Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Let them drink gin!


I may have narrowly missed out on tickets for the Blood Brothers / Help She Can't Swim gig, but that wasn't going to stop me going to Clwb tonight. You see, while the godfathers of screamo and the Brighton punks are doing their thing upstairs, there's plenty to enjoy downstairs too, courtesy of Kruger.

Evils, for a start.

Jamie Hale's music has found favour with everyone from Radio 1's Steve Lamacq, Rob da Bank and Huw Stephens to Hot Chip and Akira The Don - and it soon finds favour with me. Hale may perform from within a wendy house, but there's nothing remotely fey, drippy or Belle-&-Sebastian-influenced about the often playful but occasionally sinister electro that he creates within (for evidence of the latter, just check out the opening to 'There Is No Santa Claus' on the Evils MySpace page...).

Above Hale's brightly coloured plastic temporary accommodation, images of primitive computer equipment are projected onto a screen, and footage of Jeremy Beadle on 'Eureka' follows. Often playful but occasionally sinister, as I said.

Once the wendy house has been dismantled and returned to its flat-pack state, it's the turn of Gindrinker to pick up that same playful-but-sinister thread and run with it - something the maverick duo do with relish. They open with 'Ian The Dog Murderer' and follow it up with 'Covered In Bugs', the latter (concerning the discovery of a dead child) embellished with a genius additional couplet: "Two weeks of piano lessons WASTED! / They paid upfront DAMMIT!" As introductions go, it's rather more offensive than "How do you do?"

Thereafter there's a message from Kim Jong-Il, two fingers up to Tom Jones, the customary Q&A session, mutterings about being "a milksop" and "a dog trapped in a man's body", a song about 'Bullseye' and another about a local pub which manages to include both the catchphrase-in-waiting "EFFING AND FUCKING JEFFING?!" and a reference to Dionne Warwick.

Imagine if Chris Morris was a fan of Big Black, and you'll be close. This is the third time I've been exposed to Gindrinker's unique brand of terrorism, and I'm fast becoming convinced they're the most entertaining band in Cardiff.

After complaining that local bands were unjustly overlooked at the Kruger Christmas party, I'm pleased to report that the line-up the magazine had assembled for their first gig of the new year was entirely Cardiff-centric. Kruger had an additional reason for wanting to promote Space In The 50s' debut live performance, though. In the most recent issue, they point to several bands who (they suggest) were killed off by "The Curse Of Kruger"; these include Death From Above 1979, Clor and The Martini Henry Rifles - and two thirds of tonight's headliners used to be in the latter. An attempt to make amends, then.

For guitarist / vocalist Chris Warlow and bassist / vocalist Fudge Wilson, Space In The 50s don't mark a significant departure from their earlier exploits - no matter how many times between songs Warlow mentions the band name as if to stress the Martinis are dead and this is something new. There's not quite the same intensity and brick-in-the-face brutality that terrified a whole host of delicate Young Knives fans back in March, but the songs are still driven by low, meaty bass riffs and contain copious quantities of abrasive guitar.

I remain pretty much unmoved by their twenty minute set, though, not least because drummer Marvini Phillips often struggles to keep up with the necksnapping pace set by those in front of him. That said, the partisan and expectant crowd hardly cares - and perhaps these glitches will have been ironed out by the time they come to play their next gig at Buffalo in a couple of weeks' time. I might well be there to find out...


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