GIG REVIEW: L.A. Peach and Lacuna Common – Three Free Gigs #8

There are a bunch of free gigs in London. Each week I go to three and review them.

The rating system’s simple: how many beers did I buy (drink)? The more, the better.

8. L.A. Peach and Lacuna Common @ Blondies, London

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Henry learns that exceptionally good punk comes from Oxford and L.A. Peach is totally besotted.

Blondies - Inside
Apparently heaven and hell are both teal. Neon lights @ Blondies.

This was my first visit to Lower Clapton’s Blondies.

It’s dark, the space is tight and it’s drenched in neon. The stage is situated right next to the entrance, so beware, once the curtain’s drawn and the band have started, you’re stuck – unless you want to join the performance and navigate whoever’s playing.  

It’s the only hole in Hackney where the stuff on tap is almost exclusive Vice’s beer– bit of a shame because it’s not very good. There’s also a terrace hidden at the back, so there’s at least one reason to go for an actual drink – just remember, the terrace closes at 21:00 (it’s actually quite cool).

Last night, Blondies were hosting Oxford indie / punk trio Lacuna Common and London-based five-piece L.A. Peach (I think they’re a five-piece, but maybe it’s just a singer with a guitar and some friends).

The crowd was made up of animated mannequins from Beyond Retro. I was wearing a white button-up shirt, carrying a laptop and felt like a total prick.

First up, Lacuna Common seriously impressed. They’re really fucking good.

Lacuna Common at Blondies
Not quite a glimpse from the bathroom. Lacuna Common @ Blondies

The band play that ‘blood-in-your-teeth’ kind of punk (defiantly British), the type that somehow makes stories about the banality of life seem interesting (like an imagined pint of vodka). Punchy and almost immediately captivating, their songs were simple, catchy, held the right amount of suspense, while consistently delivering a certain despondency.

The frontman spat out tales of having no money, people not caring enough about him, skinny jeans and twats from Oxford, while the bassist occasionally chimed in with his own wheys and woes. Instrumentally, it’s basic and the lyrics aren’t anything new, but it really worked. Like, really worked. 

(I REALLY LIKED LACUNA COMMON)

Lacuna Common T-Shirt
Do you reckon dad’ll look good in this? Lacuna Common merch @ Blondies

Their dad was at the back selling t-shirts and white vinyl pressings of their latest single, Not the Same. Going on the performance, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone actually bought one.

L.A. Beach didn’t have Lacuna Common’s energy, but I think that’s the point.

The band’s vibe is dreamy and they deliver subdued, low-tempo numbers that build into strangely gritty and unnerving sonnets. All quite melodic.

LA Peach at Blonies
I couldn’t see L.A. Peach, so I just watched the bartender twist out orange juice with a magic orange squeezing robot @ Blondies

Between songs they were kind enough to add liner notes through a lot of one-sided dialogue with the crowd (how post-modern).

Transcribed below, I hope they’ll help you understand a little bit more about the band:

L.A. Peach is the best thing you’ve seen all night,” – they’re not too cocky.

What do you call a chicken with a piece of lettuce in its eye? Sees-a-salad” (Caesar salad, get it?) – they’re masters of comedy.

When I was in year three, I had to run the relay race at sports day. Stick [baton] in hand, I tripped and fell into this girl’s crotch.” – they’ve all had a really traumatic upbringing.

Have you seen my girlfriend? Doesn’t she look like Trent Reznor?” – they’ve got a lot of respect for women.

All of this context helped me fully appreciate their songs. Particularly why they tricked you into a false sense of security by sounding sweet and ethereal (the type of thing you put on when your mother’s round) then suddenly got really psychotic.

It was kind of like this: bright guitar and a slow groove overlaid with tales of loving someone so much you want to flay their skin and wear it when meeting their parents.

One thing that was clear throughout was that L.A. Peach’s singer / guitarist (maybe L.A. Peach himself) was completely besotted with his new lover (the keyboardist). (Check out this feature in Clash if you don’t believe me).

