Halloween gifts from Russ Abattoir (censored version)
I find it hard to get to as many gigs as I’d like these days. I work from 7am to 3:30pm which isn’t really conducive to mid-week socialising, and after reviewing gigs for a few years, a good few of them being pretty dire, I think I’ve burnt myself out. Perhaps it is just utter, fat arsed laziness or the inescapable mediocrity that comes with being over 30. Anyway, this weekend I managed to drag myself out to not one but two gigs as it was the last regular Gentle Invasion on Friday, and an antifolk spectacular put on by the “mysterious” Wh666 on Sunday.
The Gentle Invasion gig was a perfect event for Halloween. Fancy dress was optional thankfully as my girlfriend Mel and I were without inspiration mainly due to a lack of time to get anything sorted out. I picked up two sets of glow in the dark vampire teeth from Tesco (for 3p each, yes I am a cheap bastard) alas they were child-sized and particularly uncomfortable, and I ill-advisedly cut them with scissors rendering them useless. Thankfully though others were more imaginative/adventurous. Best outfit of the night had to go to the girl who had a picture frame on her head, with her face appearing though a print of Munch’s The Scream. The bloke in the Where’s Wally/Waldo costume was amusing too.
Actually both Mel and I did end up taking turns wearing a Russ Abbot face mask, as Newcastle band Russ Abattoir were handing them out (as well as wearing them themselves). They also threw a bag of gruesome porn cuttings and balloons onto the floor and made a godawful noise involving a plastic pig (at least I hope it was plastic!), culminating in one of them wearing a tin bucket over his head and the other one using his head as a drum. Highly entertaining!
Glasgow’s If You Lived Here You’d be Home By Now consist of two delightful ladies dressed up in Yvonne De Carlo (aka Lily Munster) stylegarb, one on vocals/keyboards and the other on an uniquely shaped cello. I really enjoyed their set and with songs like “Dead Boyfriend” it was just the right kind of morbid humour and spookiness for such an evening. I bought their CD-R so am looking forward to having a proper listen to that.
Finally we got a unique post-rock horror film soundtrack from headliners Our Ladies of Sorrow (a sortasupergroup of local musicians who only play once a year for Halloween, I believe). They let a video screen take centre stage as we were subjected to many gruesome murder and torture scenes from a variety of obscure horror films – I’m not sure what most of them were I have to admit but believe me they made the average Hammer Horror look like an episode of Balamory. It was good to see Bart of Eagleowl rocking out on guitar and the brass instruments made some Sun Ra style screeches and oddly human screams which perfectly accompanied the visual onslaught. They got a fantastic reaction to their short set with Bart admitting “We would have written more songs but we only rehearse once a year too”.
Luckily there are decent new promoters popping up all the time in Edinburgh these days, and Wh666 are on a mission to bring antifolk to Scotland in a big way, with New York City’s Major Matt Mason USA appearing on Sunday night upstairs at the Forest. These new promoters are being described as “mysterious” all over the place so who am I to spoil the mystery, all I’ll say is that Dan did a really good job in getting this gig together but if the one word that springs to mind when you mention antifolk is “shambolic” then this certainly fitted the bill – but in a good way!
They really could have done with a decent soundman however all that could be seen was a Charlie Chaplin-esque figure who did a bit of random knob-twiddling and then retired to his ringside seat despite none of the sound problems being sorted. It didn’t seem to phase Les Enfant Bastard though who seems to thrive on a bit of mayhem. He was joined by Withered Hand and one other, and I really enjoyed his set especially the Twix song, and thoroughly recommend you get hold of his new album ‘Apple Tits for Destruction’ immediately (though you’ll have to write to him and send him presents in order to get it).
Next up Withered Hand was joined by Neil Pennycook (that bloke from Meursault), who’s powerful backing vocals really do complement the helium-voiced one. I’m still in awe at the lyrics and general brilliance of I Am Nothing, Religious Songs and most of the other songs from his current EP especially for the lyrics, truly brilliant stuff which gets better every time I hear it and I seem to remember I was singing along quite enthusiastically after having drunk my cans of beer with equal enthusiasm.
Major Matt, the founder of Olive Juice Music and one of the major figures of the NY antifolk scene has a stoic, deadpan type of persona, and his performance style fits in with this, being unshowy and understated. He seemed truly glad to be playing for us, saying “this is one of the coolest venues I’ve played in for a while”.
He has some astounding lyrics and he read out a poem he had written that day, something he said he had done throughout the tour, only reading out each poem that one day he wrote it. It was really quite moving it was so personal and honest, he talked about Native Americans at one point, and right enough he had those pigtail thingys like what they wear, so perhaps that is his heritage as he did look a little like the big cuddly guy in Northern Exposure. He also seemed sad that his tour was drawing to a close. He also professed his liking for Kiss which Lach also did when he played Glasgow a while back. I don’t think UK folk really relate as much to their love for that particular group or perhaps I wasn’t in the right age group? Then again we had our own ridiculously fun rock band with Queen! And now I’m rambling so shall leave it there.
in the meantime, look out for the next Wh666 antifolk special on Friday 28 November at Henrys Cellar Bar in Edinburgh, featuring Stanley Brinks, Ish Marquez, Withered Hand, plus a very special guest (I’m sworn to secrecy on who it is but believe me when I say IT WILL BE SOMEONE REALLY GOOD)