SCMB + Badspeller + Shock Tapes +DebMaster + Donné et Desirée SUB071, Leiden 11/5/2012

What a strange night – some incredible highs and some frustrations it has to be said, but yet again SUB071 came up with something memorable. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a boring gig this past 5 years.


It’s a Friday, and the SUB is ready for an absolute tidal wave of fun; five acts crammed into one night, and quite an audience in too, a mixed crowd of people for this truly mixed musical offering: if there is a theme to be gleaned, then it’s a stand-off between glitchcore and thrashy guitars. Principally, Incendiary is here to celebrate the mighty Sugar Coated Mindbombs’ first release in about 5 years on a label we helped set up with Marcel from WotNxt. This label is Smikkelbaard, our very own version of fun for no-one but us and other tone deaf people.

But enough digressions; first we have to wait till Shock Tapes play a set. And Shock Tapes’ set is okay, no more no less but it’s best summed up that Joy Division’s Shadowplay is the best track that we get to hear; (funnily enough, on hearing it you realise the amount of drama that song has in its “marrow”). The singer is a good ten years older than his band, fair enough, so what, he’s got the right and he’s in control of the scene, but maybe that’s what is misfiring here. There needs to be more from the rest of the band. More balance maybe. Maybe with the Joy Division cover they are able to let rip more, who knows?

Following Shock Tapes (and after a lot of stuff gets cleared away) we get DebMaster who is representing the glitchcore / patina crowd. A small, slight chap with an attractive manner, he embarks on a set of cut ups, squiggles and samples, set to an ever changing beat. It’s great, light, almost jazzy music with a hint of the Cold Wave the French so loved back in the 1980’s. One other thing of note - his hand movements are incredibly precise and deliberate, almost insect like, (I once saw a chap weighing drugs in a coffee shop using the same praying mantis-like hand movements, but that’s another digression)… ANYWAY, things are going well, we dig it, he’s enjoying himself and then, bang. The amp blows up. Stopped brutally in his tracks DebMaster has no choice but to stop which is a shame as his music is fresh and energetic, and not at all cheesy or whacky. Instead the stage is built for Sugar Coated Mindbombs and Donné et Desirée , as both acts can put their thumping noise through their guitar amps.

SCMB fire up first, like an angry bull stung by a wasp. They’re always good but this is a great gig – mainly down to our appreciation of how much their retirement from the Leiden has meant. Three years is a long time in Lady Pop’s fickle annals, and pretty much everyone is glad they’re back. SCMB deals in raucous life affirming noise with no little wit and skill thrown in. They have a brilliant balance of bozo enjoyment against an appreciation of when to alter tone or texture. Tempo is not really an issue as the all-round battering of the senses at SCMB gig means any idea of fast or slow is pretty much lost on the listener, though tonight they do lock themselves in a couple of low-grade grooves. People jig about, and things get messier and more tribal. And we’re pleased to report it’s a rocking gig and we get an encore, can you Adam and Eve it?

Nimwegen’s Donné et Desirée carry on the guitar thrash vibe, though to describe the act’s meticulous, artsy, angsty muse as mere guitar thrash would be a disservice, okay let’s just say it’s a drum/guitar-based duo who deal in sound. After a heartening appeal to the audience to “shut the fuck up” they embark on their mix of Zen like chimes and picks (brushing cymbals, tiny-sounding effects made on the guitar pick up) and out and out brutal noise (throwing cymbals, screaming, raucous guitar). It’s music told to walk a tightrope, music that is given a set of shapes to negotiate, an expostulation of the beauty and freedom that artistic discipline can give. And it is very exhilarating. Like SCMB, Donné et Desirée are punk enough not to fall for the art schlock, they make music for stimulating the sense, not the ego. It’s a marvellous show, part exhibition old fashioned, big top style, part basement bozo. Incendiary loves it.

The amp is fixed (I may be dreaming but I think someone hit the amp a few times with a mallet and it’s up and running again) and finally! Badspeller – aka The Show is the Rainbow, all round nice guy, dude and proto-slacker. He’s seemingly at ease anywhere; whether in an emptying SUB, (annoyingly all the Shock Tapes fans buggered off after their band, why??) or whether on the golf course. Those who stay get a great show, a mix of big, Stateside warped MOR, (Boston put through a patina blender), and post-post-post-modern glitchcore all wrapped up with a goofy cheerleader presentation, a sort of Sufjan Stevens innocence but for people who eat burgers in bed. It’s messy, funny and extremely dancey. It’s a crying shame there’s only about 10 people left, but it’s been a slog to the senses and it’s past 1:30am. Still those who were there were there you know, and the SUB is now tripping on good vibes. So much so that things are not allowed to end, DebMaster, fired up by Badspeller’s vibe now insists that – as a point of honour - he finishes his set. And he does with great aplomb and in front of 5 or so people who decide that they might as well get on down. Somehow Incendiary coaxes its tired feet to shuffle home at about 2:30 and a well-deserved nap.

What a strange night – some incredible highs and some frustrations it has to be said, but yet again SUB071 came up with something memorable. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a boring gig this past 5 years.