisely nothing about them, so I guess that suggests my perceptive faculties are sharper than I thought...


Pete’s review of the gig, which was the last of the fourteen in his Going Deaf For A Fortnight endurance test

MySpace pages for The International Karate Plus and I Am Zeitgeist

Purevolume page for StrangeTime


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