On the Rocks feels like something of a successor to the late Verge, probably something to do with those pillars and the sense that it’s probably a strip club when you’re not here watching good music. 1-2-3-4 Records isn’t a label I’m familiar with but it seems they run gigs here regularly and since they’re putting on Headless as headliners, they’ve clearly got good taste to boot.
First up are ‘No Eno’ who are four guys, three with guitars and one on drums, who do Brian Eno covers. They play just the two tracks tonight, though the first is a lengthy one, but the audience could obviously stand to hear more.
The second band are called ‘She Shimmy Rivers and and Canal’ (sic) and consist of two guitars, drums, bass, saxophone, maybe someone doing a bit of keyboard out back and a singer who dances around in front of the stage yelling and making noises in a vaguely Mark E. Smith manner. Oh and he plays some violin. The drummer stands up throughout the gig, providing backing vocals and the resulting songs are wild pieces with clever guitar sections, horns riding on top and a general sense of goodness. If you like things odd and different this is your sort of band.
‘Oki Dog’ are the evening’s most ‘conventional’ band and they still manage to capture something different and put a grin on my face. Singer Grace intersperses her singing with in-time shouts and high-pitched yelps, then between songs seems to have no trouble jabbering away to the audience. Sometimes this sort of thing can be quite annoying but she lifts my mood nicely (sample: “This song’s about the disco…because we clear it”). The songs are catchy and yes, if you’re looking for experimental and edgy stuff you might be disappointed, but to my mind these manage to be good without being obvious and hence palling quickly.
Finally ‘Headless’ take to the stage. It’s hard to describe their sound: somewhere between the art noise songs of early Sonic Youth and the grunge noise of Nirvana doing ‘Endless Nameless’. In the last year they’ve become an incredibly tight band with a very clear sound and it’s quite an experience to see them tonight. Song lyrics include lines such as ‘off with her head’ and ‘the devil made me do it’ (one of my favourites) so clearly we’re not talking the usual nonsense, and it’s usually screamed out by Chryssie before smacking her guitar around. My song of the night is fourth into the set (just after the single) with its chunky bass line and occasional heavy grunge riffage. At the end they seem almost reluctant to take up Rona’s (best sound engineer in London TM) offer of an encore, but they give us one and it’s great.
[b]EDIT:[/b] Oops, seems I compromised my journalistic integrity by making assumptions. Headless’ debut single is actually coming out on Bleached Records, sometime in November. I blame alcohol and a lack of knowledge. Err…