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- ¡Forward Russia! »
I'm here, wedged in the trucker-capped and underage Leeds counterculture, accompanied by none other than musical genius and video director Johnny White. Man, we look good tonight. Even the bar staff want to share our cookies and tobacco. Man, we look good. Into the arena we stride.
A band called Pray For Hayden are besmirching the stage. They sound the eternal support band; "the band before the bands", according to Johnny White. I guess he's always the analyst. The band partially blitzkrieg through some Emo-hardcore-by-numbers, with absolute emotional commitment but an apparent lack of fluency in style and song-writing. Plenty of screaming, the jigsaw pieces are all on show, they still sound like a junior version of something louder and more invigorating. With a raised eyebrow, Johnny White makes his excuses and heads to the bar. I follow, my heart-rate remaining the same as when I arrived, drab drab.
Within minutes, we're back in front of the stage, anticipating the arrival of !Forward, Russia!. It soon becomes apparent that I would have waited in front of that stage for an era if I knew what was going to hit me. It was dishevelled and grimy and spooky and beautiful.
From the off, the four members of !Forward, Russia! rip against each other; fractured and percussive guitar stabs are cradled by the most pounding rhythm section imaginable. It's liquid dance in punk masquerade. They are the spiked ball on the end of a giant mace, but sharpened sharper than razors. The singer spazzes out relentlessly, hypnotically, voice never waning as he wails and hollers. A mega-quick banshee, a perfect frontman. My sobriety is irrelevant, I'm fucked on music and stomping my feet.
To try and relate, this is cut from the same mould as other Leeds exports Gang Of Four, but it's much more splintered, upbeat and frenetic. There's so much space to get lost in, but it's all happening so so fast! The occasional splashes of monosynth (sparingly used, like special moments to be revelled in) provide enticing melodic tributes to the Cure or the Smiths, but they are never over-embellished or too blatant, instead just complementing the music perfectly and providing a little more uplift.
The screwdrivered time signatures are always jarring, jarring - there are fragments of a million different songs compressed into incredible three-minute awesome soundbites; every one is like a compilation of highlights, never a let-down. And before you have time to understand it, it's all over. As the set crashes to an all-too-soon end, Johnny White's feet still tap and bounce, while I find myself offering up deafening and juvenile whoops towards the P.A. speakers. How rad was that...?
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