Expecting a full-on onslaught of teutonic terror, Big Joanâ€™s lo-fi opener â€˜The Way it Worksâ€™, with itâ€™s bare, stark vocals over snare drum, is a surprise. There is more to this immensely popular band than just aural assault; they have a strategy to go with their huge armoury of riffs, rawk and rage. Once theyâ€™ve pried open the audiencesâ€™ ears, they donâ€™t hold back from filing them for long though. The bouncy bass of â€˜Here to Helpâ€™ is a veritable wake up call, an invocation to (post-)rock, as are the storming screams of guitar strings under stress at the end of the line â€œand then he says what he always says, that heâ€™s here to help.â€ If youâ€™d attempted to restrain you head from continuing in its instinctive downward motion at that moment you would have needed a neck brace. As a front woman Annette is driven and determined; if the boys get to have their fun bashing the hell out of their instruments, then she is damn well going to get in on the act, manically drumming on a metal dustbin, pounding out counter-rhythms on her mic stand or muttering menacingly into a telephone. She can sing as well as roar, as she demonstrates on 'Tiger', and by the time Simonâ€™s bass amp caves and collapses under the strain of so much low end on 'Suckers' she well and truly has us. Anywhere she wants us.
Ivory Springer. Three men singing shouty shanties about the Sea and Time Travel: â€œHe travelled forward to the year 2043 to withdraw some money he deposited in 1946. He wanted to spend it on a girl he'd met in 1612 but her parents burnt him for being a witch.â€ It is impossible to express in words how good they are. There are mp3s (sadly not of said, fuzz heavy, glorious tune â€˜Time Travel for Beginnersâ€™ on their website which I suggest you check out as soon as possible. Their musicianship is unbelievable, their dedication total, their intensity unmatched. They donâ€™t wear flash clothes. They donâ€™t swap instruments, or use funny gadgets, or crack jokes. They really donâ€™t need to as the music really can speak for itself. They have a list of press cuttings a mile on their site; I could say it all just as eloquently but Iâ€™d just be repeating what is already written, namely: Ivory Springer are the best band you donâ€™t yet know.
Chikinki, for those who have not had the bowel moving pleasure, are the dirtiest, filthiest, electro rock one could reasonably hope for. Suck on that CLOR! Eat this Hot Chip! The artery clogging, lipid soaked synth is heart stopping, greasier than a trucker pitched head first into a deep fat fryer. Lead Rupert looks like he may have just climbed out of one, so pent up and edgy is he. The man is clearly too big for body, their sound far too big for their meagre mini keyboards. The urgent du, du, der bass on new single â€˜Timeâ€™ threatens to do serious structural damage, while the rake at the front exuding sex and confidence is threatening serious self damage the way he moves around that stage. Things get a bit more innocent with the fisher price refrain and pong keys of â€˜All Eyesâ€™. Here, as throughout their set, the dynamics are superb, cutting away then soaring high again as advert riffs pump out to a pounding back line. â€˜Assainator 13â€™ opens with chopped and grated guitar sprinkled over a persuasive, jump around electro-funk explosion. God theyâ€™re having fun, the guitarist catwalking down the front of the stage and his solo cakewalks the audience. By the time the 60â€™s sci-fi film intro of â€˜To Suffer As a Childâ€™ rings out we are utterly captivated, as hideous kick beats smack the shit out of dainty jangles, and the final drum and bass denouement see Rupert beating the skin off a sound pad. Great visuals; sadly I had to save some shots for the headliners.
A tic-toc rim shot precipitates a stage invasion by Do Me Bad Things, all 9 of them. There is a darkness to their soul-review, and a great â€˜more is moreâ€™ ethos â€“ why have one great singer, when you can have 4! Itâ€™s a mix of styles to, while being obviously uber-trendy and totally ironic at one and the same time. (â€˜Stop Kissing meâ€™ reminds me of J-Loâ€™s â€˜Jenny from the Blockâ€™ for some bizarre reason.) At one moment itâ€™s like Queen and the Chi-lites have taken over a Roadhouse, while â€˜Whatâ€™s Hideousâ€™ is rather like watching Michael Jackson and Angie Stone duet over the top of a sonic duel between the Brand New Heavies and MÃ¶torhead. These guys are art, not a band. They donâ€™t play a gig, they play a show, and a stomping, stamping, shaking one at that. They donâ€™t miss a trick. Iâ€™m even reliably informed that on of the singers was doing yoga off stage in between songs â€“ that professionalism! Hallelujah! A visual feast which, while it may have seemed strange to have a London band headlining a celebration of Bristol music, just about justified their booking.
Photo by Theo Berry