Jehst

Jazz Café
17/11/2005

Kung Fu, London’s best hip hop club night, brought about a change of scenery as it upped sticks from the Underworld to bop across the road to the Jazz Café for the first time and boasted a might line up, headlined by the ever-fresh Jehst. Getting in just before The Colony took to the stage proved difficult as the venue was packed to bursting point, but once there the ears were treated to a tight set which included a somewhat controversial ending when Grimlock’s accapella ended in a line about Jamie Bulger. Nonetheless, the crowd were bopping and after some fine time filling by Sarah and Harry Love, Micall Parknsun and Dubble Edge bumped the stage with some nice heavy beats and again, got the crowd head nodding.

But whilst the support were good, and Mystro’s character never dimmed throughout the entire night as he hosted the show, it was nothing to when Billy Brimstone stepped to the stage with Asaviour and DJ IQ. The night was an album launch for his new EP “Nuke Proof Suit” and immediately the bass heavy beat dropped and the necks snapped and heads bounced as Jehst’s typical uncompromising flow showcased his new space-age lyrical content and ability to ride a beat so heavy it felt like we were being transported into the eye of Hurricane Katrina.

Asaviour proved himself to be more than just a hype man, winding his way left and right across the stage, belting out verses of his own, dropping a couple of his own tracks and feeling the beat like no other, with his eyes closed and a never ending bounce in his step. Sir Smurf Lil and Micall Parknsun both jumped on stage for a track to much delight. But four tracks really stood out which took the night to that next level shit. “Hydro Blowback“, one of the cuts on his new erupted from the speakers with an unnerving flow, the bass riding low under his vocals giving it a haunting quality, pushing you into a dark alley, leaving you paranoid and looking over your shoulder. The title track was also a sure fire winner. A stomping cruncher of a beat brought about high pitched yowling samples as Jehst pumped up the club tune making it impossible not to bus’ a move in your own little spot.

The final two tracks were what the crowd were baying for however, as Jehst dropped “People Under The Weather“, the scatting drums and hard snare snaps dragging heads forward and backward. Asaviour’s opening verse killed it immediately, as he showed no let up from his energetic performance before handing it over to Jehst whose river-like flow and delivery left some open mouthed, but most howling in delight. That howling only increased when “High Plains Anthem” finally wound its way to the ear drums, and it was more like a karaoke singalong than a performance, but that only made the atmosphere even better.

The rhymepage primate slammed himself back at the top of the tree after a couple of years out, and on tonight’s performance its going to be Jehst Proof Suits people will need, because this guy’s live set is pure radioactive material.

Sam Hesketh

Exodus

The More I See
The Underworld, London
14.11.05

The More I See feature ex-Prodigy guitarist Gizz Butt on guitar and are the result of Gizz’s misspent youth spent listening to equal parts metal and punk, cutting his teeth in metal inspired punk bands like The Desecrators and English Dogs, he found brief fame as the punk guitarist in the Prodigy during their controversial hit single period, before returning to relative obscurity with melodic punks Janus Stark then seeing a return to a more metal approach with The More I See. And in many ways they are the ideal support band for Exodus tonight as they have their roots firmly set in the eighties thrash metal explosion that tonight’s headliners hail from. It’s a shame that a muted response from a crowd only really interested in the headliners and a seemingly endless succession of technical problems stop the band from really getting into their stride, but for the most part, they play a solid competent set of old school metal thrills.

Exodus were originally formed back in 1982 by guitarist Gary Holt and future Metallica man Kirk Hammet and were one of the most exciting and powerful metal bands of the era, creating one of the genre’s true classics in their debut release ‘Bonded By Blood’ – a record that is twice as vicious and fast as Metallica’s debut and only really bettered by Slayer in the aggression stakes. However, Exodus have had more then their fair share of bad luck over the years and have been plagued by line-up problems and the tragic and sudden death of original singer Paul Baloff in 2002. But this is not a band that will be stopped easily. ‘Certain members decided they’d rather stay home than do this,’ spits an obviously pissed off Gary Holt. ‘But I will never let Exodus die!‘ And from the moment they hit the stage, they play like a band that has never been more alive! Charging straight into their first album’s title track ‘Bonded By Blood‘, the whole venue explodes in waves of energy as the new revigorated and revamped band bark and snap at the front of the stage like rabid pitbulls.

