A night of three faces of punk rock at Camden’s Electric Ballroom – from the haven of grunge punk to full on hardcore punk-rock with a diversion through the weird and wonderful, too. Saturday night in the heart of trendy North London could never be called dull.
DIY grunge punks. Why write songs that last longer than two minutes? Bash out a few chords, make a point, and get onto the next one. For most of the set, I wasn’t actually sure if the four-piece had kicked off or was just tuning up. Songs seemed to have a start and and ending with not much in between. A bread sandwich.
There was a lot of f’ing and it would probably be fair to say that Scrap Brain falls into the intersection of punk and earache for the masses. The early 7PM start didn’t help, as the hall had hardly started to fill. I had the sense the crowd needed more than just the first pint of the evening to really listen to their messages.
It was only when they were packing up that I noticed the anarchy symbol on the back of the bass player’s jacket. Yeah! That took me back to 1977 – The Pistols on The Thames, The Clash playing Brixton (Joe Strummer died 15 years ago today), day-glo spiked hair and nose rings on the Kings Road. Happy days when punk was fresh and exciting.
40 years on, punk still has its place, and I guess that Scrap Brain will continue to be part of that movement. Maybe I’m just getting old, cynica,l and am falling into the trap of thinking that things ain’t what they used to be. So when is the future going to happen?
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Nothing will ever prepare you for your first brush with the Lone Taxidermist.
Was it punk music, performance art, or some sort of fetish party?
Imagine if Siouxsie Sioux raided Malcolm McClaren‘s Sex Shop, daubed her face with yellow paint, and rammed lip stretchers into a load of her mates’ mouths, just before blowing up about 50 rubber gloves. That image is only the tip of the latex iceberg that Lone Taxidermist brought into the Electric Ballroom. Shock? Awe? The future? Could be.
The stage was littered with band members clad in various gimp suits made from bright plastic and latex. Most of them wore full head masks, which made the viewer feel even more uncomfortable. It felt like all of the more imaginative monsters from Dr. Who had arrived in Camden and joined forces with a couple of dudes who provided an electronica soundtrack to the psychedelic dance. The haunting yet witty vocals from the Lone Taxidermist, a.k.a. Natalie Sharp, were largely incidental. After performing some sort of alien sex act with another rubber glove covered human doll, she stripped down to latex bra and knickers and mounted a speaker stack.
Weird looking rubber creatures and plastic dolls moved and gyrated next to the musicians. At one point, a bloke in “normal” clothes took to the stage to dance. I wondered if he had forgotten his outfit, as he knew the moves. Throughout the set, there did appear to be some sort of narrative with the dancing freaks seemingly being rewarded with aerosol cans. Maybe the lad in the T-shirt was the handsome prince – it was a very fluorescent, very Grimm fairy tale after all.
It didn’t end there. Before the first tune started, the gimps had invaded the audience. They led a bemused crowd in a rhythmic dance while spraying them with whipped cream. Towards the end of the set, the crowd was tied in a big circle and covered in a huge sheet of clear plastic. Perfect for Natalie to climb across from the stage and crowd surf on the top. Maybe she was the cherry crowning a very large human dessert. Could her latex army have been the fruit? One definitely looked like a over-sized banana and another could possibly have been a strawberry. The Lone Taxidermist new album is called Trifle after all.
I also got a mouth full of what I hoped was whipped cream and not whatever it was that the security guard removed in a tied off condom at the end of the show. I shudder at that thought.
“Well that went well,” Natalie announced in a broad Cumbrian (Northern English) accent as they left the stage. Look out for them on the next planet and dimension.
“Guys can rock. Guys can rock” was the opening chant from singer Matt Korvette in response to what had gone on before.
Philadelphia’s Pissed Jeans gave us a set of Green Day-style cock-rock for the suitably fired-up, predominantly male audience.
Songs all seemed to merge into one fast blur of guitar heavy noise. Matt struck suitable heroic rock poses involving his mic stand and a bar table (not sure why that had joined them on stage) and took time to rip open his shirt. A photographer’s joy.
It all felt very late-’90s early-’00s and fell into that hole of hardcore-post-punk, which as a genre I don’t think has really weathered that well. (Except maybe for the timeless Fugazi, a fellow Sub Pop stable mate). Pissed Jeans have churned out five albums over the last 13 years, making them hardcore vets. And the guys keep on rocking.
10/10 for effort, 10/10 for getting the sell out crowd jumping up and down punching the air, and 11 out of 10 for being enthusiastic about my photos. (One of them is approaching 1,000 likes on the band’s Instagram the last time I looked – see the yoga pose below).
Guys can rock. Apparently. And I suspect these guys will keep rocking for a lot longer.
Marcus Jamieson-Pond is a regular gig reviewer for The Revue. His other write ups can be found here. To see full sets of photos from this gig and more than 250 other bands shot in 2017, visit www.jampondphotography.com.
Thanks to RockFeedBack for inviting The Revue to sample the evening.
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