Witloof Bar, Botanique – 16th October 2009
Mail through Facebook from the Botanique offering free tickets to Stars Like Fleas. Never heard of them. And if there’s “free” places, it implies that the pre-sales have been so crap that the venue is getting desperate for enough people through in the hope they buy a beer or 2 and double the takings.
However obscurity is no gage of quality. Their eclectic experimental pop on MySpace is enough to rouse my curiosity.
I got there for about 9pm (I have kids...) and they were already in full flow. The audience of about 30 people all sat on the floor digging the dimly lit atmosphere with minimal lighting and candles onstage. No queue at the bar though, so I join them with a beer. There’s a drummer, a harp, violin, guitar, and they’ve dug the Witloof’s grand piano out of the corner. First date of their European tour, and they are sounding somewhat jetlagged. Some of the vocals, particularly the bearded guy in the white kaftan who passes as the lead singer are rather out-of-tune, as if they’ve just got off the plane and it’s still morning. Things do improve – still very experimental – reminding me at times of Grizzly Bear or the Guillemots, and finally they do something quite good with 5 of the 6 singing, creating quite a pleasant textured and fairly intense atmosphere.
And that’s it. I’ve not even finished my beer, and they’re off stage by 21:20. Disappointingly early start (no support band), and I didn’t really see enough to decide whether or not this is cutting edge experimentalism or self indulgent clap-trap. If you fall in love with their MySpace stuff, you’ll love it, otherwise I’d avoid.
Le Dada, Rue de la Violette
Now what? I don’t get out much, so I might as well make the most of it. Off to the DNA to see if they have anything on. Nope – no bands on a Friday night. Off to the Dada then, where I come across something that looks like a Metal band just starting to soundcheck.
Turns out to be King Terror, who are a punk-metalcore bank from up north somewhere. Most of the audience must have come for the previous 2 bands on the bill, as they are outside smoking, so there’s only about 30 people left paying any attention (as conversation is difficult to say the least)
This is loud, fast, very tight (these guys are great musicians), and highly politically motivated. The drums are pounding, the bass is driving, the guitar is loud, and remarkably subtle for what it is, and the vocals are screamed at top volume.
The Stig explains what the songs are about, and sometimes the explanation is longer than the songs themselves. A good job too, because the chance of working out what the lyrics are is remote to say the least. “If you are in a band, then tell us WHY you are angry”. And they do. The themes of racism, voicing your opinion, domestic violence, the hypocrisy of the music business, war, peace and religion are all aboarded. All in the space of about 30 minutes. According to the guy next to me, they were not on top form and have been known to be “better”, but I thought they were great – there’s a real sense of fun and enjoyment about what they do, and they obviously believe that what they have to say deserves to be said.
We have no records or shirts in the back. They do have a leaflet with the set & lyrics printed out, with some explanatory notes, which I thought was a very nice touch indeed.
“Hardcore Punk without content is like beer without alcohol. It’s about awareness and small scale action. We can claim a place for ourselves, for free thinking and discussion and other small-scale initiatives”. And I for one liked what they had to say and how they said it, and I wouldn’t be disappointed if I came across them again on a random night out.