Now that Coldplay appreciation week has officially ended on Londonist and we're up ironing our plaid shirts in readiness for tonight's Dinosaur Jr gig at the Forum, there's just time to quickly mention a few other shows that have passed through town recently. And in doing so we might hopefully find an answer as to how we came to be staring at a heavily tattoed black man in his underpants moaning softly to himself.
Teenage Fanclub rolled into town Wednesday gone at the Astoria in support of Londonist loved latest long player, Man Made. Which they proceed to play in it's entirety. Well that sure saves having to remember any song titles and it does help the hecklers get it right when shout out what to play next. This is followed with a greatest hits set played in chronologically reverse order starting with I Need Direction off Howdy and finishing with everything Flows from debut A Catholic Education. The result of which which is that although tonight starts off pretty slowly it just gets better and better. It takes the band a couple of songs to hit their flow and as they do you can feel the change in the air. The harmonies start flowing, the band loosen up, and suddenly it's a party down here; albeit a very polite one where the hosts shuffle gently rather than jump up and down like the proto punks they once were. The boys amble about swapping melodies whilst knocking off a string of sunshine West Coast pop hits with unerring ease. Sparky's Dream especially, still one of the greatest pop tunes ever written (FACT), leaves you with a smile that could split rocks. No one is rewriting musical history tonight; Teenage Fanclub are as solid, as dependable and as beautiful as ever. And some days that's all you need and it's a pleasure to walk out in to the stench with a heart full of joy and a head full of hapiness.
Which is a far cry from the shellshocked stagger that carried us out of The Bull And Gate the night before.
Picture © Southern Records
After much cajolling Londonist decided it was finally time to catch up with the Mighty Todd. Well it's just Todd but any band who make you feel as if the USAF have just dropped a daisy cutter on your head are legally obliged to have their name prefaced with Mighty.
Mr Craig Clouse stands stage front looking all the hulking gentle giant, blonde bedragggled hair and beard, until he starts growling like James Hetfield's evil unkle and starts to play brain crushing noisecore at deafening volume - ably abetted by Messrs John Webb (guitar), Frances Axehandle (Drums), and the demure but dirty mouthed Ms Fifi Cernosek on mini micro keyboard type thing. We're convinced they use slides on Captain Vinegar in order to play even faster than is truly necessary for any living human being. It's sheer brute fury, a relentless blast of noise disguising all manner of tasty riffs and runs and it's quite magnificent, full on hardcore. It makes Slayer sound like Keane. You can't make out the words but you KNOW they're not about love and daisies. There's nothing less than 100% intensity from any of them which creates a show that you do quite literally feel in your bones. It's over in all of half an hour with Craig straddling whom we believe to be famed Nirvana photographer Steve Gullick, in what from where we're standing looks like some demented Norse sacrifice involving guitars. The whole experience is like standing naked whilst being repeatedly hit with a wrecking ball. It is of course, thoroughly recommended. They're off to record a new album over the summer but we'll let you know when they're back.
Finding we're still too stunned to head for the station we stick around to catch Oxbow. We knew nothing of Oxbow other than a worrying rumour of nudity but the guy from Interpol (well he looked like the guy from Interpol) is playing some empassioned punk country riffs on an acoustic and it seemed like a grateful respite from the aural decimation we'd just received. What we hadn't counted on was mainman Eugene. Eugene proceeds to scare the living crap out of us. It's not with the hint of pure unbridled insanity in his eyes. Or the way he mutters softly to himself, or sings in a sweet southern gospel soul before letting the anger of the Gods loose in a bowl emptying, blood curdling scream. No, it's the way he's slowly removing all his clothes. The moment he's sitting in his smalls centre stage, rocking backwards and forwards, moaning to himself, a suggestion is made that perhaps it's time to get out of Dodge. If the previous has in any way made you think, though, that this is not a great show then you're wrong. It's utterly memerising, a real knife edge atmosphere, and a very palpable threat of danger (an aspect that they share with the Clouse Clan). It's just that we're fragile enough as it is and we need our last dregs of sanity to get us back to the tube.
We can honestly say that we've seen nothing like tonight's show, which is a good and bad thing on so many levels. So we're not expecting many of you, hardly any even, to rush out and track either Todd or Oxbow down tomorrow. But if you enjoy playing 'chicken' with your ear drums and Russian Roulette with your sanity, and losing, then we suggest you make a concerted effort to check both of them out next time they're in town.