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Manflu
Vuvuvultures
Severin
The Caulfield Beats

Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London
Wednesday January 11 2012

They might have a name that makes them sound like characters out of a Jack Kerouac novel, but The Caulfield Beats are rooted in the ravetastic 90s - or so it would seem from their electronic mostly-instrumentals, which definitely have a bit of bangin' choonery about them.

The Caulfield BeatsThere are two people on stage, both hunched over technology, while images flicker on a big screen. It seems one Caulfield Beat controls the imagery, the other brings the noise. That's an interesting approach in itself - the band is obviously at home with the notion that rock 'n' roll (which for the purposes of this review we'll say includes bangin' beats) is an audio-visual art form.

But for all the visual excitements, and notwithstanding the sound-controller's occasional enthusiastic shout-outs, The Caulfield Beats are a fairly one-dimensional experience. I'm waiting for an Actual Song to arrive, but it never quite does. It's beat workouts all the way with these two. Well, at least we can't say they didn't warn us - they're not called The Caulfield Songs, after all.

SeverinCalling your band Severin touches on all manner of reference points, of course, but tonight's Severin turn out to be another duo, this time of the girl-on-electronics 'n' vocals, boy-on-guitar variety. They make a fuzzy indie-electro noise which gets a bit shoegazey around the edges as the guitarist prods his effects pedals.

The vocals weave their way through the music in a semi-detached kind of way, and in the end that's the way I feel about Severin. Semi-detached.

I mean, I like fuzzy indie-electro, but while Severin have the essential noise nailed down they don't quite have the memorable songs or attention-grabbing stage presence that separates the great bands from the good-but-not-that-good bands.

Talking of band names, as we seem to be doing, what do we make of Vuvuvultures? Well, one thing's for sure: they'll always be able to find themselves in Google. And anyway, compared to the band's previous name, Vuvuvultures sounds much more sorted. Until recently, this lot were called Bunny Come.

Vuvuvultures are also pretty sorted at whacking out a heady, densely-packed wall of alternonoise. They manage to sound like a big, churning rock machine, but they've got a certain pop sensibility, too, and they know how to speed it up and slap down a groove. The focal point of the band is their singer, who mirrors every angle of the microphone stand in a series of rock 'n' roll yoga moves, all the while giving it a big emotive indie-diva holler.

VuvuvulturesVuvuvultures are clearly a finished product. There's no sense of work in progress here. This is what they are, this is what they do. And they're good at it, too, while still being disarming and funny and ever so slightly unslick - when the singer struggles into a bondage harness, unsure which strap goes where, it's quite an endearing moment.

If the idea was to create a sense of fetishistic edginess, it doesn't quite work. If the idea was to subvert the idea of creating a sense of fetishistic edginess - well, that works.

The set tumbles to a climax, with singer and bassist in a heap on the floor. That's how you do it, kids.

And here come Manflu, baleful stares and here-we-stand-we-can-do-no-other demeanour well to the fore. Manflu manage to be scary and groovy in equal measures. They churn and clatter and make their insistent, metallic, guitar-clanging rhythmic meta-funk - that's 'metallic' as in bits of processed iron ore bashing together, by the way, rather than, say, Children Of Bodom. For this, we are duly thankful.

Tonight there's some squalling saxophone added to the brew, used to drop an extra layer of noise into the mix rather than add melody. It's a very no wave moment - appropriate for a band that's about as no wave as you can get in London in the twenty-first century, and double-appropriate for a band that has a song called 'James Chance Coronary'. Manflu bump and grind and stomp and stare like a slightly dangerous mechanical cabaret, and the crowd gets its scary funky jerk on. That's also how you do it, kids.Manflu

 

 

 

Manflu: Website | Facebook

Vuvuvultures: Website | Facebook

Severin: Website | Facebook

The Caulfield Beats: Website | Facebook

 

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

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