Arrows Of Love
Wednesday April 30 2014
A big gig tonight, for Arrows Of
Love. The Scala might not quite be the
Enormodome, but it's certainly a cut above the back rooms and basements
London underground rock circuit where, over the last few years, the band
have plied their trade and made their name.
It's been a long old scrabble up the ladder for Arrows Of Love - possibly a bit longer than the band themselves care to admit. Their Wikipedia page rather coyly states that the band's "line-up was finalised in the Summer of 2011" - which hints at a prehistory which played out before the line-up was finalised.
There was even a previous appearance by an earlier
incarnation of Arrows Of Love at the Scala in
2008 - along with much encouraging talk about recording
in Trevor Horn's studio, no less.
Maybe all that amounted to a bit too much, too soon. At any rate, Arrows Of Love spent the next few years finding an audience (and, possibly, finding themselves) on the UK toilet circuit. At any rate, there was no more talk of Trevor Horn. But now, they're back at the Scala, launching their debut album Everything's Fucked - recorded, as far as I can make out, without any hotshot producers getting anywhere near it. This time, maybe, they've earned it.
Let's warm up with some support acts. I walk in on Puffer, doing their heavy-duty clank 'n' churn in front of a sparse early-doors crowd. Hefty basslines whump and grumble, the guitars are never less than large. It all gets a bit Treponem Pal at times, in a post-rock-but-totally-rock kind of way.
stuff, but there are plenty of bands in the same sort of
area these days - including, it's probably fair to say, our very next band:
Heavy, fuzzy, fast-moving and manic, Claw Marks represent the wigged-out end of modern rock. They're a cross between Cro-Mags and Hawkwind: hardcore hippies.
The singer darts about crazily - he runs on the spot, hurls himself over the crowd barrier (disconnecting his mic lead in the process, which does rather take the wind out of his sails) and generally acts as if he's on a very different trip to the rest of us.
Meanwhile the band keep slammin',
and even a mysterious conk-out in the guitar department doesn't stop their
feakout workout. I suspect Claw Marks' natural home is the Weird Tent
at Glastonbury, but in the prosaic surroundings of an old cinema in King's
Cross, they're not bad at all.
Turbogeist look like they've won a competition on a packet of cornflakes to be here. They seem curiously clean and fresh-faced, as if they've only just been unwrapped from the cellophane. They throw rock band shapes with such careful attention it's as if they learned the moves from an instructional video.
When the guitarist essays a bit of a
cock-rock pose - angling his
guitar upwards, as if to accentuate a crashing powerchord - it's downright
risible. You'd accept such moves
from - say - Steve Vai, but to see Turbogeist
do it makes the band look like they're only a few steps on from playing
air guitar in front of the bedroom mirror.
Now, before you say "C'mon, man, what about the music?" - well, what about the music?
If a competent but essentially anonymous rock-blare is your thing, like a glossed-up Misery Loves Co, you're going to dig Turbogeist. As, it seems, plenty of people already do: the band certainly has fans, many of them elegant girls in designer rock gear, who watch Turbogeist's curiously unconvincing portrayal of a rock band with cool detachment and indulgent half-smiles. Boys will be boys, eh? Best let them get it out of their system.
And here come Arrows Of Love, in a cloud of smoke and a cacophony of guitars.
They're a ramshackle bunch, a random gang, rocking a scruffy-but-glammy look - and also rocking a fractious, fractured, all-over-the-place racket.
Of Love songs are the rock 'n' roll equivalent of falling downstairs in a tangle
of limbs, but somehow landing in a standing position wearing an expression
that says, "I meant to do that."
Everything is a blattering blur of fast 'n' messy punkzoid rocking, the guitars pushing and shoving each other though the songs, the vocals fighting their way to the front of the crowd. But Arrows Of Love know how to keep their sonic mess under control. Behind that virtuoso display of crazed all-over-the-placeness is a band with a sure grip on their noisy art.
The band knows instinctively how far to push the pandemonium, before reeling in the incipient chaos and nailing everything down to a surprisingly firm structure. They might look as loose as a moose, but Arrows Of Love are actually, effortlessly, just as tight as they need to be.
It's all a good old mash-up of of sturm and drang, and the band seem endearingly chuffed to be at the centre of the storm.
Yep, it's been a scrabble. But Arrows of Love have earned their big night.
For more photos from this gig, find Arrows Of Love by name here.