Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Wrongpop 20 @ Fat Cats Mauskramp / M.S. Thomason / Amateur Assassins / Bad Guys

Review by Charlotte Lunt

Image courtesy of Wrongpop

Last night saw the long awaited return of Wrongpop after its 5 month hiatus and now re-housed at the Pussy Boutique (Fat Cats). With many familiar faces it was good to see more than a few new one’s in attendance, indicative both of the quality of the night’s acts and the allegiance that Wrongpop has.

The evening’s proceedings were more than appropriately kicked off by Mauskramp and their self defined “bad tempered rock ‘n’ roll”. With instantly infectious beats provided by John Matley and the distorted guitars of Richard Underwood and Dave Hamer, they have a sound reminiscent of the influential electronica of 80’s producer Daniel Miller. Sounding simultaneously minimal yet complex they seem to a band where ‘showing the working out’ is as important as the answer, and there is clearly an element of perfectionism in their music. Mauskramp could not be accused of producing light-hearted music and they definitely pack a punch with an atmospheric mesmerising performance, which was savoured by the assembled audience.

Next up was the local hero M.S. Thomason who performed his debut album ‘Under the Birch tree’ in its entirety. Taking to the stage and asking unnecessarily for the audience’s patience he began ‘We were kings’. As always Matt played a stunning set, with each track being enthusiastically received by the audience. Relaxing into the performance and counting down the songs he gave the impression of this being a slightly cathartic marathon, and yet every step was relished by those listening. Finishing with ‘Perfect little Soul’, and leaving the stage to cheers and shouts for more, there was a definite glimpse of accomplishment and rightly so. Speaking to Matt later in the evening he confirmed that this was indeed the last outing for some of these songs so if you want to listen to them, I strongly recommend you buy a copy of his album.

Proving that one of Wrongpop’s trademarks is eclecticism, Amateur Assassins stepped up with an eye opening and ear popping show. Offering irregular stop-start rhythms at the hands of drummer Mike Walsh and the disembodied vocals of Mark Walsh, they are the polar opposite of the previous set. Their second song ‘I will crucify you’ is introduced with tongue firmly in cheek as “our religious song” and is delivered with barking snarling vocals and a somewhat possessed display by Mark. Amateur Assassins music appears to walk a knife edge, which at points makes me question whether this is meticulously rehearsed, or improvised, neither of which would be a bad thing. After a brief moment of re-composure the band launch onto their last number which is more insular in performance with all members facing each other, until the climax to their set was the smashing of a guitar.

Hugely anticipated and hyped band ‘Bad Guys’ were the night’s headliners. Being famed for trashing venues, making unscheduled performances and generally living up to their name, there was a distinct feeling of anticipation and trepidation as their set got underway to their own chants of “bad guys, bad guys”. With vocalist Stu pacing like a caged lion in front of the stage and guitarists PJ and Dave providing a visual spectacle on the stage wearing trademark spandex leggings and sweat bands, they delivered an onslaught of raw punk noise. Clearly this is a band whose stage show is as important as their music, as they walked into the crowd, rolled around on the floor, climbed on drum kits and almost assumed alter-egos. At one point Stu performed a song whilst sitting on the shoulders of the evening’s promoter Steve Clarke.

Although some would argue that they are ‘keeping it real’, the performance seemed slightly contrived, and they are either a very cleverly constructed parody of the stereotypes that abound in the music scene or they are truly a post modern sensation. Having said that their set was over all too soon, possibly due to an earlier altercation in the proceedings, and as they left the stage there seemed to be feelings of confusion and dismay, and many conversations sparked about what we had just witnessed.

With such a rollercoaster of an evening, and even though in more glamorous surroundings Wrongpop has in the space of a few short hours reminded us what we’ve been missing and most definitely come crashing back to it’s rightful place within the local scene.

It’s good to have it back.

Amateur Assassins
Bad Guys

1 comment:

Terribleone said...

it certainly was food for thought, i don't think stoke has had a band like Bad guys comin through since i was about 15 and the Wheatsheaf was open, maybe everyones forgotten what happens at a rock n roll show. I don't think it was anymore contrived than "smashing up a guitar" All bands are contrived by pre writing and rehearsing songs (How dare they!)
It looked like they meant every minute it of it to me. I for one didn't know what was going to happen next and enjoyed every minute of it including the near altercation with a very self important heckler which almost ruined proceedings (no names). Whether people liked it or not, its certainly the most provocative & honest thing i've seen in a long time. Long live Wrongpop, thank god someones sticking their neck out in Stoke for live music.