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Sheep On Drugs flyerSheep On Drugs
Angelbomb
Organ Donner

New Cross Inn, London
Saturday February 23 2013

 

Back in the golden days of 1992 I remember seeing Sheep On Drugs at the Venue in New Cross - at the time one of London's key stopping-off places for bands on their way up.

Sheep On Drugs were hot stuff at the time. The band had hit paydirt with their debut album of post-Alien Sex Fiend sardonic techno-punk stompers. An album which, surely, showed the way for The Prodigy - at the time still doing novelty breakbeat numbers, but who got all punky and attitude-laden in a distinctly SOD style shortly afterwards.

That '92 gig was rammed, and the band was wild. Scenes from that night are in my memory to this very day: frontman Duncan X pulling his double-wig stunt, then pulling out a pistol and shooting into the audience. Blanks, although it gave everyone an oh-fuck experience. I even remember the plugs being pulled at the end, because the gig had over-run. There wasn't actually a riot, but it got close there for a moment. Crazy days, kids.

The Venue still exists, although nowadays it restricts itself to a curiously provincal repertoire of mainstream party nights and tribute bands, as if New Cross was a small town in Leicestershire rather than part of nearly-central London, a mere spit away from the City's gleaming spires.

And Sheep On Drugs still exist, too, with a revised line-up and a hefty catalogue of releases behind them, although that first album is still the one everybody remembers.

Tonight they're back in their old stamping ground - almost. The New Cross Inn is mere yards from the Venue. Don't ask me what's happening there tonight. Some sort of Coldplay tribute, I shouldn't wonder. We'll hurry past with eyes carefully averted. The real action is going to be next door.

Here comes the action. Organ Donner have a punning name that doesn't quite work (it should be 'Doner': two consonants shorten the vowel, c'mon guys, didn't you do this stuff at school?) and a curiously mish-mashed sound in which programmed beatz fight it out with cerebral washes of proggy guitar, while a feisty grrl in Catwoman fetish gear bounds around up front like a cross between a dominatrix and a gym mistress.

Organ Donner

They're a lot of fun, these Organ Donners, even if the contrast between the pounding dance beats and quasi-ambient guitar sweeps is a bit of an odd collision. I find myself wishing the guitarist would just start thrashing out a riff - keep it strictly rhythm, mate, you don't need to make it cry or sing.

And here come Angelbomb, 90s industrio-punks now reformed for the twenty-first century. The 90s looms large in the Angelbomb aesthetic. I mean, their website is their MySpace page, and how 90s is that? They also make a very 90s noise, all big beats and bigger guitars. They remind me of the Slimelight industrial floor, round about the time 'D'You Think I'm Sexy?' by the Revolting Cocks was the big tune.

Angelbomb

There's definitely a Revolting Cocks influence in the Angelbomb sturm und drang. Then again, it might just be the Slimelight industrial floor influence. All of which makes the band sound like a bit of a specialist interest, and personally it's not quite my interest. I had enough of the Slimelight industrial floor in the 90s, ta very much.

But for all that, Angelbomb kick their mojo around with plenty of conviction tonight. Interestingly, because previously none of the band's songs have really stood out for me, their celebrity stomper 'Walk Like Mickey Rourke' does actually sound like a hit. Possibly at the Slimelight. In the 90s.

Sheep On DrugsIn a way, Sheep On Drugs are also none more nineties. The band had their initial - and greatest - success in that decade, and their big tunes of the time are most of the reason they can still haul 'em through the door today.

But Sheep On Drugs have also clasped the twenty-first century in a somewhat sticky embrace. Just how sticky, we're about to find out.

Now a male/female duo, in which Lee Fraser (guitars, electronix, vocals, manic eyes, half-dismantled bits of computer games) is aided, abetted, and sometimes confronted by Johnny Borden (more electronix, vocals, spray paint, weaponry), Sheep On Drugs are half showbiz, half sci-fi gang fight.

Their frayed electronica cranks up. Their grubby groove rolls out of the PA, baleful and slinky, the perfect soundtrack for a fuck or a fight. The Drug duo themselves prowl and snarl and strike attitudes as if they're auditioning for a particularly dystopian remake of A Clockwork Orange - and, encouragingly, the crowd seem just as interested in the new stuff as the old stuff. I'm struck by what a fine sardonic party anthem the band have in 'The Joy Division' - and, of course, Sheep On Drugs have always done 'sardonic' better than anyone.

Lee stabs at his battered Guitar Hero guitar, a neat re-purposing of fake rock instruments in the cause of real rock 'n' roll, and there are a good few layers of irony there to pick apart if you fancy a go. Johnny swings a strap-on keyboard and gives the crowd her best disdainful glare. This Sheep On Drugs show is a bit like meeting Iggy Pop and Captain Maggot - Emilie Autumn's pirate sidekick - at a warehouse party that's constantly on the brink of getting out of hand.

Sheep On DrugsThe big hits get hurled in: 'Sex Drive' and 'Motorbike', are rebuilt as boy/girl angst workouts, repositioning Sheep On Drugs as some sort of bonkers Shangri-Las.

It's all a gonzoid techno-punk pantomime, although I'm not about to speculate on who's the villain and who's the principal boy. But that's the Sheep On Drugs sticky embrace of the twenty-first century. And yep, they've got some good glue.

 

 

Sheep On Drugs: Website | Facebook

Angelbomb: MySpace | Facebook

Organ Donner: Website | Facebook

 

 

For more photos from this gig,
find Sheep On Drugs by name here.

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