Monday, March 10, 2008

Let there be drummers!

Dalston Barden’s Boudoir. 07mar08.

Drummer and vocalist Ian Vanek is yelping “no, no lets do that again” and not for the first time. Anxious repetition like this may well be due to a constant pursuit of perfection or possibly indicative of an artist so in thrall to three or four of his own songs, he’s going to keep playing them until we appreciate them correctly, GODDAMMIT!

In this case it’s mainly down to the fact that the jostling amongst the audience means the communal activity of tipping over the lip of the stage into the drum set placed near the front is occurring with increasing regularity. Having to remain so alert to the prospect of his instrument peeling apart, like a flower freshly in bloom, is putting Vanek off his stroke somewhat.

That’s on the one hand though, the hand that causes him to fretfully request that “you guys need to stay away from the drums, I’m a much better drummer than you are.” However the other hand loves it. This hand is the one down the other end of the arm that has an amphetamine-chewing, skater-angel stationed on its allied shoulder, as opposed to the hoity, officious devil sat upright on the other, both whispering their instructions into either ear.

On this other more rebellious, less uniform hand, Vanek is screaming, along with colleague Matt Reilly, “let’s rip this place to shreds”, and trying to ease the congestion in front of the stage by inviting the entire audience to join them on it. It is this hand which operates 95% of Vanek’s thinking, but causes the problem of the stage-collected audience crashing at skins and cymbals with their sweaty hands like they’re auditioning for a part in ‘Stomp’.

Feeling guilty about letting the bureaucratic, fussy 5% reveal itself, Vanek later apologises and repents “I’m sorry guys, you can all hit the drums now, go nuts.” At this point the line between act and audience becomes so blurred it’s like viewing the show through a translucent shower curtain, and is indicative of the chaos that makes evenings like this such a success.

After all, Japanther categorise themselves as a dance band and, on that score, mission accomplished early into proceedings. Vanek’s drums and Reilly’s bass are the sole instruments save for synth lines and samples coming from a tape which jerks in and out of operation, adding to the general hubbub, which is ideal really as the spirit here is sweaty rock n’ roll, Stooge-punk and cogent, singalonga noisecore. The songs themselves, thanks to the tapes, give the live rhythm a buzz-pop sheen that, like the phone-reciever mics into which their harmonies are sung, doesn’t detract from the intensity of their performance.

They say rock n’roll is the devil’s music, but clearly that depends how you wish to categorise the respective modus operandi of the ‘good’ and the ‘evil’. Some might suggest it’s the other way around but, as far as I’m concerned tonight, the relaxed angel beat the uptight devil, thanks to the support of an audience upf’rit from the get-go, and a band willing to let anything happen. Well, most of the time.

Japanther website
Japanther MySpace



Blogger Ben said...

Nice review - and I'm liking the MySpace tracks a lot, particularly 'River Phoenix'. Reminds me a bit of No Age - have you heard them?

12:44 am  
Blogger skif said...

No, but I believe they're appearing on a forthcoming 'Upset the Rhythm' show - might check it out. My ideal London promoters it would seem and mostly putting on stuff in East London - great days!

7:43 am  

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