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The Dogbones - flyerThe Dogbones
Black Sixteen
Dumbjaw
The Voodoo Binmen

Unicorn, London
Friday July 25 2014


 

Once more into the Unicorn, in search of rock 'n' roll...

Ah, there it is, on stage right now - in the ramshackle form of The Voodoo Binmen, who are a kind of minimalist version of Fat White Family. Two lairy lads on guitar and drums flail and bash and holler, and generally make an entertainingly messy racket.

The Voodoo BinmenThe proceedings are enlivened by a couple of guys with video cameras, who get down the front and shove their hardware right into the bands' faces, presumably in an effort to get dramatic close-up shots. Possibly they aren't aware that we have these things called 'zoom lenses' now.

At any rate, they do a fine job of Getting In The Way, and do rather take the fun out of the set. I'm sure the video will be great, mind.

The video guys return for Dumbjaw's set, but as Dumbjaw are a four-piece band there's more to keep them occupied and thus a better chance of the rest of us getting a view of the stage without having to dodge around some bloke trying to get that vital up-the-nostrils shot from six inches away.

Dumbjaw rock out like Queens Of The Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden - you know, all those rock-but-not-metal bands that manage to sound punchy and smooth at the same time. Dumbjaw are working in that same area, and they've certainly got their enormodome heads on tonight. They give it loads like they're on stage at Wembley (the bassist in particular has an impressive range of rock star shapes), and generally do all the essential stuff that rock bands do.

Dumbjaw

If that makes it sound like Dumbjaw lack any real individuality - well, yes, that's about the size of it. They're good at what they do, no question. But there are a lot of bands out there doing it, and Dumbjaw don't necessarily rise above the crowd. You gotta have a USP, guys.

Black Sixteen have certainly given some thought to the old identity question. They're highly colour-coded in red and black - clothes, hair, hardware, all fit the scheme. Even the bassist's strings are red. That's the visuals sorted, then. Now for the noise.Black Sixteen

Black Sixteen edge the evening's entertainment slightly more towads the metal zone, but although they push their big rock racket right up to the line, they never quite cross it.

Black Sixteen are tight and heavy, the vocals are an anguished rasp, and the riffs are suitably face-melting.

But for all that, they're still not quite a metal band, and that means that even at their heaviest and raspiest (and, at times, Black Sixteen get very heavy and raspy) they're still accessible for those of us who are a little metalphobic. That accessibility that gives the band a broader appeal than you might at first expect. I'm not much of a rawk merchant, but I find myself rather digging the Black Sixteen blast.

But now I'm ready for some proper punk, and here come
The Dogbones to dish it up. This is where things might get a little messy, in a rock 'n' roll kind of way. The video guys seem to have beaten a retreat, and perhaps that's wise. The Dogbones, at full pelt, don't take prisoners.
The Dogbones
Crank up, here goes. Only one drummer in the line-up nowadays, it seems, but that drummer is Vince Johnson, who is well able to keep the rolling thunder going by himself. Johnny Orion is present and correct, swinging his guitar from the hip, and, of course, Nomi Leonard is up front, dressed as if for a surrealist barbeque on the roof of the Riot House, giving it her best grunge-quee
n caterwaul.

The Dogbones don't so much play a set as tip their songs off the top of a mountain, and go careering down the slope in a glorious landslide of rock 'n' roll freak-outery. But they always remain in control - sort of, somehow - and the songs themselves are always equal parts pop sensibility and rampaging crash and swagger.


There's new stuff in the set - a new album is in the works, apparently - and newies like 'You live In Hell Already' and 'Time's Running Out' have the makings of classic Dogbones anthems: abrasiveness and catchiness holding hands and knocking heads. The band slam through 'Give Us A Kiss', their caustic dissection of the music biz, and 'Goodbye Miss Jane', their hat-doff to absent friends, gets a good seeing-to.

Michael Vakalis, on bass, even has an enthusiastic female fan leaping out of the audience and throwing herself at his feet - and, let's face it, chaps, if that sort of thing starts happening to a band, you know you're doing something right.

That's The Dogbones for you. Crazy noise, poptastic tunes, on-stage mayhem. Yep, they're doing it right.

The Dogbones

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For more photos from this gig, find The Dogbones by name here.

Page credits: Words, photos and construction by Michael Johnson. Nemesis logo by Antony Johnston. Red N version by Mark Rimmell.

Words and photos in Nemesis To Go by Michael Johnson are licenced under Creative Commons. You may copy and distribute this material, or derivations of it, provided that you give a credit to Michael Johnson and a link to Nemesis To Go. Where material from other sources is used, copyright remains with the original owners. All rights in the name 'Nemesis To Go' and the 'N' logo are retained.