Lady Luck, Canterbury
Monday August 5 2013
'No crowd surfing tonight' says the stern notice
in the Lady Luck, leaving us with the rather odd impression that crowd
surfing is usually allowed...just not tonight.
Maybe the management is worried things might get a little boisterous. Well, if tonight's bands have anything to do with it, that's a distinct possibility.
Social Schism have a nice line in fast 'n' righteous strop-punk, underpinned by incongrously nimble, jazzy basslines. It's as if a prog-jazz player took a wrong turning in the rehearsal studio complex, and ended up playing with entirely the wrong bunch of noisemakers.
But, as so often, the incongruity
is what makes it work. Without those all-over-the-place basslines, Social
Schism, would be just another brash bunch of punkers. Add the bass, and
they side-step into the weird 'n' interesting zone.
Now it all goes wide-screen, in that big, bombastic, hands-in-the-air enormodome style which The Killers more or less defined. That seems to be where Electric River are coming from - every song is a hurtling anthem, everything revs up into a succession of rousing choruses as the guitars push everything along.
Electric River are
undeniably good at the anthemic stuff, and the singer has a nice line
in Bruce Springsteen-ish intensity. Whatever melodramas are being played
out in the songs, he means it, man. But, as ever when I'm confronted by
this sort of supersized tremendo-rock, I'm seized with a desire to listen
to some minimal techno as an antidote. Or even some no-shit ruff 'n' basic
punk rock - which is handy, because here comes...
Choking Susan, a band that sounds like a car crash between the Ramones, the Stooges, the Plasmatics and the UK Subs. That's a good thing, by the way. There should be more car crashes in rock 'n' roll. Metaphorically, of course. We don't want punk rock carnage on the public highway. But a little bit of punk rock carnage in the Lady Luck isn't a bad thing.
And here comes the carnage, riffs at ramming speed, bass and drums having a Saturday night fight, rock music unceremoniously stripped down like a speedway-spec motorcycle.
Choking Susan don't do subtlety. They're the least likely band to say, "Now we're going to take it down a bit," and throw in a sensitive ballad.
Believe me, Choking Susan never take
it down a bit.
But what prevents the band becoming just another bunch of punker noise boys - not a bad thing in itself, of course, but there are a lot of them about - is Choking Susan's vocalist, the feisty queen-o-glam Colleen Caffeine, who fronts the band with equal parts insouciant charm and don't-mess-with-me poise.
She's an audio-visual whirl: all flailing red hair and a 100 mph harangue of a vocal, the focal point of the band's roaring racketry. In the close confines of the Lady Luck her presence dominates the room: but she's a friendly dominatrix, and the room is quite willing to be hauled in the direction of punker nirvana by her non-stop gyrations and exhortations.
It's all a masterrclass - or
possibly a mistressclass - in how to do yer actual punk rock with maximum
levels of energy, noise, and attitude, but at the same time keeping it
all accessible and adding a dash of shredded glamour. One day, all punk
bands will be like this.
Well, actually, no, they won't. Which means it's just as well we've got Choking Susan.