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X-Ray EyesX-Ray Eyes
Punk, London
Monday July 30 2007



London might be a throbbing rock 'n' roll city, and W1 might be the throbbing-est part of it. But it's still not easy to get a crowd into a central London club on a Monday night. To encourage passers-by to step through its authentically dark and enticing Soho doorway, Punk offers free entry to all comers on a Monday night. Even that isn't enough to pack the place, but nevertheless a motley crowd of chancers, dancers, drinkers and stinkers has assembled tonight to witness the ramshackle glory that is X-Ray Eyes.

DJ duo the Daughters Of Hendrix keep it garagey and tangental. 'I Can't Hardly Stand It' by The Cramps, a song in which Lux Interior more or less hiccups into an echo chamber, gives way to 'The Siamese Cat Song', Disney's excursion into the downright weird. At last, people appear on stage and start picking up instruments and plugging things in. This doesn't take long. X-Ray Eyes are about as minimalist as a band can be while still being a band. Bass, drums, vocals, and that's your lot. On this occasion Andrew from The Violets is on those drums (the band's regular drummer having experienced a bizarre gardening accident, or something), but Nuclear Ray is toting the bass as usual, while Chemical X is on vocals and falling over. Tonight Ms X (or can I call her Chemical?) is wearing what look like brand new high heels. 'We are X-Ray Eyes,' she remarks in tones of great disdain, 'and nothing's changed.' This band is not in the business of giving the audience good-humoured jolly-ups, that's for sure. They regard the world through such jaundiced eyes I'm sure everything must appear tinted yellow to them.

X-Ray EyesThe bass guitar grinds out its low-life rumble. The drums kick the songs along while keeping everything under control. Chemical X intones the words in her voice of looming doom, wandering vaguely around the stage as if she's out to Lydia Lunch. The racket X-Ray Eyes make sounds like the Shangri-Las as produced by Nick Cave. On drugs. With a hangover. But notwithstanding the band's deliberate un-poptasticness, there's something that appeals in the way they articulate their attitude to the sound of a thumping, bass-heavy rhythm. Their grumbling, rumbling, down-in-the-basement sound may be the absolute antidote to glitter-pop, but who needs that shiny stuff when you can get a good old low-life stomp on? Chemical X kicks off her shoes, falls over the monitors, and launches into a stream of conciousness rant, mostly concerning tampons, like a cross between Kathy Acker and Eddie Izzard. 'I use organic tampons,' she informs us, a case of Too Much Information if ever there was one. 'Not like the Daughters Of Hendrix, who like spiked gothic tampons...' And the crowd laughs uneasily, not sure whether they should express humour or horror. The set grinds and tumbles to a conclusion - the band don't so much bring things to a climax as simply skid into the crash-barrier.
X-Ray Eyes: a fine anti-pop group, and probably the most fun you can have in London for free on a Monday night.

Essential links:

X-Ray Eyes: MySpace

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


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