Powerplant / Legss / Folly Group – Old Blue Last, 11 March 2020
Impenetrable poetry with Legss, coal-powered punk and inspirations of self-doubt
Ahead of arrival, I sat in the window of the Shoreditch High Street Pret, drinking coffee and writing six (very) short stories.
I mention this, because prior to the gig I was elated with my imagined artistic credentials. Afterwards, I wasn’t.
Legss’ impenetrably poetic performance forced me to reassess my recent literary output. It helped me conclude that I’m still wanting.
It’s one hell of a thing when a band inspires that sort of retrospection.
English Literature Students Must Know Legss
I’ll start by setting the scene.
Upstairs, the Old Blue Last was rammed with English Literature students from Queen Mary. Considering Coronavirus achieved pandemic status earlier that afternoon, it was an impressive turnout. It also made me notice that the air was acrid, and the usual East London scents weren’t in attendance.
Before the first band, the crowd muttered of assignments due, lecture attendance, summer aspirations, and how often they’d been to Printworks.
Pints were swilled with youthful enthusiasm. Maybe gulped is better.
Someone even wandered around the crowd, shouting to his friends, “You know what we should do, we should buy some drugs.” Yet to realise that everyone does drugs and it’s not really worth screaming about.
It was cool to be present with a student audience though, however obnoxious they may have been. At least they actually seemed to be excited about something.
First up were Folly Group, an experimental, four piece electronic, punk (?) band from London.
Interestingly, they had two percussionists.
Maracas shook, pulse tubes chimed, the vocalist braaped, and the guitarist and bassist shifted scales up and down with reckless abandon.
Each song employed contrasting tempos, but the only one I recognised was Butt Not Rifle (probably because it’s the only one on Folly Group’s Soundcloud and the only one I know).
The set was interesting, but it was hard to distinguish between songs. So I guess that means some of it lacked distinction.
Before Legss took the stage, I unknowingly stood behind a young man with a mullet and a clam-shell necklace. Who knew he’d be the drummer?
Legss kicked off their set with a poem that was hard to navigate, but made the night’s keywords easily identifiable (yes, Folly Group and Powerplant got a mention).
The baseball cap adorned singer references the mundane against the literary and the group acknowledged that this was Legss main draw. Stories of the banal, and yet not so banal, spoken in a way that reminds you of how Pete Doherty rambles, but with better references and way, way more bite.
It was strange that the frontman’s manc accent (??) didn’t translate into his performance. Unless it was a concept thing about how poetry should only be spoken proper. Either way, it made for strange listening against the ‘banter’ between sets.
His lyrics bewildered, but intrigued, that may not really make that much sense when they’re drilled down, but they were the sort of thing that could inspire you to fear and question your own ability to write prose.
I’m focussing too much on the singer. It sounds like I’ve got a crush.
Instrumentally, Legss were an expected post-punk affair. One lead into a song sounded almost exactly like Slint’s Good Morning, Captain. Perhaps it was.
Everything worked, perhaps because it’s easier to weave bizzare concepts with words than experimental sounds.
Legss were bold, pretentious and very different.
I really liked Legss, but perhaps that’s down to me wanting to be bold, pretentious and very different.
You should really go and see them.
With a fill of Legss, I considered leaving before Powerplant started, but having wedged myself in the corner and suddenly surrounded by students, I was forced to stay.
Powerplant played explosive, proto-punk with some electronic elements.
The frontman had an almost Johnny Ramone bowl cut. He also kept requesting more guitar, which is in form with a Powerplant. Did you know that a coal firing power station can take up to six months to prep (clean)?
I’d heard Powerplant’s recordings before and found them flat. Not so live.
In stark contrast to Legss, it wasn’t like they were really doing anything that new, but they did play well constructed, muscular punk. While listening through all of their latest album, People In The Sun, can get samey very quickly, it was actually really electric live.
The crowd liked it too.
But I think most of them had only gone to throw beers, get soggy and inappropriately touch their friends.
Perhaps punk and metal gigs are some of the last bastions of sexual harassment.
I wouldn’t know. I was standing in the corner.