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Chamber posterVile Imbeciles
The Gaa Gaas
Screaming Banshee Aircrew
Cold In Berlin
Stavin' Chains

Chamber @ New Cross Inn, London
Friday July 2 2010


There's footy on the telly. That means we've all got to wait.

The elevation of football to godlike status in contemporary British society - to the point where a televised football match becomes an all-important ritual that Must Not Be Interrupted By Anything Ever - means that all five bands and tonight's gig crowd have to hang around aimlessly outside the New Cross Inn until, eventually, the giant TV screen inside is folded away, and we're graciously allowed to get on with the gig.

Shouting and bashing and making a noise like Test Department and The Birthday Party fighting in a Berlin Basement, Stavin' Chains are ragged but tight post-rock racketeers. At times their rumpus touches base with the structures of ye olde rock 'n' roll; mostly, it doesn't, much. It's rhythmic and insistent and it just keeps on going. There's a percussionist bashing away at a beer keg, while the bassist gives his three strings a good seeing-to. These days, when half the bands in the post-punk zone seem to be doing some sort of variation on the theme of 'angular', it's good to see a band that  pushes it further. Stavin' Chains unceremioniously hammer their tent pegs into the left field, and dare us to tell 'em they can't set up camp.

Originally billed as headliners, Cold In Berlin play early - someone's got a bus to catch, or something. Stretching her arms out towards the audience as if contemplating a swallow-dive onto the floorboards, vocalist Maya exudes angst and energy in equal measures. On 'God I Love You' she becomes downright desperate as she tries to convince herself that a doomed relationship is still going strong, while the band plonks their feet on the accelerator and hurtles the song towards the cliff edge.

That's what Cold In Berlin are about: a rush to the edge of danger, a heedless dance on the brink of a long drop. Their songs are fast, rattling things, and Maya's personification of restless dread - jumping off stage and stalking the audience, clutching at Stavin' Chains, Cold In Berlin, Screaming Banshee Aircrewher face as if she's just seen something ghastly in her mind's eye - becomes downright disturbing after a while. I find myself wondering if I should be worried about her, even as I'm grooving to the band's sliced-up, staccato bursts of song.

And now, for one last time in London, the Screaming Banshee Aircrew.

The band are splitting up, and although that might seem like a counter-intuitive move - they've only just started making some headway with the twenty-first century new wavers that are probably their best chance of a substantial audience - it's not necessarily a bad thing to quit while you're still on the up, and leave a legend behind.

So, here they come, glammy and theatrical, Mister Ed clutching his bespoke light-up microphone stand like a staff of office as he swoops and staggers about the stage. Injecting a bit of rock 'n' roll glam-swagger into a musical area mainly characterised by stripped-down new-wavism is the Screaming Banshee Aircrew's (almost) unique selling point (Ulterior, I think, are on a similar tip). But there's no denying it's effective. The band are all drama and turbulence, from 'The Midst Of Crowds' - in which the band uncereminiously bash on the Bauhaus door - to the tribal clang and clatter of 'Omission' . Interestingly, these are new songs, which indicate that whatever the reasons behind the band's split, lack of ideas wasn't a problem. Maybe there's a hint there as to what might be coming next.

The Gaa GaasThe Gaa Gaas must rue the day a certain Stefani Germanotta decided to put on a wacky dress and strut her stuff on stage: they'll be forever in the shade of their considerably more famous (almost) namesake.

The Gaa Gaas don't deal in wacky dresses, although there's a bit of panda-esque eye makeup in evidence for added showbiz razzle-dazzle. The band is a garagey trio, all messed-up guitars and angsty wailing, like The Cure if they'd emerged from CBGB in New York rather than a pub in Crawley.

The Gaa Gaas's line in punky ripped-up-ness isn't at all bad, and they play with plenty of verve an conviction - they mean it, maaan. Although their songs don't quite pass the lodge-in-the-brain test (at least, not in my brain), you can't fault the noise.

Last time I saw Vile Imbeciles, they were doing a kind of Birthday Party-ish thing. Well, we've already had our dose of Birthday Party-ish things tonight, courtesy of Stavin' Chains, so perhaps it's appropriate that Vile Imbeciles have shifted their musical ground somewhat.

They've lightened up a bit, and now seem to be heading towards the angular-indie zone: the rhythms stop and start and the guitars are meticulous and never get too uppity. As practitioners of the angular art, Vile Imbeciles are pretty convincing, but as their set progresses I'm assailed by a nagging feeling that I've seen another band - somewhere, sometime - doing something similar. Eventually it hits me: Vile Imbeciles have mutated into a slightly more geometric version of Shitdisco. And that, I think, is my cue to get a night bus home.

Vile Imbeciles

Vile Imbeciles:

The Gaa Gaas:

Screaming Banshee Aircrew:
| MySpace

Cold In Berlin:

Stavin' Chains:
Website | MySpace


For more photos from this gig, find the bands by name here.

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