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Terminal Gods flyerTerminal Gods
Climbing Boys
Dressmaker

Barfly, London
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 later.

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.

Dressmaker / Climbing Boys

Some amiable indie rock now, from Climbing Boys. 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.
Terminal Gods
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 Terminal Godslittle 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 factor.

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.

 

Terminal Gods: Website | Facebook

Climbing Boys: Facebook

Dressmaker: Website | Facebook

For more photos from this gig, find Terminal Gods and Dressmaker by name here.

Assorted Terminal Gods releases are reviewed here.

Find a Dressmaker interview here.

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

Words and photos in Nemesis To Go by Michael Johnson are licenced under Creative Commons. You may copy and distribute this material, or derivations of it, provided that you give a credit to Michael Johnson and a link to Nemesis To Go. Where material from other sources is used, copyright remains with the original owners. All rights in the name 'Nemesis To Go' and the 'N' logo are retained.