Melvins Play Lysol / Eggnog

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , , , on August 16, 2013 by Noise Road

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What are Melvins doing tonight? Are they a 3 or 4 piece? How many drummers are there? Are they wielding a regular bass guitar or a stand up bass? Is Patton there? Is Adam Jones there?… If you go in blind, you will never know which face of Melvins you will catch.

Tonight is structured into 2 sets – a set of the Lysol / Eggnog tracks and a second set of the Houdini album. The Eggnog and Lysol tracks were jumbled up – perhaps to more suit the live setting, rather than the track order for listening to whilst lighting up a doob in the egg chair of your Glasgow flat.

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Melvins love covering songs… But even their relatively straight covers still have a distinctive Melvins twist on it. Even when playing their own old material, they are unable to be faithful.

The current dual drum configuration means drums are even more upfront compared to the recorded versions. The famous drone of Lysol is newly tribal with the massive drum sound. Even the quiet parts are loud. We expect to hear again sometime in the next couple of months.

It was great to see Melvins in a drastically different mode to the recent gigs that I’ve seen. In particular the frenetic guitars of Eggnog show the energy of an early Melvins configuration. Hog Leg is particularly raucous with Buzz alternating between jumping all over the guitar fret to wailing on the mic.

The almost straight up rock of With Teeth and the Ballad of Dwight Fry are crowd favourites.  With Teeth is so god damn happy and positive. How did Buzzo ever park his cynicism for 3 minutes?… And the Alice Cooper cover, Dwight Fry, brings the first sing-along of the night.

Sacrifice, the wildly unfaithful cover of the Flipper track, is once again changed. Buzz is let loose to spoken word and wail on the mic.

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It’s great to see Melvins in a wildly different mode, yet not reliving past glories. The tracks are not played safe and true to the record. They celebrate the strength of the material but are played by who the Melvins are now.

Melvins in Residence at Electric Brixton

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , , , on August 16, 2013 by Noise Road

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Brixton is that part of central London where there is always a crazy dude singing to himself on the tube ride there. Tonight was no exception.

It is a vibrant, but slightly sketchier, part of London. It is the home of one of London’s best music venues, the famous Brixton Academy. If your favourite band is any good then that’s where they recorded their live album.

Brixton is also home of tonight’s venue, Electric Brixton. Over the next 2 nights Melvins play 5 of their early to mid nineties records. This era saw major label releases, critical and commercial successes, fan favourites and a true golden period for Melvins.

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A few weeks away from summer and spring has finally sprung in the UK. Trade in your winter jacket for, well, a slightly less thick jacket, and book to Brixton for the 4 Melvins sets over 2 nights. We hope to regain partial hearing sometime before the end of summer.

Join us!

Wickerman Festival – Tune

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , , , , on August 10, 2013 by Noise Road

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Jet lagged, and half a bottle of whisky deep, Primal Scream’s sax riff from the cracking new tune, 2013, eased us into the set. Night had finally fallen. Over 10,000 new friends had appeared, and they were suitably charged and ready to jig.

Front man, Bobby Gilliespie, has a rare charisma… He’s often laid-back and softly spoken between songs, but still he manages to generate a massive response from the crowd. It felt like a huge party.

Their distinctive intersection of indie rock and rave electronica is a perfect headline for Wickerman. New songs, deep cuts of classic albums, extended jammy rock-ons and rave freak-outs had the die hards losing their shit, whilst the average punter knew every second song from radio osmosis. Swastika Eyes and, of course, Loaded had the crowd grooving, whilst Moving on Up and Get Your Rocks Off had the crowd singing and jumping. The big finish of Come Together (“My light shines on….”) energised the hordes to pack the rave tents or rekindle their dance with the buckfast back at the tent.

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Earlier in the day, Admiral Fallow impressed with their upbeat folk rock. I was particularly taken with the clever lyrics filled with euphemisms, “guest of the government”, and metaphors ,”don’t drop your anchor here”. We were wondering if that was the opposite of the old “any port in a storm”.

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The following KT Tunstall set provided an entertaining set of hits, creative loop peddling, covers and an endearingly questionable beatbox from her band mate.

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Amy MacDonald’s voice may have been a little sore this particular evening, but her intimate songwriting won nothing but love from the huge crowd… before we burned.

No matter how cool you think it is to see a giant effigy burnt, I can guarantee that it’s cooler than you think. As the wooden man fell, fireworks lit the sky.

And so the gods were pleased for another year.

Wickerman Festival – Burn

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , on August 10, 2013 by Noise Road

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A day previous to the festival, I had flown back in from Australia. After me and the whisky partied a little too hard to Primal Scream’s awesome set, a few hours kip in a tent wasn’t healing my hurts. As my mum would say “there is no sympathy for self inflicted wounds”…

My head hurt, my stomach wobbled and barely a stitch held the arse of my shorts together. That’s not a euphemism. My shorts were old and in danger of loss of structural integrity if I danced too hard or bent down too quickly…

However, amazingly summer did fall on the weekend of the Wickerman Festival. And so a few hours off the firewater, and a stroll to a rocky beach soothed my various sores.

