Live at The Tyne, Newcastle
It's not often that I attend gigs that are in any way popular, so it was quite a surprise to arrive at a packed out Tyne bar on a Sunday night. Locals Okay Champ are first to take the stage and its an instantly engaging introduction to the band formed from the ashes of Nately's Whore's Kid Sister (a band that completely passed me by somehow, despite being constantly told that they were class by various friends and media outlets) and also featuring ex-members of Your Codenameis:milo and Let's Buy Happiness. It's probably not surprising to anyone who's even vaguely aware of those bands' reputations that this lot are quite the noisy conglomerate. Their songs are predominantly deep, crunching and swampy, played slowly for maximum gut punching effect. Most of the tracks aired tonight seem to take you into a bit of a trance via their repetitive riffs before freaking you out with a twist chaotic ending. Occasionally they sound like Slayer being played on a slowly dying turntable, which can only be a good thing. Next up are Human Tooth who choose a more consistently chaotic approach. Their playing style is slightly wonky and they hit the songs fast, on the front foot. There's no let up on the doom though, this aint no slacker rock band and the music leaves you with a slightly uneasy feeling of dread. In other words they fit in quite well on tonight's bill. At this point my view was interrupted by a man who stood on a chair directly in front of me, his arse one inch from my face, so I had to make do with just the audio for the most part. Luckily it was good audio. It would be hard to come close to Spectres renowned live assault though. This is a band who've made a name for themselves through their electrifying live performances (in addition to their cheeky publicity stunts and light-trolling antics). Amazingly this is the first time I've seen the band live and I can confirm that their show is just as powerful and visceral as I've been led to believe. Tracks from their latest album Condition sound particularly impressive in their louder, rawer form, each one bleeding into the other with noisy, swirling precision. The dual guitarists (Adrian Dutt and Joe Hatt) lay down a constant wall of sound which bewilders and intrigues whilst Darren Frost's bass provides the lions share of the melody and Andy Came's drums add a particularly intense finishing touch. All of these elements whip up an almighty racket which is both threatening and weirdly hypnotic. Unfortunately I found myself slipping out of my mesmerised state during the second half of Spectres' set due to various crowd based distractions. This included a persistent stage invader who, at one point, crept up behind singer Joe Hatt and took over vocal duties before being coaxed back down from the stage by members of Okay Champ. I found myself wondering if this is par for the course with a Spectres show, or if it's more the symptom of a drunken sunny day in Ouseburn. I suspect it was the latter. It made for an eventful show at the very least.