Thursday, 29 December 2011

Lucky 13 @ Koko...

//The Stool Pigeon// recently heard about a guy who threw a party — quite the success, apparently — to celebrate his 10,000th day on the planet. As contrived birthday celebrations go, 13th isn't quite so pedantic — but is it a good enough reason to bring people out on a Wednesday evening?

Founders of Memphis Industries, brothers Matt and Ollie Jacob, deserve the festivities, don't they? Managing to stay independent for five minutes in the modern music industry is no small feat: still being there after 13 is pretty special, to say the least. And it shows in the bands they’re presenting tonight. It's a paternal line up culled from the label roster, proudly displaying their diverse best.

Even so, there’s that sort of nervous atmosphere you get at the start of parties in Koko tonight, when those that have turned up early are glancing around furtively and asking themselves whether other people will also come. It doesn’t help that Colourmusic are plagued with technical problems, and not enough people are around to see them play their stomping ode to love, ‘Yes!’. All we need now is for two people to turn up in the same dress.

It's no better when clever-clogs poppers Dutch Uncles come on and frontman Duncan Wallis is all awkward dance-angles. The Manchester band also suffer from technical issues and stumble briefly, but come back strong; halfway through the relentless ‘Fester’, the mood changes and we get a first inkling: yes, this will be a successful evening. Koko’s auditorium was about two-thirds empty at the start of their set, but it’s rapidly filling, and the band seemed to grow in stature with the increase in numbers. ‘Face In’ and the title track to their last record //Cadenza// go down well, and the band walk off stage with the final-whistle swagger of a team who’ve just pulled back a win from 2-0 down — drunken dad-dancing forgiven, if not forgotten.

Any residual party jitters are blown away when Field Music come on and, after a couple of tracks, announce: “It’s a real pleasure to be here for a completely contrived reason. It’s been 13 years, and it’s been brilliant.” In comparison with the earlier acts, Field Music are all 1-2-slick change and “we’ve got a new album coming out in February” (Plumb). They’re the indiest of all the acts, but they’re also interesting: guitar-pop with a bright outlook. They finish with a taster from that new record, (I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing – chunky west-coast riffs keep everybody happy, and the party momentum moving.

Then The Go! Team bound on stage in a manner entirely befitting a band with an exclamation mark in their name, literally running from the wings and launching straight into ‘T.O.R.N.A.D.O.’. Meteorological metaphors might sound lazy, but we can say they stormed it: for a full hour, lead singer Ninja is all biceps, abs and pink lycra madness. It’s as bubblegum as it is big and beaty but it’s also very exhilarating; the mash of samples, chants, old school hip hop and screaming guitars works because of the sheer force of delivery. Jumping around and imploring ‘everyone should be dancing’ in time to the opening bars of their final song, Ladyflash, is a pointless entreaty: everyone is. And this is surely the best way to say many happy returns to Memphis - week day or no.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

What's this? What's this?

Some time around mid- to late-November, I felt what might once have been described as my ‘festive spirit’ curl up into a ball, splutter, and begin to bed-down for its annual hibernation. But there was a time - there was a time - when I could believe that Christmas made the world a better rather than a worse place (most toy-makers don’t live in Lapland, they live in poverty - fact). A blissful time of innocence and ignorance, which every year I and try to recreate by taking a hit of my seasonal soma: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is joy. For 76mins I am able to block out the harsh realities of the holidays, and feel like Jack when he stumbles upon Christmas Town and ‘the monsters are all missing, and the nightmares can’t be found, and in their place there seems to be good feeling all around'. Even Scrooge got a break from his miserliness in the end…

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Annie Mac presents Azealia Banks @ Koko

This is straight-up the rudest - in every sense of the word - thing I've ever heard. Someone played it to me on a phone in a bar one night, and it was like the penis splice scene in Fight Club: I didn't quite catch it all, but I knew something special had happened. When I got home I listened to it around thirty times over - mainly through disbelief. Did she just say…? I've checked, and yes, yes she did. But screw the swearing: on 212 Azealia Banks serves up something seriously slick over a bass line that will beat your ears into submission. That alone makes it worth the admission fee for Annie Mac presents tonight; the fact that she’s going to be everywhere in 2012 makes it a must…