Last weekend I took a little break from taking photos at gigs and went and enjoyed a great day’s music at the Walpurgis Nacht festival at the Windmill In Brixton completely camera free. It’s a really lovely, welcoming venue with a lot of sweaty character (and by the end of the evening, sweaty characters too), great sound and a rather large dog on the roof… I’ll
admit that the main draw for getting tickets was Wussy. Last time Lampy and I saw Wussy it was four years ago when Lisa and Chuck last made it to our shores supporting American Werewolf Academy. This was back in the heady days when we lived so far out of town we chose gigs based on the support act as we always had to leg it for the last train back to the Outer Reaches (or Sunbury as it is sometimes otherwise known…). As expected, Wussy played an absolute belter of a set but there were a couple of complete gems supporting them at the Windmill which really made the night in to something special, namely Bruja and Otoboke Beaver. Special enough indeed that upon hearing that Bruja and Otoboke Beaver would be playing at the Pipeline on Tuesday we thought we’d best pop along for another listen.
The venue at the Pipeline is in the basement under the bar. It’s a big space where the chatter of the gathering crowd ricochets and is intensified by the hard walls and low ceiling so that soon the din makes it feel like you’re sharing some tunnel under the city with an approaching, and apparently quite angry, tube train. The stage is lit by four par ceiling mounted cans vaguely aimed at the margins of the stage and the backs of the heads of the front few ranks of the crowd. The crowd itself is an interesting mix… There’s the muso’s, men of a certain age gathered in small clumps in corners. Men who love their music and usually have a pretty decent camera about their person somewhere. These guys
are familiar faces. You see them by themselves, or maybe in small groups, across the city at the most interesting of gigs. They seem to gather in numbers at events towards the ‘heavier’ end of the musical spectrum and I wonder if many of them were punks when punk meant something real, immediate and revolutionary and now are allowed a pass now and again to indulge their musical passions and escape a more hum-drum existence. To see that this many of them had gathered together in one place bodes well for the set, rarely have I seen such a conclave of the muso’s… There’s a strong Japanese contingent, just as you’d expect with rap duo Hibari as well as Otoboke Beaver on the line-up for tonight. And then there’s the varied horde of blokes… Late teens through to early thirties, most clutch squeezy plastic pint glasses as they add their raucous chatter to the din, some wear sunglasses in the dim light of the basement. It turns out, that together, these gentlemen are the London Chapter of the Otoboke Beaver Appreciation Society and they are here en mass…
The first of the four act bill didn’t make it, so it was up to the Japanese rap duo Hibari to kick-off the evening’s entertainment. Describing their work as Electronic Street Punk they are like nothing I’ve seen before. Hibari’s stage show is electric, the pair bounce around the stage delivering sharp-edged rap vocals in fantastic, melodic, light and delicate tones to stripped back, but cleverly combined electronic beats coaxed from the small boxes of pure magic clamped to their microphone stands with minimal but perfectly timed and deft touches. I have about two poorly pronounced words of Japanese, I have no idea what’s being sung about, but it’s a performance that really woke me up and captured my attention completely.
In almost complete contrast, the three piece from Barnsley known as Bruja took to the stage next with their brand of grungy psych alt-rock. This is an band whose sound was brought up on thick cuts of Dinosaur Jr cooked rare and slathered in a rich Husker Du sauce, served with a side of thick-cut, hand-fried Nirvana wedges and a garnish of finely sliced, raw Ringo Deathstarr. It’s a playful and original sound, with rolling bass, high-energy, but precise drumming and some exciting fuzz- and distortion-rich guitar. I enjoyed this set immensely, and managing to get right up to the stage on the left hand side was able to get some really nice shots of vocalist and bassist Delyth Wadsworth.
Up until this point it’s been a pretty relaxed evening from the crowd’s perspective but as the four petite forms of Otoboke Beaver clad in their flower dresses take to the stage the gents at the back of the room wake up, ditch the remains of their squeezy pint glasses of Estrella and surge forwards. The muso’s and regular punters are shoved aside as the Beaver rip into their set with the efficiency of a deranged tree surgeon carving the Sunday roast with a freshly sharpened chainsaw. This is abrasive garage-punk, played at warp speed with all settings turned up to 11. Everyone sings, and whilst every song is played at true break neck speed, there melody and structure beneath the surface of the music. Whilst diminutive in stature, these ladies have attitude… And lots of it, their stage presence is huge and they completely own the partisan crowd. As lead singer Accorinrin steps on to the monitors to spit her staccato vocals over the heads of the horde, the front of which was now dominated by the desperate and perhaps informally affiliated members of the Otoboke Beaver Appreciation Society, it detonates and a tightly packed, surging mosh. Lampy has taken to the stage and has curled up between the monitors to avoid the crush and I find that my immersive training at a certain Pit Party has prepared me well to photograph from the fringes of the mosh (a large Pentax can be quite “persuasive” in this situation…).
It’s quite a spectacle to round off an excellent evening’s entertainment! As I’m sure you can imagine, Wednesday morning in the office was a little slow. Significant volumes of caffeine were required to make it through the meetings…
The Pipeline – 03/05/2016