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The DogbonesThe Dogbones
Pussycat And The Dirty Johnsons
Bubblegum Screw

Dublin Castle, London
Wednesday February 13 2013



I don't know if the band is early or I'm late, but as I get my hand-stamp and enter the Dublin Castle's back room, Bubblegum Screw are well into their set of New York Dolls-ish punky glammy rock. And doing well with the early-doors crowd, too, who are clearly up for a bit of that kind of noise.

Bubblegum Slut wear their influences on their sleeves: you can pretty much guess what they've got in their record collections just by watching them swagger through their glam-slam moves as if they're playing Max's Kansas City in 1975, rather than a Camden boozer in the twenty-first century. That's their appeal - and, ultimately, their limiting factor. They've got this stuff down, but they never stray from the source.

Somewhere, a university rock soc is missing its house band. Peyote are a collection of clean-cut young chaps in suits, who make a cheerily bouncy pop-rock racket, while their mates in the crowd (and their crowd seems to be all mates) jolly them along.

I don't know if this is just me, but there seem to be a lot of bands like this around at the moment...and they all seem to end up in support slots at the Dublin Castle. It's not that Peyote are bad, you understand - on the contrary, I'm sure they'd go down a treat at the May Ball - but I like my bands to be a bit weirder, a bit wilder, and to have a bit of art in there somewhere. Peyote are too much like light entertainment for me.

Bubblegum Screw / Peyote

Fortunately, here comes a band that ticks all the essential boxes. Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons have a new album out, a revamped set that elbows out the oldies and hauls in the newies, and a new, bass-free line-up on stage. Hmm. No bass, eh? That's an unexpected move for a band that's always kept it chunky in the bottom end. But any doubts about what the absence of a bass guitar might do to the band's customary rock 'n' roll bump 'n' grind are dispelled when they crank up the racket.

The sound is instantly as large and lairy as ever, although now with a certain stripped-down feel that suits the band's aesthetic, which, for all its good ol' rockin' styling cues, is actually rather more left-field than you might expect.

Puss Johnson lets rip her take-no-prisoners caterwaul, the drums nail the no-frills beat, the guitar chops out slices of fuzztone sound-blocks, and the band's conceptual clamour proceeds to conquer the Dublin Castle with a little bit of minimalism and maximum noise. Bass guitars? Who needs 'em?

Now, what were we saying about weirdness, wildness, and art? Here's a band that brings all three to the party.

The Dogbones kick it off with their customary lack of ceremony. The boys are be-blazered, the drummers flail in each other's faces, the sound is Steve Jones-big and jagged-edgy. Sound and vision in a brash collision. And here's the art: Nomi Leonard, The Dogbones' vocalist, appears with Barbie's gimp mask attached to her face, its fixed manic grin and shiny plastic skin giving the gig the instant atmosphere of a dada nightmare.

Fortunately for our chances of getting a good night's sleep, the mask is removed and normality returns - for The Dogbones' value of normality. The band pummel out a righteous blast of scruffy, scuzzy rock 'n' roll, as ever walking the line between crazy and control, between gritty, grungy noise and that surprisingly nimble pop sensibility that lurks within even the most raucous Dogbones tunes.

It all escalates to a fuzz-and-thunder crescendo - and then the deconstruction: guitars scraped along the monitor wedges, band members upping and leaving the stage, the audience reaching out to strum abandoned guitars. In this moment, everyone's a Dogbone. It all finishes in a blur of sonic chaos, with Nomi holding a drummer down on stage, as if restraining a rioter. We've gone from dadaism to situationism in the space of one rock 'n' roll set. That's just the way The Dogbones do it, kids.

The Dogbones

The Dogbones: Facebook

Pussycat And The Dirty Johnsons: Website | Facebook

Peyote: Website | Facebook

Bubblegum Screw: Website | Facebook

For more photos from this gig, find the bands by name here.

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