The Invisible Men
Roadkill @ Aces & Eights, London
Friday September 5 2014
Upstairs, there are psychobillies eating pizza.
Downstairs, men in bandages are making a surf-punk noise.
This is Aces and Eights, a rock 'n' roll bar in London's most rock 'n' roll location, Nigel Tuffnel Park, and those blokes in bandages areThe Invisible Men. Well, they would be, wouldn't they.
The band might have a pretty obvious gimmick, their ramalama scuzz-rock doesn't feature a huge amount of variety (it's one blast of garage-fuzz after another), and the lyrics, shouted through a layer of bandages, are uniformly indecipherable.
But, for all that, they're fun.
Their ragged racket hits the spot, and their spiv suits are suitably
stylin'. And I do like to see a band with a concept.
All of a sudden, it gets very dark...and very loud. Dressmaker are in the room: four shapeshifting silhouettes in a flickering strobe. Clearly, the band are going for the immersive experience here.
And Dressmaker are immersive - immersive in the way that hurling yourself into a vat of boiling soup is immersive. Dressmaker invade your consciousness to the point that, for the duration of their set, you're aware of nothing but their churning sonic broth and hunched shapes in the flashes of white light.
They pack this cellar with volume: wedging in great blocks of guitar, and hammering drumbeats into every corner.
The vocalist declaims tremendously from the stage, and occasionally from the audience - but even as the sound expands like hot gas in a pressure vessel, the band never lose grip of the essential structure. Chaos is balanced by method.
'Skeleton Girl', in particular, is a fine slice of rock 'n' roll romanticism, the kind of song that could be delivered with equal effectiveness by Gene Vincent or The Jesus And Mary Chain. Dressmaker's approach, naturally, is to soak everything in a barrage of speed and distortion and pins-and-needles guitar, but the vocal has a touch of wistful dreaminess about it that turns the song into a picturesque excursion into boy-fancies-girl territory...with everything on eleven.
It's not easy to follow Dressmaker's towering anthems, but Dedwardians give it a go. They're a disparate bunch: a couple of 'billies on drums and vocals, a beardy hipster type on bass, and an authentic garage rocker, complete with a Count Five hairstyle, on guitar.
The band sets up
a ruffianly racket, and it must be said they make a pretty good job
of distilling their various influences down to some no-shit rock 'n' roll.
They're tight and taut and just rough enough around the edges to keep things
Trouble is, after Dressmaker's masterclass in pushing the boundaries, blurring the edges, and generally booting rock music up the arse, Dedwardians' far more respectful approach can't help but look a little over-cautious. They don't so much kick rock music up the arse as shake it by the hand and offer to buy the dear old codger a beer.
They're decent, but they don't let go. And if we've learned one thing tonight, it's that a little bit of carefully-controlled chaos works wonders.
The Invisible Men: Facebook
Dressmaker's 'Glass' EP is reviewed here.