Nail the Cross festival
Archie Bronson Outfit, These New Puritans, S.C.U.M, and MicachuEdit this event
It always comes down to physics, doesn’t it? This lone DiS scribe would love to say that he took in every single band performing at the inaugural Nail the Cross festival, but current laws of physics make it impossible for one person to watch multiple bands in multiple venues littered across New Cross. So no matter how hard we tried, it’s best to approach this review as a singular take of an event that should rightfully be labelled a mighty success.
Wandering over to the Amersham Arms after locating our tickets, DiS heads inside for a drink and discovers post-punk types S.C.U.M. playing their prefix laden punk on stage. Clad in black with severely defined haircuts to match, the London rockers revel in their neo-goth ways with lead singer Tom treating us to another variation of the now ubiquitous Ian Curtis baritone. Poses are struck and angular motions are made, but even with the band ticking every box on the latest ‘are you fashionable?’ questionnaire, we’re still left wondering if there’s anything here to lift S.C.U.M above the role of front page filler for local style bibles.
Heading down the road to Goldsmith’s student union, DiS finds a room packed with people in search of a cheap pint before the arrival of Archie Bronson Outfit. Having played only a handful of gigs this year, the band are a revelation as they plough into new material that injects a blistering level of noise into the macho swagger of their blues fuelled rock. Completely devoid of the look at me approach that plagues so many of their younger peers, what’s witnessed on stage tonight is a brilliant performance by four men playing music out of physical necessity, and not because they’re desperately seeking their next magazine cover. The words ‘criminally underappreciated’ spring to mind as the band take their leave.
Nipping back to the Amersham, DiS walks in to take stock of These New Puritans. Having been feted by practically everyone in the early part of the year, it’s been a long trawl for the Southend foursome as they’ve travelled the world on a wave of hype and backlash. It’s an experience that would tire the most hardened of road warriors and the wear is certainly beginning to show this evening, with Jack Barnett even abandoning his signature mail shirt. On some, this might be a detriment, but oddly enough the band’s visible exhaustion adds a world-weary, defiant maturity to a sound frequently labelled as divisive. They may have more than their fare share of detractors, but tonight is proof that TNP are far more than just another haircut band with a few Fall records proudly displayed on their shelves.
Deciding to stick around the Amersham, DiS is pleasantly surprised by Bjork favourite Micachu and the Shapes. The UK has a long tradition of producing innovative pop mavericks and, based on what we see, this London native and musical ingénue looks destined to step into the role. Crafting leftfield pop with a make-shift guitar, a drummer and layers of glitchy electronics, Micachu and her band are a reminder that it’s actually possible to create pop music which walks that precarious line between accessibility and chin stroking intelligence. It’s a point only underlined when Micachu sings part of her vocals through a hoover on closer ‘Turn Me Well’.
An attempt is made to watch Benga play a set to a packed room at the student union, but with exhaustion starting to set in, DiS decides to call it quits and heads off into the night in search of the nearest minicab office and possibly a chicken burger or two along the way first.
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