Photos by Kevin Percival
Walking into the Smithfield, I didn’t know what to expect. Locals sparsely filled the bar with an inaudible prepubescent DJ, playing a selection of his dads CD’s. But luckily for you, that’s not why I was there; otherwise, this review would be tediously boring - with me trying to decipher whether that DJ was a clever piece of performance art or not.
No, I was there for what was going on above the bar, in a small and cosy function room. I’ve come to prefer DIY gigs; the laser shows and revolving flaming wheels of death don’t really do it for me anymore. There’s always something humble about them and it’s simply about the reason why anyone attends gigs in the first place; music obviously. So with the surroundings accustomed and a beer in my hand, I settled down into the night.
Worth a mention, but not the bill, was the drum and bass duo consisting of Eyeball Eyeball’s guitarist. This funky, jazzy little number got the evening off on a nice foot first as the seamless improvisation bounced through basslines with a heavy groove and drum passages filled with scatterings of motorik and light jazz throughout.
Left with a head full of dizzying funk melodies to hum along too, a table with all manner of noise making apparatus was now pushed center forward, and when the singer of Makakarooma Crudongalong spat onto a black and white photocopy of a supermodel, quickly brought me hurtling back to reality and away from my funk odyssey. This was a bleak reality I found, as he then began call out like some kind of dystopic rag and bone man, and the bassist turned up the volume to eleven. This was a spectacle to watch, awash with analog filth, pounding tribalistic drums and overdriven bass rhythms. An auditory perverse act was taking place in front of me and I was enjoying it. The singer’s distorted wails and moans seem to punctuate him punishing the table and moving it throughout the small function room; occasionally, leaping onto it in an explosion of primal energy.
Though, people could argue with me for hours about whether this is music or not, I’d feel that they’d missed the point with Makakarooma Crudonalong and instead should just shut up and allow themselves to be sonically violated for 20 minutes; that’d teach them.
In the wake of that violent episode, Diamond took to the corner of the room, which, I will affectionately call the “stage”. This Birmingham home brew of spazz, grind and disco ignites in short, spastic passages of equal technicality and brutality. Their energy is what grips you most - lead singer Nathan James Coyle spins and pivots round the room, screaming and shouting incessantly, whilst drummer, Bruce Goodenough, feverishly pounds out blistering blast beats switching to downtempo grooves. Lace this package up with tight guitars and bass, and you’ve got a band that plays hard and fast, and are equally as entertaining. Despite some technical issues, I can quite comfortably say that they brought their own unique breed of spazzcore to Stoke-on-Trent on this rainy Friday night and left a lasting impression on the crowd there.
Headlining was Eyeball Eyeball, a band, which contains members of former Stoke based band Spy vs Spy. This band is very hard to describe, except from maybe a progressive psychedelic implosion, which occurs in your central nervous system and disseminates through your body like a shuddering space-time singularity.
Perhaps that isn’t a very good explanation but if you saw them, you would understand. I became utterly lost in their riffage and the incredible free form drumming – it was almost like a re-education in the many ways you can play the standard snare, kick, tom, crash and hihat setup. The sections are so freeform yet tightly structured that you have no idea where it will go next and yet, you feel a strange psychic premonition dawning on you, without of course, trying to second guess it. I write this review a few days after the event and I still have one of their riffs whirring around my head as if it were some kind of mind worm that had bored into my cerebral cortex and has been singing quietly ever since. See, my very strange analogy makes a little more sense now, doesn’t it?