New vocalist Rob Dukes is a real find. A stocky, barking bulldog of a man with a long beard, he wears an expression upon his face that is permanently pissed off and adds even higher levels of visual and aural aggression to Exodus. Combine this with quite breath-taking drumming from ex-Slayer/Forbidden drummer Paul Bastoph and you’ve got a band that lives up to it’s past and hopefully has a healthy future. The proof is in the fact that new songs suck as ‘44 Magnum Opus‘ and ‘Shudder To Think‘ mix effortlessly with older classics like ‘A Lesson In Violence‘ and ‘Toxic Waltz‘ and this is because Exodus have never lost sight of what made them great in the first place and they play and look like they’re enjoying this more than ever. Long may they continue!

JAMES SHERRY

Associated link: www.exodusattack.com

Public Enemy

London, The Forum
16.11.05

They might have been Public Enemy Number 1 fifteen years ago, but today they don’t even make the top fifty most wanted. In hip hop circles, Public Enemy dropped further and further off the radar with every new release after Apocalypse 91 – The Enemy Strikes Back, so it’s no surprise that the Forum’s not even full to half capacity. Seems the kids just don’t care anymore for Chuck D’s rhetoric.

Most of us here don’t care for anything other than the classics, preaching the word to a room full of white, middleclass, 30 something males is like trying to tell a teenage boy if he doesn’t clean his room up, it’s gonna stink worse than his cock. Yeah, whatever. So the numerous, long-winded rants against Bush, Blair and anyone else who has pissed Chuck off recently make for one big yawnathon. As do recent, internet only released cuts like Make Love, Fuck War. In fact, PE’s new material is shit. When once their live shows were one long explosion of hard and fast beats, like some sort of riot on a funk farm, today it is peppered with these slowed down crawls through medoicrity.

Add that to the inclusion of a live band, and you know things are looking bad. Indeed, when they cut away from the hip hop and plumb the depths of rock depravity to give us all a guitar solo that manages to murder Purple Haze (even the worst pub rock band knows not to these days), followed by an interminable bass solo, complete with slap and tickles, you could quite easily be forgiven for tearing your hair out and making a break for the hills.

But that’s only half the story. The other half of the story is made up of some of the fiercest music to ever be spawned that didn’t come from the fret board of a guitar. Behold the power of Welcome To The Terrordome, steel yourself for the aural assualt of Fight The Power, shake that spotty arse to Don’t Believe The Hype. When they come good, Public Enemy show why they are gods, at least in the eyes of the fans here tonight. Classics like these send pulse waves of pleasure over our heads; the stage is like a giant bass bin, you can almost see the sonic boom.

And Public Enemy have, in Flava Flav, the greatest sidekick hip hop has ever known. Imagine if Bez actually had a talent. Now imagine he was black and from New York City and was blessed with a manic hyperactivity and you’re only halfway to the core of Flava. In fact, watching him cavort around the stage like a giant, bouncing banana, you forget that he is also pretty damn handy with the mic, until everyone else fucks off and leaves him to it on the killer 911 Is A Joke. Chuck must recognise that Flav is now the coolest member of the band, since Flava wraps up the evening in true style, blasting the Slayer sampled Channel Zero as the entire PE entourage play at moshing. It’s kinda cute and almost makes up for the whinging when someone throws a plastic beaker onto the stage. “That’s dangerous,” they cry. Oh come on.

Neil Aldis

Photo by Jeanne Ellenby (stolen off the web as cameras were banned from this show)

Bloodhound Gang

Electric Eel Shock
Astoria
09 November 2005

I’ve never seen this venue so full. The night kicks off with an explosive 3-piece Electric Eel Shock, who take no prisoners. These little Japanese guys have the biggest, hardest sound. Think Metallica cross Led Zeppelin. Complete Rock ‘n Roll in the most classic sense~even though they are classified as Garage-Metal. Combined with a fantastic stage performance and a healthy balance of nudity, they played a mental show I would definitely sign up for again. Big hair, big personalities and a healthy dose of originality make them a performance not easily forgotten.