The beach in Scotland? Sun in Scotland? There is no better place to be on a sunny day than Scotland. It just that a sunny day in Scotland only happens once in a decade. Back home in Oz, we are spoiled for sunshine… but here everyone is so happy to see the sun. The Scottish forget that they are miserable bastards, and drop everything to have fun in the sun. Its the happiest place on earth… and then the sun leaves… And the Scottish people return to playing their role in an Irvine Welsh novel. They know I love ’em.

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But here we stand, beer in hand. The sun is shining over the rolling fields of Dumfries and Galloway. The campsite is a couple minutes stroll back up the hill to our right. The stage is right in front of us, and… over the hill behind us, a giant effigy lies in wait. It waits to burn.

Wickerman Festival – The People

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags on August 10, 2013 by Noise Road

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Every year on the west coast of Scotland, towards the English border, Wickerman Festival is held. The highlight is, of course, the burning of the wicker effigy to close the festival. For the two days prior, 18,000 people pitch their tents, drink, dance and listen to some of the best acts that Britain has to offer.

As an Australian in Scotland, a stranger in a strange land, usually I attend these festivals by myself and spend my days and evenings bouncing between stages and tents. The music is everything. Wickerman Festival was different. I was lucky enough to attend with my flatmate, his sister and seven of her friends. The communal experience of sharing drinks and laughs was as big a part as the music. I’ve travelled reasonably widely, and I have found no wittier people than those of the west of Scotland.

Large groups, especially if they do not entirely consisting of stinking dudes, attract neighbours and passers… and so, we met lots of Scottish characters. We heard the owner of an inflatable dolphin, named Shep, calling from his sleeping bag to his lost pet at 3am in the morning. “Shep! SHEEEEEEP!” on one side… and on the other side we saw the effects of punters guzzling down buckfast, or as the locals call it “wreck-the-hoose-joose”.

How will we all feel in the morning?

The Wicker Man

Posted in Gigs, Travel on August 10, 2013 by Noise Road

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The sun shines on Scotland for 2 days every decade. Due to the lack of anything resembling a summer, the fields of Scotland are unable to grow any crops.

And so many moons ago, the Scots were left with a choice – either move south to England, or turn to dark pagan ritual. The Scots chose eternal damnation in the rings of hell rather than a lifetime with the English.

Every year, during what the pagan Scots smirkingly call summer, a giant man made out of Wicker is constructed. Inside this structure, the locals place live goats, sheep, cows, chickens and, of course, a Christian or a policeman. The Wicker Man is then set ablaze, sacrificing the animals and Christian, whilst all celebrate in song and dance. If the gods are so pleased with the sacrifice, Scotland is able to produce crops for another year.

The 1973 documentary, The Wickerman, captured the annual event.

I know. I share your unease with this dark pagan ritual. Burning Christians and cops is one thing, but goats have feelings and character… I guess its for the greater good. The greater good.

This year, I headed to the Wickerman Festival to investigate further. Let’s check it out.

Ash Bohrer / Godflesh / Asphyx at Roadburn 2013

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , , , , , on May 12, 2013 by Noise Road

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Ash Bohrer were suitably grating to some that the guy in front of me had fingers in ears. That gear brings a smile to my face.

I am a big Wolves in the Throne Room fan, but it wasn’t until their last show in London that they sold me live. I have a preference for dynamics in black metal. There is another school that say the continual blast of black metal lulls you into a trance. Neurosis lull me into a trance. Non-stop 16th notes don’t.

Ash Bohrer DO have enough going on, working the nihilistic side of black metal rather than Wolves’ spiritual side. I was sorry that I couldn’t give them more of a chance – but Justin Broadrick and I have to continue our uneasy dance

Godflesh Plays Pure Album
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It took me a long time, but I have grown to absolutely love Jesu’s first couple of albums and much of the Godflesh discography. However, I am not sure about the hip hop beats of the Pure album.

The Streetcleaner performance from a couple years ago was always going to be a hard act to top. I did enjoy when Godflesh locked into the machine beats. The set definitely moved towards my tastes with the growing ambience at the close of the set.

Broadrick sets are always worth your attendance. If he isn’t flooring you with Streetcleaner or Silver, there’s challenging music. Even his trainwrecks, where all his equipment falls over, is worthy of the spectacle.

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Asphyx closed my Roadburn 2013 with their stomping, death-metal bludgeon. The frontman effortlessly transitioned from a thick cockney accent to Dutch and back again.

By the close of their set, I was exhausted. Another cold night in a field outside of Tilburg, and I was back on a train to Schipol airport.

Roadburn Festival continues to grow every year, putting distance between it and ANY other festival ANYWHERE in the world.