I hope it works out.

Four_Beers

4 BEERS

GIG REVIEW: Fake Turins – Three Free Gigs #5

There are a bunch of free gigs in London. Each week I go to three and review them.

The rating system is simple. How many beers did I buy (drink)? The more, the better.

5. Fake Turins, Shattercones and Japan Review @ 26 Leake Street, London

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Henry learns that Fake Turins are NOT Hard-Fi beats with William Burroughs inspired lyrics.

26 Leake Street
This place will definitely impress Sandra in HR – outside 26 Leake Street, London

This was my first visit to 26 Leake Street.

It’s an open-plan, neon-lit bar, hidden under covered railway arches near Waterloo station. I’d describe it as ‘organise your next post-work binge here and it’ll probably impress your colleagues’ cool.

Yeah, swathes of graffiti, skateboards clattering and kids screaming, ‘fuck off’ at each other. The bar’s also hosting an official Nelson Mandela exhibition, so there’s culture too (great excuse to miss that mandatory weekend gallery excursion).

It inspired me to ask myself, “is 26 Leake Street a bar for revolutionaries?

Then I remembered that I knew the answer to that already:

Yes, of course it was!

Are you Nation of Ulysses? Oh well, chin up…

I was there to see Fake Turins.

The facebook event page described them as, “Nomadic Disco-Punk that blends the poetic irreverence of Burroughs with the modern cynicism of David Foster Wallace.

How Henry inspired Fake Turins 

The description quoted above has been revised.

Ahead of the gig, it claimed that the band were, “Hard-Fi beats overlayed with poetry inspired by William Burroughs carrying the modern cynicism and irony of David Foster Wallace.” Or something like that.

It’s funny, they must have changed it because they overheard me saying how ridiculous it was. Look Fake Turins, I know I’m a pretty big deal, but please stop being so insecure.

I’m sure I’d heard boasts like that before!

Who did it remind me of? Oh yeah, Nation of Ulysses, everyone’s favourite Washington DC punk band to quote when you’re having an argument about how Refused aren’t that original. You know, that band that claimed to be revolutionaries working hard to overthrow the capitalist system.

Fake Turins seemed to be describing themselves in a very similar way. But maybe they were just joking.

I mean, I don’t mind a bit of intentional over exaggeration (I’m not a monster, am I?).

Then they did sound check.

Between ‘1-2 1-2Fake Turins’ front-man recited poetry.

It confirmed my suspicions: Fake Turins were really pretentious (and insecure).

So, having established that this review is completely objective, let’s get to it:

The actual review

Japan Review kicked it off with some dreary dreampop; a lot to distortion and aural landscaping (the legacy of U2 lives on). Singer sounded like Thom Yorke, but the songs weren’t very interesting (no fake plastic watering cans).

I hadn’t showered or changed my boxers that day. Guess who was drearier, my boxers or Japan Review? Nailed it.

Next up: Shattercones. They promised a unique and (potentially) unhinged performance. I can now confirm that no, fiddles do not make performances unique or unhinged. Vocals like Johnny Cash come that posh guy with the double-barrel surname from the Vaccines, but those mid-western vibes might have just been inspired by the attire; they looked like they’d walked off the set of a high-school production of Stranger Things

And now to Fake Turins.

Fake Turins
Sound checks aren’t any good without a bit of poetry (bleugh). Fake Turins @ 26 Leake Street

I’d held out one hell of a lotta hope for Fake Turins.

I mean, they were meant to be “Hard-Fi beats overlayed with poetry inspired by William Burroughs carrying the modern cynicism and irony of David Foster Wallace.

Can you imagine?

Oh wait, you probably can’t.

I’ll help you.

Imagine that song, Living for the Weekend. Now surgically remove the vocals.

Ok good.

Now, I know this one’s difficult, but what do David Foster Wallace and William Burroughs have in common? The former is ‘iron-ic’, the latter shot his wife in the head during a drunken parlour game and then let his friends abuse his son.