Bloodhound Gang! They start off with some favourites, new tracks from their 2005 ‘Hefty Fine‘ release and, some old classics from ‘Hooray for Boobies‘. And yes, some of the Tesco Essex girls (I never said it-they did!) in the crowd took that quite literally! Every word was sung like it was a mantra. They threw in ‘The ballad of Chasey Lain‘, ‘Along comes Mary‘ and, ‘Hell yeah‘-enough reminiscence to make you feel 16 all over again. Their new album may not be a musical wonder, but their humor and stage antics definitely make it an entertaining show. Jimmy Pop seems to have followed in Steve O’s steps and done course at circus school. It must have been all that time off between their last album release in 2002!

It was all above the belt until Jimmy Pop and Evil Jarred Hasselhoff started spitting in each others mouths. The challenge got so out of hand that the crowd started spitting at bassist until it was dripping off his face. Juicy…no really, there was spit and shoes everywhere! It was a few steps away from a GWAR gig! When that got tired Evil J downed a bottle of Jagermeister, between the well-rehearsed VIP fuck you guys banter. About 30minutes later he puked it all up over Jimmy Pop. It was like watching Jackass and South Park live, while playing instruments to a really bad backing track! Apparently that’s what they do all the time. Its fast becoming a BG trade mark-projectile puking! Their encore was great! They attached drum helmets to their heads, and let their drummer rip into ‘You look pretty when Im drunk’!

Their new album is cheesier, and has a vast amount of dick ‘n’ fart jokes! Their 2005 claim to fame would be Bam Margera’s guest appearance in the music video for ‘Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo‘ ~obviously in true BG style that spells FUCK. That and their petition to get their new track “Pennsylvania” to become the new Keystone State’s anthem! (*see their website for more details-http://www.bloodhoundgang.com) They are definitely worthwhile seeing live. The music becomes secondary to their infantile humor, but heck if the shoe fits… This band is bigger than their music, and hopefully they get roped into a few MTV shows or 2.

Niki Kova’cs

Humanzi

The Automatic
Barfly London
Wed 9th November 2005

So this is where the music industry hang out on a Wednesday night then. Thankfully this show brought out the crème rather than the riff raff, I must have been at the right show after all. Newly signed Welsh act The Automatic had just finished a tour with Hard-Fi which is probably a good starting point to explain influences and sound. This 4 piece have a set full of indie pop with strange lyrics about monsters and rats which slightly confuses me to be honest as a few of the lyrics in this set could be picked straight out of a Super Furry Animals record.

The debut single Recover out this month was left until last as the stand out track in this set and overall their disco indie style fits this latest fashionable craze of danceable guitar music….but will it have the edge to take them further than here, we will wait and see as this is early days for a band that could possibly turn ears in the future.

Humanzi are on the flip side tonight. After hearing their debut single explode across underground radio shows across the UK recently it was always going to be interesting to see if they could pull it off live but they did better than that, they killed it leaving the support bands in the dark. One of the support bands were heard saying “we should just give up now” and although I missed the first 2 bands you would have to get up pretty early in the morning to get one over on this set.

Their energy was like a bolt of instant electricity with the constant thud of beats from drummer Brian Gallagher mixed with an immediate rush of cool from the rest of the band. The combination of driving bass lines, intrinsic guitar thrills and vocalist Shaun Mulrooney’s juggling skills as he strums his fender, cracks at the keyboard and manages to sing with a snarl is something not to miss. Mix the grinding surge of Primal Scream with the Czech influence of Sunshine and you have an idea of the style of play here which is danceable rock and roll at its best. The single Fix the Cracks out on Fiction this month was the stand out track but that’s only because it’s the only track people have had the pleasure to hear, but by the time festival season kick starts again next year, that track may well become an anthem alongside a few others that were played here tonight. Humanzi were spitting from the off and although one of their record company bods pointed out after the show that this was not their best show to date, it makes you wonder what they are capable of on a good night. Expect good things to come.

