Friday February 28 2014
Early doors, turn it up, here we go. Dressmaker's noise assault thunders out of the PA like runaway machinery. Last time I saw this band, they were headlining this very venue. Now they're back, unexpectedly in the opening slot.
But then, it hardly matters. At
the non-megastar end of things, it's irrelevant what position on the bill
you play. What's important is that you do play. Establishing a
presence on the gig circuit is the thing. We can worry about the fine detail
Dressmaker clearly don't worry about the fine detail. They're all about the big brushstrokes - great splurging sonic splatters of impressionist rocknoise, all intensity and stress. The heavyweight performance is lightened slightly by the singer's disarming goofing beteween songs (and occasionally during them). At one point he pretends to untie the bassist's shoelaces, then falls flat on stage in a parody of the freaked-out rock star. That's Dressmaker for you. Max intensity, but I bet they're secretly grinning up their sleeves.
Some amiable indie rock now, from Climbing
Instant impressions: beardy-hipster guitarist, singer looks a bit like
Jim Carroll. Yes, they sound a bit trad-indie, like those bands I used
to hear years ago on the Janice Long show on Radio One. The
Weather Prophets, the Jasmine Minks - we're in that kind of zone, and it's
not an unpleasant place to be. But after Dressmaker, Climbing Boys can't
help but seem a bit cautious and conventional. Not bad stuff in its way,
but nothing that'll stop you in your tracks, either.
The venue is encouragingly full now, and that, of course, is a good sign for any band. It's a double-good sign for Terminal Gods, because it amply justifies the band's decision to spread their gig-net as wide as possible, rather than sticking with the goth scene.
Let's face it, Terminal Gods could've found a comfortable goth berth, given the band's inescapable debt to the Sisters Of Mercy (they'll grumble at me saying that, but c'mon, guys, listen to yourselves, wouldya).
A drum machine beat
and a baritone vocal, a flavour of Floodland guitars, plus a
neat line in lyrical melodrama pretty much guarantees a certain level of
notoriety in goth circles - and you can ask Star Industry, the Merciful
Nuns, the Merry Thoughts, and umpteen others about that.
But that's not the stuff of which stardom is made. For that, you've got to look outside the goth box. And, looking at the crowd down the front for Terminal Gods, it seems that's where we are right now.
The Terminal Gods barmy army consists of a cross-section
of London's rock 'n' roll underground - for whom, of course, a collection
of drum machinists with an after-dark aesthetic probably counts as something
innovative and cool, rather than a somewhat overcooked archetype.
So here come the Gods, kicking off, rather surprisingly, with a cover of the Velvet Underground's 'White Light, White Heat'. Not a surprising choice (in fact Velvet Underground songs are pretty much what you'd expect Terminal Gods to cover), but it's a bit odd for a band with an extensive repertoire of their own songs to front-load their set with someone else's.
Still, the song stands up well to its assimilation into the TG songbook, and after they've seen it off the band plunge into their own material: barrelling, anthemic rock stompers all, well supplied with mosh-inducing verses and punch-the-air choruses. 'Lessons In Fire' is all crescendos of guitar and enormodome climaxes; 'The Card Player is an apocalyptic power ballad.
There's even another cover to round things
off - the Terminal Gods take on the Undertones'
'Teenage Kicks'. It's incongruous and possibly a little
counter-productive, in that it sends the audience home with the Undertones
in their heads, rather than Terminal Gods, but you can't argue with the stomp
Naturally, everything is delivered with with much showboating and shape-throwing. Terminal Gods have an impressive range of rock 'n' roll poses, from the classic foot-on-the-monitor to an assortment of guitar-as-phallic-object moves, and with any other band you'd expect a certain air of knowing self-parody to prevail.
But I have a strong suspicion that Terminal Gods mean it,
man. And maybe that's the band's secret weapon: in this post-modern world,
where practically everything demands an ironically raised eyebrow and a tacit
acknowledgement that nothing is entirely serious, Terminal Gods are entirely
serious. They're serious about those influences that they wear so unashamedly
on their sleeves, they're serious about the whole loopy business about being
in a rock 'n' roll band in the twenty-first century.
Crazy guys, huh? But they might have the last laugh yet.
Climbing Boys: Facebook
Find a Dressmaker interview here.