Saturday, June 11, 2005

Contort Yourself

A fun night was had by all at Twisted Charm's Club Twisted night at the Buffalo Bar in Highbury last night. Unit played our second gig in the bar, one of my favourite North London venues, as part of what turned out to be a pretty top bill. We played a pretty storming, highly energetic set, including the first 'proper' performance of new song 'Take Your Hangover Crosstown' (sadly marred by some annoying techincal problems with Chris' keyboard). Otherwise, it as a back-to-basics set with minimal instrument swapping, no synth and no laptop. Our full set was:

2 C Others As They See Me
The Explorer
Listen It Out
Edge Of Town
Lovers' Mesh
Take Your Hangover Crosstown

There was a good crowd, hopefully now converted by Daniel's eager after-show promotional activities, and spirits were good. Tonight we hit Leicester Square's Marquee Club.

Also playing last night were Blah Blah Blah, a new project from Twisted Charm's Nathan Doom who played a short but sweet fifteen minute set of electro-punk. Ironic lyrics mixed with propulsive drum machine beats, some interesting non-chordal guitar playing and the odd burst of synth attack. Nathan's snarly vocals suited the music well, and this showed plenty of promise.

Next up were The Schla-La-Las, who started dreadfully, with a whole host of technical problems and bursts of rather uninspired two chord dirges. Once the problems had been resolved, however, I warmed to them considerably. Perhaps it's just because I'm a complete sucker for girl-pop, but songs like 'Are You Ready?' and 'Up For It' had cute harmonies and bucketloads of energy. Of course, the playing was decidedly sloppy (and, really, there's no need for two bass players when they both mindlessly strum the same parts), but as a punk band, it's much more about an aesthetic than intricate musicianship. In their uniform dresses, and with plenty of good humour to go round, the girls made for endearing performers. When the songs were good, the lack of musical innovation didn't really matter. One song sticks in my mind particularly - a list of foodstuffs in German followed by an hilarious chorus: 'I'm going back to Germany to stuff my face (she's going back to Germany to stuff her face)!!'. Quite brilliant. Mitch Benn and the Distractions may want to follow their wonderful parody 'Everyone Sounds Like Coldplay Now' with a sequel, 'Everyone Sounds Like The Shangri-Las Now', such is the currency of girl-pop right now. I fear, however, that The Schla-la-Las might suffer inevitable and unfavourable comparisons with the Pipettes, who are lighter, more subtle and probably better.

Then came our hosts for the evening, Twisted Charm. Musically, this was ragged but completely inspired - with Nathan's guitar processed to sound like an 80s synth and Luke's howling saxophone pitted against rudimentary but thrillingly unhinged drumming. New single 'London Scene?' is bound to gain them new attention, with its slightly barmy rhyming lyrics about teenage mums taking over the streets whilst no-one has the time (or perhaps the inclination?) to read John Keats. Ironic? Probably. Entertaining? Very much so. Nathan Doom and Luke Livid may be slight of frame, but they make for charismatic performers, completely absorbed in a riotous, energetic noise. Whilst the lyrics sometimes tend towards the simplistic, at their best Twisted Charm are relentlessly exciting. We hope to play with them again some time soon.

Headlining tonight were C-Jags, probably the most musically proficient band on the bill, with some infectious vocal harmonising and manic, technically incredible drumming. There was something missing here for the most part though - good pop songs, performed with authority and conviction, but somehow a great deal more conventional than the blast of avant-punk that came before them.

Even better were the tunes spun between the sets - James Chance and The Contortions, The Lounge Lizards messing up Thelonious Monk, Acoustic Ladyland, Sonic Youth, Royal Trux, The Specials, LCD Soundsystem - awesome!

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