Tunabunny and HorowitzEdit this event
It isn't every day you get offered a free ticket for the live spectacle that is Rammstein. But then it's also a rare occurrence for three of the best exponents of lo-fi indie pop to be thrust together under the same roof for one night only. However, this evening proves to be the exception to both rules, and after careful consideration and an afternoon's worth of soul searching, option B came out the clear winner.
Sure, there's something quite Marmite-like about a bunch of bands who's idea of nostalgia stretches no further than Live At The Witch Trials while embracing the harmonious love-in of C86 and bitchy excesses of Riot Girl at various intervals. For most there really is no kind of in-between, yet chip away at the candy coated veneer and you'll find a whole lot more going on than just honourable pastiches to those forgotten or merely remembered as the nearly-folk of their era.
Take openers Horowitz, for example. Featuring a former Rosehip in their line-up, the East Midlands based duo make simplistic pop that borders on a low budget Buzzcocks had they travelled in a time machine and been reared on the delights of the entire K Records roster. Short, sharp and straight to the point, with a dash of saccharine sweetness and light thrown in for good measure. The fact they've operated on the peripheries of the fanzine scene for the best part of a decade with barely a sentence written about them makes us want to hang our heads in shame. But not until we've spent the entire duration of their set furiously nodding in time to the music like descendants of Churchill (the dog not the politician).
Athens - that's Athens, Georgia rather than the capital of Greece - based four-piece Tunabunny are even more of an unknown quantity. In these parts at any rate. Not that it takes all and sundry long to become acquainted with a band described by legendary music critic Everett True as "the latest great thing" to come out of their hometown. Having formed four years ago intending to "destroy rock music", they've spent the ensuing years bludgeoning their way through the Stateside underground like the unruly offspring of Sleater Kinney and Beat Happening. Two albums and a handful of singles later, their mission seems to be accomplished. Openers 'Bury The Present' and '(Song For My) Solar Sister' mix the indelicacies of Le Tigre or Bratmobile with a touch of Kristin Hersh's poise and power courtesy of pocket dynamo singer Brigette Herron. Current 45 'Locusts' proves even more incisive, co-singer Mary Jane Hassell joining Herron for a bout of vocal sparring over a barrage of discordant post-punk riffs. At the end of their set a suitably impressed DiS heads to the merchandise stall and buys their entire back catalogue. Yes, that good.
Brighton collective Shrag might be veterans of the DIY scene, having first emerged almost a decade ago. Nevertheless, their incendiary, occasionally shambolic, but never dull live shows have often thrown up several talking points. Such as why haven't they attained more widespread recognition by now? While their self-titled debut album sounded like an amphetamine charged Bis paying homage to Mark E Smith, its follow up Life! Death! Prizes! revealed a band more at home creating rather than destroying infectious pop music for fun. More importantly, soon-to-be-released third long player Canines promises to be an even more incisive affair while finally making a claim to be the record which breaks them into more mainstream territories.
It's perhaps no surprise then that tonight's set draws heavily from the new record, singer Helen King displaying an even more catatonic presence than witnessed before. New single 'Tendons In The Night' ably demonstrates Shrag's current fascination with barbed wire melody in spades, while the album's title track reminds us of long-departed and sadly lamented quintet Tiger, also under-appreciated years ahead of their time. The familiar strains of 'Rabbit Kids' and 'Ghosts Before Breakfast' serve as timely reminders of Life! Death! Prizes! dissonant beauty, the latter segueing into a nihilistic 'More Than Mornings' that brings the show and the contents of the stage to an abruptly calamitous end. Afterwards the band are all smiles in the bar, mission accomplished. And why not? After all, unlike the German industrial metallers spraying their fans in foam disguised as semen from giant inflatable penises over the other side of the city, Shrag don't need to rely on gimmicks other than forty minutes worth of blood, sweat and tunes.
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