Scalping provide a thrilling sonic and visual assault at a sold out Electrowerkz
Elli Chappelhow
14:39 18th October 2019

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Sometimes, to really capture how a set has influenced a crowd, you must observe the fleeting moment in which the lights come up after the band finishes. It sounds like a weird point to start a review, but it is something that is really telling. After Scalping leave the stage at Electrowerkz, the sold out crowd is a mass of sweaty, surging bodies, looking around at the strangers they’ve just spent the last hour pressing their bodies against: a look of complete bewilderment and awe at what they’ve just witnessed is plastered across their faces. Their ears are ringing, their bodies are tingling, and their sensory system is alight. They probably won’t be able to sleep tonight. 

So, what happened in the run up to this moment? First up are Irish noise-rock band The Claque, who provide the perfect opening statement of intent for the evening. A throbbing bassline is a constant throughout the set, over which gritty screeching guitar pierces through. At one point, the frenetic bursts of blistering guitar freakouts recede and something serene washes over the entranced audience, but it’s not long until they return in full force. The Claque take a giant leap into a whole other genre and sound by introducing the captivating vocal from Kate Brady, which provides a beautifully dissonant reprieve from the swirling, grinding, gouging mass produced by her bandmates.

Scalping’s set starts with all the stage lights dramatically turned off, meaning the band are illuminated only by the projected visuals behind them. Said visuals provide the focal point on stage; not only because the musicians themselves are barely lit, mainly because these projections are entrancingly brilliant. They glitch, morph and grow, flicking effortlessly between the organic and the geometric, the abstract and the realistic - they are utterly mesmerising, and support the sonic narrative seamlessly. 

Their sound is rooted in garage and post-punk, but they elevate this formula by bringing a pulverisingly heavy techno-electronica soundscape that transports you to another dimension.  Their audience too seem to transcend the limitations of genre: you’ve got metalheads, techno-fans, post-punk moshers and acid-dance lovers all crowded under the peeling roof of Electrowerkz. It all makes for quite interesting viewing, watching how this mixed-genre audience dance to the music; to mosh or to rave, that is the question…By the end, as Scalping’s sound slowly morphs into their most popular track ‘Chamber’, everyone sets themselves free from the limitations of the "typical" way to dance for a certain genre, and just surrenders their limbs to the power of the sound. It’s a very, very special set. 

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Photo: Lizzie Wood