The Domino State
White Noise Sound and The MedicineEdit this event
Equally derided by London gig goers and promoters for its supposedly inferior sound system and stringent door policy (I didn't see anyone get ID'd once for the record), Notting Hill Arts Club may not attract the same level of nostalgic bliss as Hammersmith Palais or Camden's Electric Ballroom but their Saturday matinee shows really are a blessing. Particularly on a cold and windy day in October, when one can find little else of interest in the capital city.
Today's event, hosted by Northern Star Records to launch their excellent Psychedelica 4 compilation throws together three diverse acts of varying styles and influences yet despite the obvious differences, there's a strong sense of unification between one and all. Take the opening act for example, Blackpool four-piece The Medicine. Taking references from both the Pebbles and Nuggets compilations of obscure 1960s garage bands combined with a fondness for simplistic melodies in the style of The Las or The Coral, their offbeat pop is an incisive starting point to the afternoon's proceedings. What's more, in frontman Adam Stewart, they possess a walking talking occasional breakdancing machine whose outlandish dance manoeuvres during their closing number leave the room transfixed.
Experimental psychedelic rockers White Noise Sound test the venue's sound system to the maximum, not to mention embark on a lavish array of Brian Jonestown-meets-Spacemen 3 drone soundscapes that threaten to deafen the Portobello Road tourists half a mile away. What's most refreshing about their set is the effortless way they can change from shoegaze tinged ephemera ('Sunset') to fast paced pomp rock like a methodone crazed Stones ('Blood') in an instant. What's more, they carry the mantle of more is...MORE to its utter extreme, employing no less than three guitarists in their six-strong line-up. While the trip back to their hometown of Swansea after may not have been one for the fainthearted, one can be sure there will have been more than a few Cheshire cat smiles beaming away in their splitter van as it drove up the M4 later that evening.
For East London six-piece The Domino State, one can't help thinking that it really is a case of now or never if they're ever going to emerge from being anything other than an under-appreciated niche cult band. They have the songs in abundance, mixing well-honed guitar eccentricities with stadium sized anthems aplenty, while vocalist Matt Forder remains a captivating presence throughout their forty minute set. Bizarrely much more inclined to sell out venues five times the size of this in Germany than anywhere in the UK, it really is difficult to comprehend how their self-released long player Uneasy Lies The Crown has managed to evade column inches in many a publication, particularly with such a dearth in homegrown guitar-based talent at this moment in time. 'What's The Question?' and 'We Must Not Shut Ourselves Away' sound like the songs U2 could have written had they not gradually disappeared up several faeces encaved back passages many moons ago, while the seismic pallor of 'Firefly' coupled with 'This Oubliette''s errant desolation touch a similar nerve on the back of the neck to Elbow at their most vulnerable.
Of course when all's said and done its all relative, and in these download culture times of 360 degree deals and very little else, maybe The Domino State's carefree rather than calculated approach is the way forward after all. Certainly as far as the 150 or so punters packed into the Arts Club like sardines are concerned, they're blatantly doing something right, and when the venue calls time on the band at the end of the set prohibiting an encore, each band member finds themselves duly mobbed for a good hour or so after. But that's rock and roll for you I guess...a funny old business.