Saturday, October 24, 2009


Cloud City, Brunswick

Tonight's show - being a benefit for the venue - is, for the most part, happily free of much of the 'it's just a benefit gig not a real gig' slackness that can mar nights like this. In fact, it's a furnace of artistic expression warming those that gather here in a black Brunswick backwater surrounded by cold darkness and pouring rain. Being a benefit for soundproofing, loudness is the order of the night.

Grey Skulls have little in common with the He-Man reference that may first spring to mind. Unless you're wondering what an audio collage of fights between he and Skeletor may sound like rammed through several distortion pedals and an array of processors until mutilated beyond recognition. Largely formless in structure, the Grey Skulls take improvisation away from any VCA art school discussion and bend it to the harsher mentalities of industrial minimalism. Robert pounds a guitar, another feedbacks behind him, Bonnie operates a board of pedals, effects and filters, and the sound is huge. Less rock than their more common guise as part of Grey Daturas, Grey Skulls seem more like an experimental side project but one inadverdantly done for the right reasons; if just one of these all-ages' minds is opened a little further, the job is done.

An announcement from one of Cloud City's organisers informs us that a 'fuckhead landlord' has given them a month to vacate, though the gigs already booked will go ahead. This incredibly unfortunate announcement only serves to rally the troops and pulls another killer performance from My Disco, masters of the deconstruction of deconstructed rock. Sounding something akin to a train crash that lasts for 45 minutes, their eight song set features much new and unnamed material, most of it instrumental and - if possible - even more machinistic and less human (though no less humane) than before. Opening track 001 pulvarises those not standing stoutly and though silence is used to great effect (particularly as it is filled with the pattering of rain when punters aren't going 'wooo'), nothing can compete with the sheer sternum-shaking muscle of Liam Andrews' (literally) metal bass or Rohan Rebiro's mighty reverse-stick drumming. Despite this, it's hard not to have your attention arrested by Ben Andrew's atonal guitar squalls. Hilariously, for a band so utterly tightly wound, Rohan is overheard saying to Ben "just make it up." That there is room for improvisation amongst a band so sharp is refreshing. With the fully-formed strength of Perfect Protection My Disco show what they are capable of when building a song, it's the shards of instrumentation that are pushed tonight, and they are just as compelling.

The Groundies, adorned variously in tracky dacks and a Goons Of Doom t-shirt, single-handedly bring the party atmosphere to tonight's show. Opening with An Eye For A Brow there are enough folk in the crowd singing along to know that the vibe is turning here, though audience numbers dwindle. The punters are fairly tame tonight, maybe that's what all ages shows are like now, but it turns out few can dance to My Disco and most are content just to watch Joe McGuigan bash his guitar and the band to bellow party anthem after anthem. Though a new song sees them pick up the pace for a bit, they are sounding (and looking) more mid-70s pub rock (which is an irredeemably shit thing to sound like) than ever before, which is a shame given the talent on board. But with by-the-numbers riffs and half-hearted 'La-De-Da-De-De' choruses it's a relief that the cops show up and they're given one song (predictably The Dark Side Of Dallas) before shutdown. This is when the death disco begins, the crowd thins out, and Khia takes it up another notch.

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