Zac

Part Chimp

Bullet Union & Comanechi
Cargo, London
31.10.05

It feels like ever since The White Stripes introduced the concept of two-piece rock bands to the world they’ve been coming out of the woodwork with alarming regularity. Death From Above 1979, Winnebago Deal, Lightning Bolt, Grabba Grabba Tape and now Comanechi have all stripped down rock to it’s brittle bare bones, removing any fat and blubber and going right to the core of the music. And while this approach undoubtedly throws new style and sounds into the basic rock formula, you can’t help sometimes thing ‘where’s your mates? Couldn’t you find enough people to form a complete band?’ Take Comanechi for instance. There’s no doubting the fact that they would benefit from having a bass player to pin down their sloppy, flaying noise rock. Tonight they are loud and abrasive and wild but they could be so much better.

In direct contrast, Bullet Union are a tightly sprung coil of energy that instantly explodes across the stage on impact, taking their love of Dischord post-hardcore and San Diego based Hot Snakes/Drive Like Jehu guitar noise and moulding it into something that is very much their own. Tonight they are better than they have ever been. Maybe it’s the fact that they’ve already played one gig earlier tonight and they are still buzzing from the adrenalin but they play with such power and passion that thoughts like ‘this is the best band in London‘ keep flashing through your mind. Right now Bullet Union are on a mission to play as many gigs as possible so expect them to arrive in a town near you soon and don’t miss them.

It’s Halloween tonight and the ghouls are out in force to subject themselves to the horrifying noise that is Part Chimp. They arrive onstage in-front of a screen that pumps out blood and guts images from ‘The Evil Dead’ and the like and proceed to unleash tidal waves of crushing noise that have the less masochistic members of the audience cowering at the back with their fingers in their ears. However, it’s very easy to just focus on how loud Part Chimp are when actually, buried underneath the dense, thick slabs of sound are almost hidden, part whispered melodies and guitar harmonics that show depth and variety in the music that others might miss. Take forthcoming single ‘New Cross‘ for example; while the abrasive volume may stop it bothering the charts and you’re not likely to see Part Chimp on Top Of The Pops just yet, it does hold a killer melodic hook that works against the swirls of noise nicely. And that’s Part Chimp all over. Scratch beyond the surface and you’ll be surprised what you may find.

James Sherry

Soilwork

London Scala
18/10/05

It’ll be a shock – and possibly even a crime – if Danish groove-masters Hatesphere aren’t headlining venues of this size themselves come October 2006. Despite the venue’s sound system having what can only be described as an epileptic fit on crack, the hard hitting quintet waste no time in inflicting whiplash upon the masses with their own unique brand of fist-pumping metal magic; with the likes of ‘The Sickness Within’ and tooth-shattering ‘Murderous Intent’ leaving no spine in tact.

Soilwork may have enjoyed what some consider moderate commercial success in recent times, but there appears to be little evidence that they’re a band keen to escape their past as a result. While curtain-raiser ‘Stabbing The Drama’ provokes scenes of limb-flailing hysteria from the jubilant pit faithful, set staples ‘Figure Number Five’ and ‘The Flameout’ are promptly offered and gratefully received by all; with even the relentless ‘My Need’ from 1998’s ‘Steel Bath Suicide’ debut propping up the set for the somewhat scarce yet well-voiced elitists in attendance.

The gods may not have been smiling on a frankly shocking mix desk this evening, but with an hour-long performance that leaves few grumbling and even fewer standing still, the Swedish sextet ensure that almost everybody leaves doing just that.

3/5
Ryan Bird

Nine Black Alps

Giant Drag
Camden-Electric Ballroom
1 November 2005

Electric Ballroom. The venue verdict-always rad, but if I see anyone wearing stripes for a while I’m gonna hurl! What is it with Camden and friggin stripes. TopShop Capitalism has spread into punk-rock! When I 1st arrived there was a 1 piece giving it all he had on stage…so I hit the bar. I still have no idea who he was or if he was actually supposed to be there?!

