(this was a review I did in november that never found a home – I dont think, correct me if you've seen it before)
Anything short of stunning and the name 'Fucked Up' would be a spindly teenage middle finger of pathetic unfocused rage. Fortunately the band that has that particular name bring the stunning with aplomb.
A wet Thursday night in Birmingham is a dispiriting as it sounds, and walking the far end of Digbeth in the rain had better be worth the trip.
It was almost a religious experience. Allow me too explain.
The first band Them Wolves, made a promising start, I mean you know you're in for a good gig when the drummer starts limbering up with the focus intensity of a Korean Weightlifter. The guitars kicked in with squelching guitar noises and the strong back line drove the music forward and exploded into the chorus's. The guitars would pitch and roll, building to these crescendos. The drums laying a solid foundation for the fuzz riffs that emerge out of the noise like the demon faces in TV static.
At its loudest, Them Wolves seem like unrelenting juggernaut metal done right, loud enough to cause the singer to throw his earplugs out with disdain before launching into his vocals that sound like the familiar screams of someone being tortured in the next corridor of hell. At their most reflective they can have the distorted landscape quality of Kruatrock bands like Einstellung.
At this point I went to the bar to drink over-priced rum, so I missed most of the Fair-os so it would be unfair-o to say I didn't enjoy them. They both wore hats in a way that annoyed me and performed with a self satisfied smile to their mouths. Maybe its because they sounded like a heavier Vampire Weekend that made me dislike them. The music improved many-fold when they decided to let their balls swing a bit and play something with sack but this wasn't often.
'Go fuck yourselves' they said as they walked off stage, which would have been a quite rock and roll thing to do if everyone in the place wasn't thinking exactly the same thing of them.
The members of Fucked up took the stage and in a line started to play a building guitar refrain, but some guy wandered on stage after a minute or so, picking up a mic and winding the lead around. Of course because he had a hat on I presumed he was a member of the Fair-os being a complete tool-end and picking up his shit while the next band were playing. Little did I know this was Pink Eyes, one of the most charismatic front men I have ever seen on stage. With his hat and full beard he kinda looks like a character in the game Guess Who? except almost instantly he took his top off, which would add an interesting element to the game not least of all the chance to ask the question 'Does your person look like a friendly but inexplicably hairy dolphin?'.
The music was fierce and loud, in some places quite poppy but better for it, and shades of The Pixies when Sandy Miranda added backing vocals to Pink eyes hardcore growl. The crowd, starting off with some light jostling, but soon degenerating into a tiny but ferocious mosh. The crowd were bringing it, so I was surprised when Pink Eye screamed 'Bring It' and even more surprised when the crowd embrungend it more.
The tempo of the songs increased, looking over at the drummer the sticks were strobing and Pink Eye waded into the crowd, as he passed people wanted to hug him, which he was happy to do, and some people wanted just to touch him. A tiny odd part of my brain thought about how his skin must be really well exfoliated with all the sweating and rubbing before another speed metal-esqe freakout kicked in and blasted all thoughts out of my head.
The crowd loved it, and him. He was screaming with and for the crowd for the most part, not at or despite of, which can be the case. There was a real feeling of warmth, a sense of community. If old classic metal is the Church Of Satan, theatrics, costume, a deference to the classic texts of Iron Maiden and Slayer. Then this is something new, a friendlier more relaxed but no less passionate Anglican version of the same faith albeit delivered by a man who looks like Zangief from Street-fighter 2 with five metres of microphone cord wrapped around his head while his flock slam dance in front of him.