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Ipso Facto
Eve Black / Eve White
Sam Amant
Kitty Bang Bang

Decasia @ The Old Blue Last, London
Wednesday August 29 2007

Sam AmantThe east end of London has become distressingly yuppfied over the last few years, but there's still at least one pub that has not transformed itself into a desperately trendy designer wine bar. The Old Blue Last defiantly retains its nineteenth-century scruffiness, and is much better for it, if you ask me. What's more, the pub features an upstairs room, traditionally decorated in rock 'n' roll matt black, where weird and loud bands can do their thing. Tonight the mysterious Decasia organisation, purveyours of art and stimulation to the tousled urchins of London, aim to fill that room with the right stuff.

Last time we saw Sam Amant, she was torturing a Stratocaster in the name of art. This time, she's got a touch of night fever (if her white suit is anything to go by) and she's racking up some mutant disco hits with the help of assorted electronics and a tall gent in a pink topper, who plays the role of backing vocalist, noise controller, performance artist and all-round glamourous assistant. It's a freaked out, fractured mass of thundering beats and odd little touches of electro-detail, and it hangs together rather well. 'Blow It' is a veritable teenage rampage - 'I will never let you down!' hollers Sam, more manic with every repetition, before the song collapses in on itself like a dead star, whereupon she remarks 'Oh, yes I will', as if she's just changed her mind that minute. The highlight of the show comes right at the end. On the final song, the be-toppered gent, not having any musical role, simply brings out a beauty bag and attends to his personal grooming as the beats rinse around him. When he starts calmly rolling on deodorant we know we are in the presence of genius.

Eve Black / Eve WhiteEve Black / Eve White are all dressed up in cocktail party glam gear, and they stand behind their minimalist technology as cool as if they've just been taken out of the fridge. This is the paradox of Eve Black / Eve White: for a band that utterly eschews the usual paraphernalia of rock 'n' roll - indeed, they hardly present themselves to us as if they are a band - their sound is physical, tribal, weirdly psychedelic. And yet it all comes out of a little silver box and two Shure SM58 microphones. 'Thief In The Night' is a monochrome melodrama all by itself, a spookily rumbling thing bizarrely in tune with the old Bela Lugosi movies flickering on the back wall. Enigmatic and reserved - the band don't address a word to the crowd between songs - Eve Black / Eve White perform as if, somewhere behind their eyes, they're taking part in a sixties neo-realism TV play, a Nancy Sinatra kitchen sink drama, where gritty domestic scenes intercut with soft focus, velvet trimmed cabaret sequences, and the music swoops and swoons. Or maybe that's just me.

Did we say cool? Did we say sixties? Ipso Facto look like they've just taken a Routemaster bus from Carnaby Street, somewhere in the mid-but-not-late sixties, when modernism was just beginning to shade into psychedelia. They look like the kind of girls who came top in everything at school, and their sound is stripped-down and economical, the spaces between the beats Ipso Factohinting at cross-rhythms you can't quite hear. It's intriguing to encounter what is, at first glance and an initial listen, an unashamed pop group playing immediate, catchy pop songs, and yet underneath there's a left-field undercurrent which hints at strange ideas swirling in the depths. Mind you, the band have a certain punker sensibility, too. During a slight hiatus caused by a broken guitar lead, the bassist fills the gap by whacking out the bassline to the Stranglers' swaggering anthem 'Peaches'. That's not a direction Ipso Facto go in during the set itself, but it hints at a hardcore heart.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the splendid Kitty Bang Bang, a burlesque dancer attired in balloons and rose petals, who gives us an incongruously cheery routine to the melancholy strains of the old song 'Where Have All The Flowers Gone?'. Her smile never slips, which provides a vaguely unsettling counterpoint to lines like 'Gone to graveyards, every one'. Conventional wisdom has it, of course, that burlesque died out years ago, elbowed aside by brash lap dancing clubs and the like. But in fact burlesque simply executed a neat side step, and is alive and well in all sorts of strange areas. Burlesque in the upstairs room of an east end pub, on a bill with assorted representatives of art-indie music? Well, why not? I'll tell you this much - I bet they don't get this over at the designer wine bars. Weirdos one, yuppies nil. That's a result.





Essential links:

Ipso Facto : MySpace
Eve Black / Eve White: MySpace
Sam Amant: MySpace
Kitty Bang Bang: MySpace


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

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  Page credits: Review, photos and construction by Michael Johnson.
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