This time it’s personal. Not really, I just wanted a good dramatic opening. So despite trying really hard I couldn’t get to the Custard Factory before 7:30 ish so I missed a bunch of people some of whom were probably very good. I intend to make up for that error by writing with such energy and focus that I will literally set fire to your eyes.
On arrival I caught a bit of Antilles who seemed an inviting prospect, but I foolishly went against my instincts and thought “I’ll get out of my comfort zone” and had a wander about. It was only while I was wandering that I realized that Antilles rang a bell. If I remember rightly that was the new incarnation of Chronicles of Adam West, one of the first albums I reviewed and one I enjoyed a lot. I could check all of my facts on the internet but then I might not have all of this stuff I’ve just written so I’m not going to. So I’ve managed to be late and miss a band I probably really wanted to see. Go me. One good thing though was my unnatural roving instinct bought me to one of the venues that wasn’t open on the Friday and so I happened across Kogumaza. I was supposed to see Kogumaza with Enablers and Backwards a few weeks ago, but I went bowling instead because I’m an idiot. They were a guitarist and bassist with a weird drum set up. I couldn’t see but it seemed like kettle drums or timpani or something. Anyway they got going and were doing the long run up thing that clever bands like to do but one of the guitars was a bit broken and was fuzzing out so they had to stop and replace that at the end of the song. It seemed to break their stride a bit and it took a while for their ponderous space-rock shoegaze thing to really get going. I never really got into it but I suspect that they’re probably pretty good when not plagued with sound issues.
I had half an hour to kill before one of my personal little thrills Backwards came on, so I thought rather than get immersed in Wolves In The Throne Room and then get annoyed about leaving, I would take a look at experimental participatory bleep freaks Lucky Dragons. The first thing to note was that they were set up on the floor facing each other across a set of laptops and wires and such. The second is that they were very serious. I quite enjoyed the delicate ping pong sounds they were making with their weird set up, it was very gentle and when she added some vocals it was all very pretty. Personally I thought it went on a little and got a little bit whalesong but they scrunched it down into a bass blur eventually and bought out their piece de resistance. I hadn’t paid any attention to the other end of the table they were on, but when they moved to it and started moving a mat with lines about I realised it was some weird instrument. It interacted with a light source above it and frequencies shifted and oscillated according to what was being done. This is when they started getting people involved, moving the mat collaboratively to mess with the sound like a sonic séance. All very Star Trek but I took the opportunity to step back a bit. If they’d put me on it I would have scrunched it into a ball or set fire to it or something because I’m either edgy or an idiot. I haven’t decided yet. My issue with visual / sound interfaces (there have been a few over the years) is that they look very exciting but are quite limited and this was the case here. A bass fuzz that occasionally changed tone is alright but I had more pressing issues so fucked off.
My need to see Backwards took me back to the Old Library venue, which was turning into my venue of choice. Recent drama (broken bones) had meant it wasn’t guaranteed that they’d play so I was very happy to see them appear. They’ve gained a saxophonist since the last time I saw them but it was meant to be two. Duelling saxophones would have been awesome but never mind. They kicked off with the frontman winding himself up to some imposing feedback, flexing and gurning and grinning maniacally, almost taunting the audience. Roaring through a distorted mic over grinding bass with tweets and honks from the sax, Backwards are savage but not so confrontational that they forget to give the audience something to move to and it isn’t long before head are nodding. They played a couple of the songs I heard from the first gig (they haven’t got an album out …. yet) and they sounded great with the saxophone being a tasty addition. They also pulled out a couple of new things, one of which was a great fucking behemoth of a tune. Like Queen’s “We Will Rock You” but with all goodness and light replaced with nihilistic hate and played on broken, burning instruments. I was so impressed with this that it took me a minute to realise that Biff the vocalist had started rubbing himself up on stage. Along with the spitting and biting himself and all the other psychotic muscleman activities, he had his hand down his trousers and was lasciviously leering at us while rubbing one out. I laughed like a drain. This guy is a natural and the band takes away all the posing and pretentiousness leaving behind no image just pure will.
I now had a great gaping hole in my schedule till Zombi were on. I went to the main stage where Electric Wizard were tuning up. The bloke was wearing a big ankh round his neck and shouting about “pyramids on the martian sun”. I don’t think you can build anything on the sun and more importantly the Martian sun is our one too, so on the basis that their roadie (or possibly singer) was factually bereft I ruled them out of my options. I also think Electric Wizard is one of the worst names for a band I’ve ever heard unless you’re aiming to support Spinal Tap. So it was either Pharoah Overlord or Klaus Kinski. I knew nothing about either of them and so I decided, purely on the basis that I like the Old Library venue better, to go and see Klaus Kinski.