Opening for Nine Black Alps is Giant Drag. This was different…very different. In fact so refreshing, for a minute I thought they would completely steal the show. It’s an unassuming 2 piece with the drummer playing-*get this*-drums AND keyboards at the same fucking time!!! If you pay close enough attention you will notice it ain’t just any old melody he is conjuring up on the keyboard-the guy was coordinating the entire bass-line while simultaneously playing the drums. Neither drums or bass suffered the consequences either. The quirky singer seems cute-in a 17yr old innocent girl kinda way, but she has the sweetest, sexiest voice that just fills an entire room in a Hole-Mazzy Star-Juliette and the Licks kinda way. The contradiction of their low-profile image on stage vs. their lyrics was the highlight as they hit off with “You fuck like my Dad”. They pulled it off with humor, elegance and most importantly have been the most un-pretentious band I have seen in a long, long, very very long time. Ok, I’ll admit Annie (lead singer) is probably certifiable, but you cant put a price on humor. Its so annoying seeing a band that takes themselves too seriously. They even finished off with taking a photo of the crowd *how sweet*. With such a great sound from such a budding band it is no wonder they sold out of EVERY single demo CD. Its pretty new, so hopefully it will hit retail pretty damn soon, cause I’m dying for a copy!

Nine Black Alps are up next. The venue starts flooding. Not sure where the heck they came from but it filled up within minutes. The local Manchester group kicks off with some top hits from their new album. Everyone was going mad with teenage angst! It’s the kind of gig that makes you feel old if you are over 12! None-the-less they were so damn good I even forgot which song they played first, last, 7th-who cares, they completely rocked!!! Their sound filled the room with a clean Nirvana reminiscent sound. A lot of their songs sounded better live than off their CD’s.

It’s not a new or revolutionary sound, lets be honest, but they still pull of a commercial sound with their own personalized flair. It was a good mix of full-blown rock, acoustic, melodic and finally a mass explosion of sound leaving no songs left to play for an encore. The guitarist and bass-player were showing off by swapping roles, and proved they can pull off each song effortlessly no matter where they landed up in the order of things. While NBA pull of each subtle flavour, I get the feeling that they are still searching for a sound to grow into. Judging from their live performance, once they find their unique path their will be no stopping them! Clearly they are a versatile band that we can expect great things from in the future…but the fact that the gig sold out in a well sized venue is word enough!

Niki Kova’cs

Lady Sovereign

ICA, London
31/10/05

“Aww, look how cute I am. Touch the Sov, touch the Sov!” shouted the diminutive MC as she stared at her run of looped videos filling up the giant screen behind her drummer. After tonight’s showing, it seems that everyone wants to get a bit of Sovereign, as she drew a crowd from all parts of the music spectrum – indie kids, grime kids, rockers and even a seventy year old granddad in shorts – but they were all united in amazement as Sov took them on a punk rock ride through old and new.

DJ Cameo opened the night by dropping some grime anthems to get the crowd warmed up, mixing in Kano’s “Ps & Qs” with Crazy Titch’s “Singalong” and blasting out the Mizz Beats remix of Sov’s latest single “Hoodie”. He was soon joined on stage by JME and Spekta who rinsed verse after verse of hard hitting rhymes over bass lines that defied the crowd’s digestive systems. After a good set of back and forth rapping, a solitary verse by Tinchy Stryder and the non-appearance of Wiley [who sat at the side of the stage for the duration], JME departed telling everyone it was time for the S. O. Veeee.

She took her time coming out but after her DJ had dropped a few bangers and her band strode out to get the party started, Sov appeared in a garish orange tracksuit sporting a Chucky mask, leaving us in no doubt what time of year it was. As soon as she’d taken it off though she was right up at the front of the stage and let the guitar kick in as she reeled off the massive old skool Sov cuts of “Blah Blah” and “Random”. The live band made a big difference to the songs and got the crowd moving in time with her movements, as she showed a seamless energy slicing through the beats with her high pitched distinctive touch.

The crossover hit “9 to 5” was next and the bouncy bass had everyone dancing without abandon before she hit us with some more older songs, the fantastic “Tango”, which asks what network you’re on, what’s your favourite colour and telling us she knows what our favourite fruit is, the Jentina-diss “Sad Ass Strippa” which she claimed laid to rest that grudge as she was moving on to Jessica Simpson next, and “Broom” which she said was a result of her knocking someone over with, you guessed it, a broom.

