Friday, May 04, 2007
Black Lips / Shy Child / The Sticks @ Cargo, 1 May 2007
Sometimes it’s good to go back to basics. Now I’m as keen as big sounds, complex instrumentation and arrangements and multi-membered bands as the next person, sometimes it’s good to strip things back a bit and enjoy music a bit less encumbered by added extras.
So down to Cargo on Tuesday night for the latest one in the ever-excellent list of events by ace London promoters Upset the Rhythm, and three bands happily working with limited resources.
First up, The Sticks. Probably the most basic of the evening. There’s only so much you can do with two snare drums, a cymbal, an electric guitar and three chords. But this Brighton duo do remarkably well with these resources. They meandered through their set of lo-fi scuzzy blues rock, and although there wasn't much variation, I never really got bored. There was enough energy, instrument swapping and fun to keep them interesting. One of the blokes drummed so hard his glasses fall off.
Download: The Sticks – 'No Vocal on Tour'
This is a low bitrate download from their myspace site. Not sure it's even the right title. Their first ever release – a split 10 inch on Upset The Rhythm Records – is out on Monday.
Next, NYC’s Shy Child have similar but different limitations – one drummer and another guy on one of these slung-over-the-shoulder keyboards (I think this is what’s called a keytar). You may think that with an electronic instrument, there would be more scope for variation, but not with Shy Child. About four songs in I realised that their repertoire wasn’t going to extend much past one song, and went to lounge on Cargo’s big comfy leather seats with my friends who were similarly unimpressed. Their stabbing synth sound is pure ‘new rave’, which although unusual for a UTR night, is quite the thing the kids are going to go for. Two years ago they’d probably be laughed out of town, but not now. My friend told me they’re going on tour with Klaxons. Says it all really.
Download: Shy Child – Technicrats
mp3 courtesy of Let's Sexy Fighting.
The main attraction though is Black Lips and their rough ‘n’ raw garage punk. Last time they were in town, their tiny gigs were all a bit of a sell-out, so this time they’re in a much bigger venue than before. And they’re great. Though maybe not quite the rock ‘n’ roll mayhem I was expecting. I’d heard all sorts of tales involving nudity and blood and the likes, but only witnessed the guitarist bizarrely spitting in the air and catching his own phlegm in his mouth. But, antics aside, it’s all very good. On the negative side, the sound was crap, there was poor bass sound, and the band sometimes lost momentum by taking too long between the short ‘n’ sweet power of each song. But let’s not quibble too much. They’re a great live band – all full of mad energy, blustering through their retro rock songs with charm as well as sweat. Somehow the rubbish sound didn’t matter too much. The gig had a suitability chaotic ending with a stage invasion and a piece of very clumsy stage diving (more like falling). Like I said before, it’s all pretty basic, but here basic = fun.
Download: Black Lips – Boomerang
Download: Black Lips – Workin’
The Black Lips most recent live album Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo isn’t actually available in the UK. You can buy it from Insound. Or, probably better, you can buy their 2005 album Let it Bloom album from Rough Trade. It has almost the same songs – except more of them.
I've got some more photos (of all three bands) on my Flickr.