Sheep On Drugs
Saturday September 7 2013
Up the 'werkz for the Drugs. That's where we're headed
And an opening set of rumbing industrial electronix from Spucktute, who sound like an EBM version of Ian Dury And The Blockheads. A vaguely threatening geezer grumbles and grouses up front, like a cabbie who's been asked to go saaarf of the river, while his colleague stands behind a keyboard and chuckles to himself for no apparent reason. A female backing singer briefly takes the stage...but gives it back afterwards.
It all makes for an entertaining show, in a gothic techno
take on Sleaford Mods kind of way. Which may not be quite the effect Spucktute
had in mind - I suspect their general intention is to be a bit more of
a serious electro-industrial proposition, rather than a free-form kvetchathon
set to a disco beat. But, possibly by accident, they've arrived at something
The Duel count as tonight's wild card entry, I suppose. A bit of punk rock action in amongst the stomping industrialism. Still, The Duel can get suitably stompy themselves, and they certainly turn a bit of that stuff on tonight.
They knock out a set of righteous punker anthems, while the sparse crowd of early-doors Slimelighters and all-purpose industrial heads hangs back and gives them plenty of room.
The band don't seem bothered
by the subdued reaction - they must've guessed that this gig was going
to be hard work, given that they're the only rock outfit
on a night otherwise slanted towards bangin' beats and distressed electronix.
But vocalist Tara Rez launches herself at the audience as if intent that
everyone should pay attention now, dammit, and the band's punchy
street-glam racket makes its presence felt.
Concrete Lung. Two blokes. Guitar, bass, beats, shouting. The band are a nihilistic noise unit, hammering out vast slabs of brouhaha that sound like Napalm Death remixed by Boyd Rice. It's perversely exhilarating...for about two and a half songs, after which we've pretty much experienced the full range of Concrete Lung's art. If they have any numbers in their repertoire that aren't full-on shoutathons to a brutalist techno-bastard beat, they're not playing 'em tonight.
The guitarist/vocalist seems like a nice chap - he favours us with an amiable "Cheers!" at the conclusion of assorted songs, as if to hint that although Concrete Lung might sound like outriders of the industrial holocaust, they're top gents really.
Meanwhile, the bassist bobs and weaves like a boxer dodging the punches thrown out by the drum machine. It's effective stuff on its own limited - if not outright minimalist - terms, but in the end those limitations loom a bit too large for comfort.
Sheep on Drugs. All tattoos and baleful stares.
Sheep On Drugs always manage to look magnificently pissed off with everything,
but unlike Concrete Lung their all-purpose nihilislm is leavened by a
desire to turn on the showbiz. They're certainly not cracking any cheery
grins tonight. But for all that, Sheep On Drugs are a colourful duo.
They know it's all about the show.
Looming stage left, Lee Fraser, looking like a sinister children's entertainer after a heavy PCP session, is on guitars both real and replica. He's using a Guitar Hero computer game controller as a real guitar: a neat, humourous commentary on how for-real (or un-real) bands can be. Alongside him, Johnny Borden, on vocals, keyboards, body paint and general disruption, fronts the show like a recusant riot grrl from a science fiction future.
They crank the beats and bring the noise, mutoid-rave rhythms churning, odd outbursts of guitar keeping it punky.
The set is a mix of newies from the twenty-first century version of Sheep On Drugs, and old faves from the 90s incarnation of the band, now remanufactured for today's, female-vocal version.
'X Lover' has had its glitchy, sardonic original version
flammed up into a far more full-on rock 'n' roll revenge-fest, and dovetails
neatly with '12 Good Years', a holler 'n' stomp workout that wouldn't
the Glitter Band. And here comes 'Joy Division' - a newie that demostrates
that Sheep On Drugs' winning way with a superfast disco beat and a sardonic
lyric is still intact in the twenty-first century.
Sheep On Drugs are very good at being a dose of caustic soda shoved down the cultural drainpipe, and their mangled glamour makes them the very model of a post-apocalyptic pop group. In that sense they're a very contemporary proposition, always assuming your take on contemporary culture involves partying like Mad Max at the art school disco.
But the big tunes are still the vintage hits. 'Track X' is a pell-mell ride in an Escort XR3, and although it's probably about time the band traded up to a Subaru Impreza Cosworth, it's still a good trip. 'Motorbike' skids into view in a flurry of randomly-brandished prosthetic limbs; 'Fifteen Minutes Of Fame' is still secure in its status of the ultimate SOD anthem.
Then a sudden, speedfreak-dub
dash through 'Life's
A Bitch', and that's our lot. The dust settles; computer game kit is strewed
about as if the stage is a teenager's bedroom in the aftermath of a tantrum.
SOD's dystopian disco may or may not count as rock 'n' roll, but I'll tell you this. That's showbiz.
For more photos from this gig,
find Sheep on Drugs and The Duel by name here.