She finished with three new songs, “My England” had arms waving as she declared that we’re not all posh like the queen, her new single “Hoodie” which looks to be even bigger than her previous effort and the punk-laced “Public Warning”. Ordinarily, no grime MC could bring off songs like that, but the heavy crunching guitar and snapping snare allowed her to create an atmosphere unlike one you’d see at a rave, and would more likely see down the local rock venue.

Sov has also learnt how to handle the crowd. When I first saw her she didn’t know how to fill the time between songs, but this time round she had clearly mastered the art, getting a burping competition going, coming face to face with a girl in a gorilla suit and trying, unsuccessfully, to do a flick with a beer can. If anyone can save the hoodie, as she’s planning to take on Blair & co to do, its her. After tonight’s performance, everyone was in no doubt she’s got what it takes to go a long, long way. She is indeed, as she puts it, the biggest midget in the game, and we’d have it no other way.

Sam Hesketh

The Magic Numbers

Shepherds Bush Empire
19th October 2005

What a difference a year can make. A year ago The Magic Numbers were just entering the studio to record their debut album, enjoying an ever growing cult following playing low key shows. Fast forward 12 months and the band have played every major festival, supported Brian Wilson, played a sold out tour of the UK and had their eponymous debut album nominated for the Mercury Music Award. Not bad for two sets of siblings from West London. Fronted by Romeo Stoddard, flanked by his sister Michele on bass, Sean Gannon on drums and his sister Angela (melodica and vocals), the ‘Numbers have been described as the feel good band of the year, combining a laid back west coast Mamas and Papas vibe (by the by the Mamas and Papas were once known as ‘The Magic Circle), and beautifully penned songs of love, heartache and loss.

As the lights drop in the Empire and the backdrop lights up the crowd seems to swell in anticipation, the roar that greet the band is deafening, and the band seem genuinely taken back by their reception. Tracks like ‘Love Me Like You‘, forthcoming single ‘Love’s a Game‘, and ‘Don’t Give Up The Fight‘ are sung back word perfect, album tracks have new life breathed into them on stage, Romeo’s one line quips to his sister and the genuine warmth you can feel rolling off the stage is enough to raise a smile of even the most sceptical audience members. Angela’s vocals on ‘I See You, You See Me’ brings goosebumps to your arms, clear lines sung back to Romeo. “I never wanted to love you, but that’s ok. I always knew that you’d leave me anyway..”..The songs border on melancholy, a great love lost but not forgotten, but it’s the upbeat turns and twists, that make the crowd’s spirits soar. The lyrics might be of heartbreak, but the hooks and chorus tell a different story.

A live version of their track recorded with The Chemical Brothers’ ‘Close Your Eyes‘ adds another string to their bow, ‘Gone are the Days‘ which was recorded for the Warchild album is a stunningly simple arrangement, whilst ‘Forever Lost’ has the crowd dancing, and looking around the packed venue, there are grins on every face in there, not least of the face of Romeo and Michelle’s father, standing proudly in the middle of the crowd, watching his children.

Their take on Beyonce’s ‘Crazy in Love‘ is nothing short of genius, ‘Mornings Eleven‘ introduces Anne Harrie on violin and her brother of harpsichord, bringing moments of poignancy and tenderness to the set, girls in the crowd appear misty eyed, but just as the tempo drops The Webb Brothers lope out on stage for a deafening rendition of ‘Wheels on Fire’, the harmonies soaring off the stage and under your skin.

As the last track ‘ The Beard Song‘ soars onwards and upwards, faster and faster, you can’t help but get lost in the music, the guitars soaring higher and higher, pounding off the stage and washing over you. All too often bands are hyped as the best new band, , sold to you as your new favourite band, and all too often, one foot out of the studio, the initial buzz wears off and it’s clear they’re not all that. But for The Magic Numbers, everything they say..well it’s true. Try as you might, there is simply no denying that these gracious, humble West London kids have really got something special, and with the nights drawing in and the cold winter upon us, they are the perfect ray of warmth, who needs Prozac when we’re got The Magic Numbers?

For further info check out www.themagicnumbers.net

Dee Massey