Holy Fucking Shit.
So a bunch of blokes wearing shorts turn up on stage. I was initially skeptical. Shorts ? At this time of year ? I suppressed my worries at inappropriate clothing choices and waited for them to get on with whatever hipster rubbish it was going to be. I was imagining some sort of Animal Collective-y stuff, they sound like a band that wear shorts. I realized I was a bit off the mark when they began their warm up exercise thing. The band huddled and started battering their instruments in a pure percussive rage. Shrieking atonal guitars and an extra set of toms were a preliminary warning of an hour of pure mental. I don’t think they actually played any notes. The guitarists were all busy doing high kicks and bashing into each other, running their hands up and down the frets as fast as the could while the drummer went absolutely fucking batshit. But this wasn’t chaos because they were spot on. This was organized audio destruction. Who gives a shit about songs when you can just purvey pure energy. I think I was about ten minutes in before I realised that this is obviously a band who are out on day release. The closest I got to an actual observation was that they were a bit like the Fall but if the Fall were fed a diet of PCP and violence. The vocalist had Tourette’s, blurting random things and making noises in the short gaps between the “songs”. One of the guitarists had a high kicking action going on and then all of a sudden one of the other guitarists jumped into the audience. This was a small audience and it caused maximum chaos and then something happened. Guitarist number two was in the audience with us running round and grinding his groin about like a sex offender on crack. After the vocalist shouted something about “I’m not ill I’m just fucking queer” he dashed over and kissed the stage dive guitarist who reciprocated vigorously for someone who seemed pretty shocked. The singer stripped his top off making sure we noted the weird back hair he used to keep his kidneys warm and then he decided to climb the lighting rig and hang off it. Cue some funny fucker backstage writing “Get Down You Dick” in massive letters on the backdrop before adding “Without Killing Anyone”. Security turned up when he was finally down but they lacked any real presence as they had huge bemused grins on their faces. Then there was a mosh pit with an age range of 18 to 50 odd years. Oh I forgot that for most of the last half hour of the set the shouting man with Tourette’s had blood running down his face after getting injured. I’ve never seen anything fucking like it. Klaus Kinski have gone from being “who the fuck are they” to “I need their albums, t-shirts and used pants. Now.” Just to make the point clear you need to get behind this band now because there is not a chance on earth they’re going to last long. If one or all of them isn’t dead by the end of the year I’ll be amazed and all this from a bunch of friends in a tiny North Wales village. Absolutely fucking mental.
So shell-shocked and ecstatic I wandered away from the Old Library. I knew there was no chance whatsoever of topping that and it made everything else seem a bit irrelevant. I wandered into see Skull Defekts who I’ve heard a bit about. Despite a thudding great big sound that had my chest wobbling for the whole time I couldn’t find anything to get excited about, maybe if I hadn’t just and such a phenomenal experience I would have been more interested, but I doubt it. The guitarist was annoying with annoying “banter”. They did “tribal drumming” (that and space rock seem to be a bit of a thing at the moment). If you’re not in a tribe you shouldn’t do tribal drumming. That’s my hard and fast rule especially if you’re a middle aged white bloke. That goes even more so for slinky dancing with exotic far-Eastern hand gestures. At this point I’d been stood up for like twelve hours or something so I went and mooched about in the market and ate a rather delicious Japanese curry. It’s worth mentioning that there is a bunch of other stuff to do at the Festival. Films and installations and food and stalls etc but you’d have to be a madman to go to a festival like this and then spend your time not watching bands. That’s my opinion anyway.
All of a sudden it was midnight and I wended my way to see Zombi. I love “Surface To Air” (not such a huge fan of “Cosmos”) and even though they’re just a Goblin tribute band (I’m joking) I was pretty excited about seeing them. They kicked off with huge bass sweeps, lights and smoke and were suitably dramatic with space synths and messing with arpeggiators and virtuoso drumming and epic stuff. Impossible to dance to but suitably impressive and they were even cheered up by their enthusiastic reception by the end. Miserable prog buggers. There were even people pogo-ing and throwing devils horns but I think that was drug based. So it ended and even though I’d had a bloody good time I think I peaked with Klaus Kinski so it was a tiny bit anti climatic. Day Three today. My legs hurt. I never want to go and see another band. I must go and see more bands.