I am writing this whilst currently laid up in bed with a doctor’s diagnosis of ‘probable kidney infection’ and a Master’s dissertation on the topics of the internet migration, uneven development in world literature (where I’m specifically looking at the writer Wei Hui and the work of the artist Liu Yang) and postsocialism/the state of late-capitalism in semi-peripheral nations, that is due in two weeks time. I am therefore, spending my time writing a gig review because I’m in rather a lot of pain and it seems like a concession to working on something that requires more focus. I still can’t quite shake the feeling that unless I’m actually really on my death bed that there’s nothing I can’t do. I mean I can’t walk independently right now because my lower back and abdominal pain is so very very bad but I can still type in between bouts of “OWWWWWs”. But enough sympathy seeking from me, you want to hear about music right? Henceforth, to Thursday 18 October and the Menace Beach, Pet Crow and Mighty Kids gig in which I spent most of my time bent over and out of sorts, still unsure what on earth my body was doing.
Mighty Kids are a pop outfit in an age where pop is a dirty word. Their sound is so damn clean, if you bottled it, you would surely be presented with a miracle liquid for the removal of stains and not just any stains, crust-punk stains, I saw no crust-punks around at all whilst they played and I mean this was at the Hairy Dog! Perhaps this was why the place was suddenly decked out with a fancy new carpet, the Mighty Kids assured them that if they put one down, they’d have no more trouble with ragamuffins throwing their beer around if only they make them an in-house band.
There is something really modern about their music, when I say pop, I don’t mean pop as in S-Club 7 or 5ive, this isn’t music that’s about “bangerz” and making it onto a Now Hits compilation, it is much more sophisticated than that. Newman’s vocal style, a sweet, high-pitched, harmonic sounding blend that she seems to omit so naturally, really turns this outfit into dream-pop.
Mighty Kids are an indie teen-movie soundtrack waiting to happen, or perhaps they’d play a prom scene in which two awkward youngsters dance together whilst the camera captures their self-deprecating glances and half-smiles. The set did take a darker turn towards the end with one particular track I failed to catch the name of, that sounded a like a filmic representation of the beginning of an acid trip. The synths got really chunky and heavy and all of a sudden I was kicked out of dream-land and into the inferno, as with all hellish things being rather fun though, I’d say this was my favorite track they played that night.
You may know Pet Crow as an alternative rock band, not anymore they’re full goth now, turns out the Crow part of their name was inspired by that film The Crow and really they’ve just been biding their time to relinquish this truth upon the masses. I jest of course, the goth joke was made by the band in light of the awareness that they’d all donned dark colours for the evening with no prior consultation.
Energy and forthrightness seems to be the mutual point of agreement for Pet Crow, whilst it is a collective effort, every member fiercely holds their own, tonight it is Ross’ vocals stand out as they echo across the half empty room. Whilst the atmosphere at the Dog was certainly more than a little flat, the sound engineers really did justice into ensuring quality was provided in this sense.
I have seen Pet Crow play a few times, they’re always brilliantly tight but on this occasion Ross’ vocals sounded stronger than ever, iconic even, like a breathier Shirley Manson surrounded by more reverb. Ending the set with my favourite song Absorbed, containing blood-curdling screams that accompany the chorus’ menacing lyrics ‘why won’t you talk to me? I’ll make you talk eventually’, tonight Pet Crow prove that alongside the right bit of button-pushing they are a bigger band than they believe themselves to be.
Menace Beach are the headliners tonight, they set up two synth decks in opposition for shared male and female vocals to take centre stage, guitar to the left, bass to the right and drums at the back. Visual projections are played in the background, spiral effects and whatnot that add a fun, sort of mad scientist, Twilight Zone vibe. Part of me wishes they would embrace this full weirdness and perhaps churn out something like a grunge Devo meeting the Beach Boys but they’re not quite this weird and perhaps that’s a Frankenstein’s monster idea that is probably best left unexplored anyway.
This is some fine indie/garage-rock in which Needham’s drawled lyrics add a tinge of authenticity to, there’s a gritty realness that this contributes to the otherwise technical set-up, it’s a underlying sharp as a knife wit that constantly reiterates ‘I’m under no illusion’ and ‘no working-class traitors here’, and it’s this unifying quality that conveys they’re in it for the right reasons.
At one point the guitarist is introduced and plays the song Hypnotiser Keeps the Ball Rolling from the band’s latest album release Black Rainbow Sound (presumably inspired by the cult-film Beyond the Black Rainbow?) that really is worthy of note, its around three minutes of suave, swaggering, perfectly-composed, surfy Cramps-inspired, rock n’ roll goodness, sung in the vein of Fred Schneider from The B52’s, that really leaves you clamoring for more. (I have since discovered this song on Youtube and have basically had it on repeat for three days). This, alongside the band’s catchy-as-heck released single Tennis Court, are the highlights of the set on this fine eve.
Find Mighty Kids:
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