Gerry Hectic

17:18 22nd May 2005

Why do London's Test Icicles decide to come on and wind the crowd up with shouts of “Wake up Ports-Mouth” in a put-on American accent?  It gets the negative reaction it deserves. Gigwise was here when Bright Eyes foolishly moaned about the quality of the fish and chips in the town and Oberst got a verbal battering for that. So with that poor judgement (which they repeat throughout their set) they proceeded to NOISE their way on. The trio interchange two guitars and vocals between themselves and aided by a drum machine/backing tape and a Korg synth have an appearance as anarchic as their sound. These kids could be the mutant offspring of De La Soul and The Beastie Boys, Richard Hell and The Voidoids, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, Television and no doubt many more.  Screamed lyrics and trashy guitars finally give way towards the end where one song has clearly been discofied and their last one is a free-jazz metal feedback hip hop thing (which is their best); most of the crowd are laughing by now.

If there were a missing link between Test Icicles and DFA1979, Metric would be it. They first found their feet as part of the New York retro-art rock scene, apparently sharing a house with The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Liars in Brooklyn’s now trendy Williamsburg district. There's no similar area in Portsmouth as far as Gigwise is aware but that doesn’t stop them impressively winning over the crowd. They hammer into their first tune with some keyboard feedback noise before getting into ‘Succexy’ and then crowd pleaser and debut single, ‘Compact Baby’, which sounds closer to early Blondie than, say, Patti Smith. Former art student and lead singer Emily Haines is certainly no Debbie Harry but she’s got a strong personality and strange robotic body pop dance style.  This gets transformed into a pixie running on the spot dance when she’s playing her keyboard. Whilst still electro-popist, the live act is much stronger than on record. Respect to the sound engineers as Josh Winstead’s bass is impressively thundering and sticksman Joules Scott-Key clearly outperforms any drum-machine box. You can hear the 'Blue Monday' influences on next single ‘Dead Disco’ (any song with the line “Tits Out, Pants Down” sounds good to us!) which contains the riff from The Cure’s ‘The Forest’ getting a Studio 54 remix, it’s a catchy pop tune with the ironic lyrics of “Dead Disco, Dead Funk, Dead Rock ’n’ Roll, Remodel, Everything has been done, La la la la la la la la la la”.

Talking of which, so Punk-Metal-Rock-Funk is in? Something got the Disco girls out tonight and it wasn’t Death From Above 1979’s threat of a Robbie Williams’ cover. DFA1979 are a duo of Canadians: Sebastien Grainger on vocals and drums and Jesse F Keeler on bass and synth The bass is fuzzed up like a lead guitar with the often Plant-like vocals (of the Robert variety) of Sebastien with a Geezer of a Butler backing him over some funky disco drum machine.  It’s surprising they’ve been booked to play this fairly small venue, as their album, ‘You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine’ got top reviews. Don’t let the cover put you off either (what is that elephant trunk nose thing all about?).  By the way, the second CD on the ‘Special Edition’ includes the videos and remixes, including one from influential DJ Erol Alkan. I’d go and see them again even if my ears haven’t stopped hurting. Boogie time!