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Screaming Banshee AircrewScreaming Banshee Aircrew
Dublin Castle, London
Thursday March 25 2010



This gig, apparently, is something to do with the Red Stripe Search For A Star contest, or whatever it's called. A battle of the bands thing, anyway, where the prize is a can of warm lager (I may not have that detail quite right, either).

If I seem a little cynical here (Oh, surely not, I hear you cry), it's because in my experience battle of the bands contests usually lead to rock 'n' roll oblivion even quicker than the bands can manage by themselves. I mean, can you name last year's winner of the Red Stripe Music Award (there, I knew its proper title all along)? Bet you can't. It was, of course, Ben Howard. You know, Ben Howard! Doesn't ring any bells? Well, then. I rest my case.

Still, a gig is a gig, innit. Although I frankly doubt if the Screaming Banshee Aircrew will get much of a career boost even if they win the contest (hey, with a bit of luck they could become just as famous as Ben Howard), it's no bad thing for an emerging band to have a track record of gigs around London's indie venue circuit. That looks a lot more pertinent on a band's CV than any contest entries.

So, opening up for a motley assortment of other contenders (tonight's bill includes various indie hopefuls and an 8-piece ska band, apparently), here comes the Aircrew. The set has been honed down to the sharpest and spikiest songs, and although that means a few old faves have been shunted out the door, the resulting set packs a useful punch. Twitching under blue light, vocalist Mister Ed is a glam-punk master of ceremonies, looming out into the crowd in a faintly scary manner while the music gets all snaggle-toothed and monstrous around him. The Screaming Banshee Aircrew's sound, stripped and refined to the post-punk bones as it is these days, manages to be at once abrasive and flowing, crunchy and nimble. The drums set up a mighty rumble, but the violin always finds cracks in the sound to wriggle through.

'I'm sorry,' says Mister Ed. 'Were really so sorry,' adds guitarist Chris. 'No, we are,' insists Ed, 'So sorry!' By now the audience is exchanging anxious glances, wondering what's gone wrong, but in fact this sudden apology-frenzy is the tricksy intro to 'So Sorry', a Banshee Aircrew soap opera set to a rollicking beat. But 'Shutter' is the showstopper, as it so frequently is: staccato and menacing, its chorus-shouts of 'Shutter!' punctuating the song like descending guillotine blades.

The Screaming Banshee Aircrew don't deal in indie-schmindie easy listening - they've got too much of a jagged edge for that. Too much blue light, too many glam-punk angles, too many snaggly teeth in the music. For that reason I doubt they'll win the can of warm lager tonight. But tonight's performance proves one thing: there's more than one way of moving forward.

Screaming Banshee Aircrew

Screaming Banshee Aircrew:
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For more photos from this gig, find the Screaming Banshee Aircrew by name here.

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