Friday, November 03, 2006

Fright night


Upstairs in the Model Inn tonight it's Hallowe'en F.A.G.-style - and that means superb costumes (making me feel woefully underdressed and unimaginative), apple bobbing, neck sucking and some fine musical entertainment.

First up are local cult duo Gindrinker, and it takes them less than a song to reveal quite why they're thought of in those terms. They are, to all intents and purposes, a stripped-down Fall plus drum machine fronted by a misanthrope on a gin bender.

Certain songs are - as the band's Vic Reeves-esque raconteur recognises - suited to Hallowe'en (particularly the one about being chopped up and left in bin bags in the woods), while others are less so (the anti-greengrocer rant and 'God Of Darts', a wonky shouty hymn in praise of Jim Bowen and 'Bullseye'). There's no finesse or polish, just scabrous wit in spades. Let's just say I like the cut of their jib.

There follows a brief piece of barely-rehearsed performance art featuring members of Drunk Granny and Gender Fascist which takes the form of a theatrical song about suicidal female authors. You can't help but appreciate lines like "My name is Sylvia Plath, so please don't let me near the gas" and the rousing climax of "O what a thrill to be mentally ill!"...

After the charming chaos of the evening's first two performances, Drei are very different. The Brighton trio, for whom Cardiff is a stop-off on a short UK tour, are evidently very accomplished musicians who share an intuitive understanding with each other.

They specialise in a sinister form of post-rocky jazz with the occasional fluttering of electronics, though the final song - a rousing footstomping Cossack-style jig - marks a significant departure from that blueprint. By the end of their set, I'm left cursing myself for having allowed my attention to be swayed barwards for the early part of their set.

Drei's cellist Bela Emerson isn't finished there, though. The night ends with an improvised collaboration between her and Lily Green, fresh from making her Clwb debut two days earlier. With Lily locked in the zone, pounding away maniacally at her keyboard with stunning verve and aggression, Bela's contribution is often overpowered and overshadowed. Nevertheless, the fruit of their efforts is gripping in its intensity, and conjures up dark images appropriate to the occasion.


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