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- Astoria, London »
- Soulwax »
It is perhaps an un-acknowledged tradition that all wars should include a couple of armies running through Belgium, just because it has always happened. Not known for its cutting edge coolness and swingin’ music scene this country is possibly known for giving us terminaly uncool and cheesy day-glo wearing Euro-trash.
This is possibly a good thing because Soulwax are destined to be forever known as that “kooky”, “quirky” and ever so slightly “weird” five piece who appear on stage in matching late '60s, early ‘70s beige suits and kipper ties. I couldn’t imagine one of them owning a pair of jeans, let alone a pair of trainers.
“ALLRIGHT!!!!” shouts singer Stephen. “OKAY!!!!!!!” yells his brother and guitarist David. “LET’S ROCK!!!!” shouts Stephen. Stephane the bassist, Inge the keyboardist and Stefaan the drummer begin a wall of sound.
“Sceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeccchh” goes David’s guitar, giving out the sort of feedback Mogwai would kill bunny rabbits for. Stephen looks bemused. “Screeeeech –pop – screeeech – pop - screeepopscreepopscreeepop” goes the guitar cacophonously over the wall of sound as David fiddles around with the plug. Mogwai: eat your hearts out. He looks just as bemused and astonished as his brother. It seems this wasn’t supposed to happen. It’s as cool as fuck anyway, but the faulty guitar is swapped and David gets on with joining his friends and their wall of sound start.
This is the first, but not the last time David and his guitar are going to have problems. A string breaks later on, he gets so tangled up in the leads of his and his brother’s guitar whilst rolling around on stage that a roadie has to come to unplug and de-wire him.
Broken string aside this perhaps sums up Soulwax. They walk a very fine line between the ridiculous and the brilliant. They shouldn’t be so damn good; they should be a strange little novelty band. On paper Krautrock – pop – rock – metal - lullabies sounds bloody awful, in reality they make it work. And it is fucking brilliant!!
Bathed in the shimmery light from their CD - name backdrop they dance, jump and throw rock shapes at the pogoing and dancing crowd. Guitars and basses are serially swapped. Light-bulb-containing mic stands are knocked over, beat-box impersonations are given. Half way through there is an Ode to Casio (“Give it up for the Casio. All together now: C-A-S-I-O!”) along with handclaps, drum solos, and that spooky theme tune thingy you usually find played on an organ in Dracula films.
The songs are a nice mixture of ballads with full on robo – rock ones and one robo - dancey number that has Inge gyrating like one of those plastic dancing flowers.
And then they leave.
We stamp our feet.
They come back to give an encore.
They leave us a chair – guitar – lightmic art installation.
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