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The Lexington, London
Thursday May 3  2012


I don't want to diss anyone's art here, but I suspect if Sserpress want to get ahead in the crazy old world of rock 'n' roll it might be an idea to come up with an alternative name - something it's actually possible to remember, spell, and pronounce. Search engine optimisation is a wonderful thing, but it shoud never be allowed to get in the way of plain English. (I'd hazard the name should be pronounced something like 'Suppress', but frankly your guess is as good as mine here).

Sserpress must've used up their entire imagination quotient on their name, mind, for the band themselves turn out to be a fairly standard fuzzy-grungy-rocky outfit, all Mudhoney hair and muddy guitar. They're not bad at it, I suppose, but there are umpteen bands in London doing this kind of sort-of stoner rock equally well. And with names you can pronounce, too.

VuvuvulturesI'm told you pronounce Vuvuvultures as if you've got a stutter - so it's vuh-vuh rather than voo-voo. I throw this information in at no extra cost.

Also at no extra cost, I can also tell you that Vuvuvultures arrive on stage seething with new wavey energy, vocalist Harmony Boucher an angular shapeshifting diva up front, the rest of the band churning away like a manic machine.

Vuvuvultures songs are densely-packed bursts of noo wave thrum and roar, a precision-engineered collision between wide-screen swirling drama and stripped-down post-punkery.

The band fills the stage with movement and noise, never quite tumbling into mere grandstanding, but always making sure their presence fills the room. It's a fine line, but Vuvuvultures walk it well.

Every time I mention Manflu I seem to remark on the band's enticing scariness. Maybe this is just me, but Manflu do seem to glower with a certain implacable no-shitness. There's a sense that if you ever met this lot in a dark alley, it wouldn't end well. And that's no bad thing. I've always believed that bands are better if they make you slightly nervous. I mean, to pluck a random comparison out of the rock 'n' roll ether, Siouxsie's refrigerated stare or Katy Perry's glossed-up faux-girl-next-doorness - who gets your vote?

ManfluSo, plucking up my courage and my pint, I cautiously approach the stage. There's a dead doll tied to the microphone stand. Well, of course there is. With any other band, that might look like a tacky affectation. With Manflu, it looks like a statement of intent.

Off they go, cranking up their clatter and rumble, their nagging, finger-poking rhythms prodding the songs along. The guitar is sharp like broken glass, the bass grumbles like the grumpy bloke in the corner of the pub, the keyboards sweep imperiously through the racket like a governess striding through a boisterous kindergarten. Yep, Manflu have definitely brought the noise along with their attitude tonight.

And pulling it all forward, leading from the front, there's that magnificently disdainful Manflu vocal, stalking through the songs as if on a tour of inspection. 'Holes' escalates in a flurry of staccato drums from a cabaret ballad to a frantic burst of rhythm,. 'Gaspar Is An Onion' (a typically gnomic Manflu title there) is a pell-mell fable, a surrealist children's song. One day, they'll be doing this on Sesame Street, you wait and see.

Everything builds up to 'Tek', the big, strobetastic finish. But in a way it's not quite the big climax it used to be. Partly because we're all used to it now. We know Manflu will finish with 'Tek', because Manflu always finish with 'Tek'. But also because the band's other songs are just as much towers of rhythmic power in their way as 'Tek' is. The band could end on anything and it would be equally effective.

But what the hell. There's still no arguing with the sheer relentless force of that thundering, circling rhythm and those slashes of abrasive guitar. 'Tek' still does the business, and when the singer hurls herslf to the floor, with the strobe and the beat piling on top of her like an audio-visual landslide, Manflu have nailed it again. Scary fuckers they may be, but they're groovy fuckers too.

Manflu: Website | Facebook

Vuvuvultures: Website | Facebook

Sserpress: Website | Facebook


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

Find a Vuvuvultures EP review here.

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