I’m not really used to going to bed at four in the morning and then getting up and doing loads of typing, so if this article trails off into random consonants it’s because I’m asleep and dribbling into my keyboard. Either that or the viciously caffeinated beverages I’m having to consume to stay conscious are causing me to fit. Either way, send help.
So I wandered into the dark and foreboding wind tunnel of Digbeth, Birmingham last night to get on with my weekend of delights. The bleakness of this industrial area was fittingly accompanied by the muted gargling of Slabdragger, which got louder and louder as we approached. I felt a bit sorry for a.P.A.t.T and Slabdragger as the ticket office opened at nine and the first bands were on at 9:20. By the time we got in Slabdragger had played most of their set of growling, angry doom infused metal. If it was up to me I would probably have stayed and watched them as they were whirling their hair round and I haven’t seen people do that for a while, but Daz my photographer and long suffering friend indicated that we were off to see a.P.A.t.T and sharp-ish. Apparently they were very good over the course of their set and just before we got in they had been doing some sort of Japanese acappella thing, but all we caught was 10 mins of sludged out feedback that had an interesting effect on my ears. Next up was an easy choice. Who wouldn’t go and see Drumcunt ?
Drumcunt (yes I am going to say their name a few more times) were a two piece wielding laptops, mic and knobs. For the first ten minutes I was pretty impressed, as they gave the impression that they were going somewhere epic, tweaking and playing with a simple drum loop and occasionally emitting a noise that sounded a bit like the martians in War of the Worlds. However, when we were twenty minutes in and nothing had really changed, I realized that in this crazy “less is more” world of ours this was probably all I was getting. If I was twenty and had never heard techno maybe I would have had my mind blown. Or more probably if I had spazzed out on drugs then it would have been mega awesome. But I know techno and I’m too old and fragile for drug abuse so instead of paying attention to Drumcunt I watched the frankly amazing antics of the large bald man in an Adidas tracksuit who was larging it in spectacular fashion at the front. He kept it up a lot longer than I thought he could, and considerably longer than he should have. There was an interesting moment where I thought he was trying to initiate a dance off with a distinctly unimpressed man behind him, by invading his space in an energetic way, but it never happened. Why is it they only ever happen in ones ? I’d love to watch two of these people find each other in an audience. It would be beautiful. Anyway we abandoned Drumcunt ( I won’t say their name again, promise Mum) and caught the last twenty minutes of Part Chimp. The song we walked in on sounded an awful lot like Soundgarden to me, but that was just a weird trick of acoustics because they’re not like Soundgarden but there was definitely a Seattle-esque flavour to it. I don’t know them but at the end of their set they received a rapturous …. whatever the opposite of reception is. I will give them a listen at some point.
It was turning into an evening of choices. I don’t like choice. I prefer to be told what to do but when it came to choosing between Scotch Egg and Mike Watt and The Missingmen it was an obvious shoe in for Scotch Egg. So I was a bit confused to find myself watching Mike Watt. I’ve never heard The Minutemen but I know the name (legendary proto punks) but that in no way could prepare me for the madness of the ensuing prog / jazz / hardcore / spoken word “45 minute song in 30 parts” awesomeness that followed. Mike Watt endeared himself to me instantly, firstly by being 30 years older than everyone else in the room and secondly by quite patently being a lovely, lovely man. His band were amazingly tight and they rampaged through an incredibly diverse range of styles. I was particularly envious of his guitarist who was awesomely cool throughout, although Mr.Watt’s bass playing was wildly impressive too, while the drummer finished off the recipe perfectly. The influence of Zappa and Beefheart were strong but healthy, and while neither of them inspire me to wild acts of devotion (unlike many) I will certainly be investigating further. So another time Scotch Egg.
Both Daz and I were at Supersonic for one reason. Secret Chiefs 3. If you read the site occasionally you may know that the dichotomy of Spruance and Patton form the chief tenet of my musical philosophy and I have been yearning for a Secret Chiefs 3 experience for many years now, since “First Grand Constitution and Byelaws” I have been mesmerized by this band and I have watched (listened ?) as they have gone from being a noisy, experimental and slightly sardonic inception to an all conquering force of musical apocalypse. So you can probably guess that I’m not going to be providing an un –biased review here. I started getting silly about this performance before they were even onstage, when I walked past Trey and had a bit of a mental stumble. “That was Trey” I whispered excitedly. I thought I had a reasonable level of self-respect but my brain just lurched and some dark part of my mind shouted “Offer Him Sex !”. That’s not self-respect, that’s closet groupie and it’s a bloody good job I didn’t see any of them after their stint, because it was fucking mind blowing. Set-wise it strongly resembled the “Great American Music Hall” live DVD. I have always found it impossible to memorise the song titles ( a lot of them are unpronounceable or very long) but there was a little sprinkling of everything, and a couple of songs I’ve never heard before. “Halloween” appeared and tossed the cinders of my sensibilities into a big musical dustbin and they also played my favourite SC3 song which is an incredibly aggressive, heavily Traditionalists orientated thing that they play near the end of the DVD. If they ever need a soundtrack for the end of the world Secret Chiefs are more than up to the job. I’m not sure which players were on board for this incarnation, I think there’s a good chance it was Timb Harris (violin) under the sparkly veil thing, and it may have been William Winant on drums but the only ones I could say for definite were Trey and Shazad Ismaily (the bassist). For a band to be able to play this well regardless of the constituent members is somewhat supernatural. Most bands on this Earth would sell their hands to be as good as this band and it doesn’t even have a steady lineup. The crowd absolutely fucking loved every second of their performance and the Chiefs fed on this response. There was one of those magic rare things where you get a positive feedback loop and by the end of the last song they were plainly having a fucking ball. This gig was everything I thought it would be, and if you went off to watch Cloaks and Scorn instead I’m sure you thought you made the right choice. You didn’t. I hate having to choose who to see and not for the first time I wish I had more ears. Now I’m going to find minerals and nutrition so that I can start getting excited about seeing Backwards and Zombi tonight.