Sour Crouch & The Xenophobes
After being closed for however long, The Alexandra Hotel in Chatham had reopened, now operated by a nice man called Andy, who, like a few folks before him has evidently seen the pub’s weird, ‘plonked-in-the-middle-of-the-road’ location as being ideal for live music, and almost instantly upon its reopening, gigs have been booked.
In the fine tradition of local music, things have not gone entirely smoothly in the run up to tonight, primarily the man who was providing the PA has seemingly fled to the outer hebrides and chucked his phone in a peat bog on the way. However, in the other fine tradition of local music, the bands have rallied at the last minute to bodge a solution, all the vocals are run through a pair of guitar amps. Serious musicians might balk at this, but my inner garage punk fiend is delighted! Feedback everywhere!
So, as the bodies wander into the bar, an atmosphere of solidarity against mild adversity has already permeated the space, along with the gig bags tucked into the corners, and the cars passing by the frosted windows make for the world’s cheapest light show.
First band Funky Mums are a rather loose affair, a fluctuating lineup revolving around Luna Lacuna guitarist Harry Hood, for this gig they take the form of an instrumental two-piece, with tonight’s promoter James Feist on drums, and jam furiously for half an hour.
Harry is an exceptional guitarist and he shreds up a storm, getting the early bird’s heads nodding in unison, but he’s no frontman, and stands with his back to the crowd throughout, there’s nothing wrong with that, but the Mums could maybe benefit from a vocalist to build some songs around those killer riffs.
Next is Sour Crouch & The Xenophobes, which I am, somewhat awkwardly for a reviewer, a member of. So I shall just leave this picture of our singer’s face without comment.
No, we’re not actually xenophobes. Would you ask the Cranberries if they were really Cranberries?
Tiny Ghost were new to me before tonight, but I’m really into their style, or rather styles. I love an eclectic band and these guys vary between post-punk instro odysseys (which, in internal dialogues I call Upcdownc music), spiky, sinister indie straying towards prog, and proper songs that could be called radio friendly (not a negative by the way), while still maintaining a unified feel.
It strikes me halfway through their set that the reason for this might be that Tiny Ghost are a real life Power Trio, with three different creators throwing disparate and distinct ideas and personalities together and birthing something unique in the process. Each of them takes a turn at the mic, singing lead, including drummer Kerry Smith, as someone who can barely walk and talk at once I’m always impressed with drummer who can sing as well, especially Kerry’s style of effortless, laconic delivery. Great stuff, they have a halloween gig coming up at UCA, check them out if you can.
The weird vocal set up really suits KILL RPNZL, the antique radio tones of the Vox amp making vocalist Aaron Mcnulty sound like some sort of analogue soundwave demon. Perhaps that’s what helps their set really connect with me tonight, I’ve always appreciated the band’s gift for thunderous, yet slightly unconventional riffs but now the groove reaches into deep parts off my psyche and my astral self is released into the nightmare plane of existence KILL RPNZL’s music inhabits, I only return from drifitng amongst the mint green skeletons and giant flies when Elle’s bass makes the whole pub shake during the verse of Paralysed From The Waist Up, which is significantly more hefty live than on record.
A satisfying thing about this night was that pretty much everyone in the bar was there to watch the music, paid attention, and showed the performers their appreciation. I think the bands fed off that, and good vibes were flying around the intimate space long after the music was over.The Alex is an unconventional venue, but an effective one, long may it hold out against the inevitable noise abatement order.
KILL RPNZL www.facebook.com/Killrpnzl
Tiny Ghost www.facebook.com/tinyghost
Sour Crouch & The Xenophobes www.facebook.com/SourCrouchXenophobe
Funky Mums www.facebook.com/Funky-Mums
Photos by Kimbo Cranfield and Spike Direction