Blood Red Shoes
Tiger Force and Venom SeedsEdit this event
What’s the best thing about so-called Art Rock? It’s noisy. And the worst thing? Well, it’s often little else; a plodding, opaque racket, sacrificing rhythm and melody for sheer density of sound. And it’s White – an unfunky, machine-like grind, made strictly not for dancing to, separating itself from it’s cockier cousin by eschewing its blues roots. Not so multinational London trio Venom Seeds.
When frontlady Riotmiloo, her hair in scrunchy manga-type balls, steps up to the crowd, unleashing her shrill riot grrrl yelp in the faces of the unsuspecting blokes in the front row, you all but assume the band to provide an appropriately unpleasant, abrasive din. But kimono-clad guitarist Slideling and sideburn’d drummer The Cave Man Machine are a bee’s-arse tight two-strong rhythm power house as close to the mutant funk of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion or Morphine as the full-frontal assault of Lolita Storm and Atari Teenage Riot. Venom Seeds do so much with such basic elements. Take 'Insane', for example - Slideling’s guitar sounding like it crawled out of Jack White’s sweat-drenched nightmares switches between a mangled but magnificent bottleneck riff and massive, oppressive Sonic Youth disharmonies, the brutal backbeat lurching into unrestrained, polyrhythmic clatter, yet still sounds hip-shakingly, floor-fillingly danceable: Like Captain Beefheart if he’d grown up in 25th Century Tokyo instead of the Mojave desert. Or consider Stooges-like opener 'Get Out Right Now'. The growling minor, power-chord riffs and primal rhythms are well worn staples of rock, both alternative and cock, but Venom Seeds fashion them into something clipped, sharp and savage instead of the noisy bluster most Iggy acolytes end up with. In fact The Stooges are an apt reference point: So many 4/4 rock dullards think they sound like them, but so few can pull off the trick of blending snarling punk noise with liquid funk momentum and it’s not hard to see Riotmiloo, in her fishnets, arse-hugging minidress and bondage boots, as some sort of 21st Century lady Iggy, confronting the audience with seduction and fear in equal measure. Oh, and they have a song called 'The Killer Geisha'. Still not convinced? Your mug of milky Horlicks is over there next to your Bloc Party album, you poor, frail lamb.
At first, Tiger Force seem to occupy more conventional art rock territory – a girl and boy with cheap guitars and an uppity drum machine, but right from the off, Andy Force and Helen Tiger’s urgent, panicked call and response shouting has more of hip-hop’s swaggering flow than the no-wave shrieking you might expect and they sometimes lapse into. The obligatory post-Aphex maelstrom from their electronic friend too falls away to a sort of vintage Run DMC stomp - albeit fiercly distorted, Andy abandoning his pawn-shop Strat to punch out samples. Some of the guitar riffs are pretty nifty too, a kind of sinister Wipers kind of post-surf twang crawling out of the hail of distortion and feedback. Having said that, there’s plenty of wall of noise and demented squawking stuff too, which is fine, but more what you’d expect. And I prefer it when they rap. Word.
Even after such uncompromising performances, Brighton’s Blood Red Shoes are like a shot in the head; a completely raw, unreconstructed racket that could strip paint at twenty paces. After a two-headed lesson in how primitivism and experimentalism needn’t clear the dancefloor, their boy-girl guitar and drums blues assault seems almost quaintly old-fashioned, as though we aren’t going forward, adding to the mix, but regressing, stripping away all that is superfluous to rock until only the bearest elements remain. Their Black Sabbath/White Stripes/Mudhoney cave-man blues throbs with a monolithic power, like a T-Rex slowly advancing, all the while staring you in the eye. It’s impressively brutal (a word I’ve found myself using a lot tonight) stuff, but after a while, the crawling tempos, unremitting smack of the drums and nest of hornets guitar sound make you feel as though you’re being repeatedly hit round the head with a blunt, heavy object: Enervating in the way that pain is enervating, but there’s still a sense of relief when it stops.
So, noisy is good. But noisy and fun is better. And noisy and fun and funky and scary and sexy is best of all! Go forth and make joyous noise: Hurt the ears of sissy boys in ties.
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