Go on, I know you read.

That’s it!

What they have in common is the throbbing (imagined) iron of Naked Lunch’s Steely Dan III: a rubber dildo used to penetrate the dead body of a hanged man.

So Fake Turins were going to play Hard Fi’s Living for the Weekend and read that scene about Steely Dan III from Naked Lunch.

BOLD.

Oh wait, they didn’t.

Actually, they sounded alright. But after so much boasting, they weren’t able to live up to the hype.

The music wasn’t interesting, inspired, or even that different.

It was just a lot of people playing a load of instruments (including bongo drums) and two guys wailing over them cryptically.

The highlight was that Charlie came.

Charlie, don’t worry, the beers are for the bands, not you.

Fake Turins: Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.

Three_Beers

THREE BEERS

MUSIC REVIEW: The Dirty Nil @ Boston Music Room, London

The Dirty Nil played Boston Music Room on Friday, 28 September 2018. 

I went along. Here’s how it was:

The Dirty Nil, Winter Passing & Weatherstate @ Boston Music Room, London

Friday, 28 September 2019

Guitars, sequin, sparkles and a whole lot of men.

For those who don’t care enough to look them up, the Dirty Nil are a three piece ‘rock’n’roll’ band from Ontario, Canada. They won a Juno last year (2017) which I presume is the Canadian equivalent to America’s loftiest honour: the MTV Award. I think the recognition was for their exceptional cover of B. A. Johnston’s ‘My Heart is Broken like an Old Nintendo’.

Why did I go? I don’t know.

To the gig: 

The venue was at half capacity, awash with Less than Jake t-shirts, chequered sweatbands and fringes that weren’t even cool when the Black Parade was playing on Kerrang!. Very male.

Weatherstate were the first support. They put in a good performance but somehow managed to come across as a more English looking but American sounding version of Feeder. I’m sure they’ve tried covering Buck Rogers by replacing all references to Jaguars with Corvettes. Cliche choruses ranging from ‘Smell the Coffee’ and ‘Lately you’ve been lying low’. 

Second support The Winter Passing were folky and correspondingly lacklustre. Tried and failed at getting the crowd going. Might have worked in a different context, but wasn’t right for the night. Sadly PA system received more applause when Code Orange’s, Bleeding the blur came on.

The Dirty Nil announced their arrival with a type of (I don’t say certain) style. Front man, Luke Bentham was attired in a racy black cowboy shirt peppered with sequins and set off with a snarl. Real dandy.

The band were competent and played well to the crowd. For a three-piece in a small venue the show was surprisingly bombastic, verging on crazy theatrical. Exactly what displays of ‘rock’n’roll’ should be.

Distilled: it was eighty percent power chords, fifteen percent self-aware curls of the upper lip with a remaining five percent ‘feeling of loss at the worryingly social-misfit-esque vibe of the crowd’.

They delivered an impressively meaty set focused on their latest LP Master Volume – so more pop punk than the abrasive outbursts of Higher Power, but the crowd were into it. Managed to keep up momentum despite the intensity of the first forty minutes.

Highlights included a high octane delivery of Bathed in light, a return to 2011’s Fuckin’ up young, a not so harrowing Evil side and a good closer with Bury me at the rodeo.

The Dirty Nil play a certain type of rock music. In this context rock and pomp managed to go comfortably hand-in-hand without inspiring winces. But it’s a fine line. Whether you like their current direction or not there’s no doubt that they play well and deliver more than their records ever could live.

Solid gig.

Set list: That’s what heaven feels like, Bathed in light, Pain of infinity, Cinnamon, No weaknesses, Zombie eyed, Always high, Fuckin’ up young, Auf weidersehen, Smoking is magic, Friends in sky, I don’t want that phone call, Know your rodent, Big Star’s – September Gurls, Wrestle yü to Hüsker Dü, Evil side, Metallica’s – Hit the lights and Bury me at the rodeo