sex as a foreign language

awkward aural adventures

Shield Your Eyes, Pneu, Silent Front

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“Alllllllllllllllleeeeeeeezzz!”

The top floor of The Old Blue Last is creaking. A circle has formed, a natural amphitheatre amongst the crowd. In the middle of the baying masses stand two Frenchmen, sodden with sweat and screaming at each other, howling, guttural and primal. Neither is backing down, arms primed, sinews strained to the point of failure… The crowd joins in, howling to the moon in appreciation, there is a seconds pause, a stop motion freeze frame, and then they lunge forward grabbing the throng and dragging us down, down into the heart of their world. This is Pneu…and this is all that matters.

An hour earlier and upstairs at The Old Blue Last is filling up nicely. Today the music world was in a furore because indie heavyweights The Shins have parted company with that seminal indie music label Sub Pop. Tonight, when Silent Front walk onto stage with singer Phil resplendent in old school Sub Pop Tshirt and launch into the kind of blues laced, visceral, Tad inspired punk it seems highly apt that we get a lesson in what made that label so great in the first place. There set is no nonsense fare, with lyrics spat with such ferocity that microphones hardly seem appropriate in such an intimate setting. Some of the bass/guitar interplay is a joy to behold.

When Silent Front finish the crowd disperses as is their want in these days of nipping outside for a smoke and when there’s enough space a small, unassuming man starts rolling out a carpet in the middle of the floor and setting up a drumkit. Think Lightening Bolt for references, and so 15 minutes later French noise-mentalists and math rockers par excellence stand facing each other. One drum kit, one half stack amp and one hell of a lot of riffs.  “We are Pneu, and we like you to come closer, come CLOSER” they command. Duly obliged they launch into a simply mystifyingly brilliant 30 minutes of math rock noise terrorism that is breath taking. Feeding off each other as much as they feed off the crowd they create a tsunami of sound that ebbs and flows with syncopated precision. Heavily influenced by the mighty Lightening Bolt and Load Records they manage to bring a flavour of personality to proceedings that is all of their own. It’s hard to describe just how good they were but if you dig progressive noise experimentation, riffs and more time signatures than you can take a stick at then Pneu are your new favourite band. Simply the best set I’ve seen in the last 18 months.

Following on from that Shield Your Eyes were always going to have their work cut out, but they are made of stern stuff and turn in vibrant set culled from their debut eponymous album. Toby and Steff combine vocal duties to give an end result that is much more than the sum of it’s parts, songs that shape shift in front of you, staccato guitar riffs and disjointed chord patterns from Steff, and rolling, walking bass parts from Toby, who is a highly accomplished bassist which may surprise those who know him purely from his solo album or Meet Me In St Louis work. I have to flee as they end, but they cap off an incredible night…If you see any of these names on a poster you need to score out any other diary entry quick sharp.


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Written by Jonathan

April 5, 2009 at 6:31 pm

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