Lampy and I learnt a little from Custard Thruster Vol.1. Public transport routes and changes were carefully assessed and planned. Kit was selected, packed and loaded in to comfortable rucksacks and a repeat of a “Planes Trains and Automobiles” style mad dash (complete with hernia inducing suitcase!) across the city were avoided. Instead we arrived fresh after a gentle amble along the District Line to Bow to find the Engine Rooms shaking itself awake as staff, bands, and caterers began the preparations for an epically long day of quality music that was Custard Thruster Vol.3. Ten bands, starting in the harsh light of an early afternoon in October carrying on in to the darkness until well passed midnight.
Having arrived early, the first act, Human Pet, were soon put to work painting a Custard Thruster banner in front of the arches and soon a massive black backdrop with bold white (emulsion paint) lettering was drying in the weak sunshine in front of the Engine Rooms. Lampy got her battery powered par cans on charge and her birdies set up to provide front light for the bands and had a go at either refocusing or turing off some of the house lighting to reduce the glaring power of the flashing back lights. With the lighting of the first act to her liking went in search of coffee…
There’s plenty of cheap beer to be had at the Engine Rooms, but with the need to stay on the ball for a little while yet before giving in to temptation, acquiring coffee was first and foremost on Lampy’s mind. Thus began a long and winding journey in search of a brew, and maybe even chocolate. The area around the Bow Triangle Industrial estate has many, many interesting things, but quality coffee is not counted amongst them and as the area of investigation broadened, the realisation that another tube journey was required dawned and Lampy headed for Mile End. All of which dear reader, resulted in Mr.Fox being left unsupervised with the lights for the first few acts! (have no fear, no actual buttons were pressed but lights were reorientated to point roughly in the direction of the musicians and is my shots of Human Pet, SKiNNY MiLK, and Dinges were anything to go by I didn’t do too bad a job – the odd very RED drummer aside…). Sometime later, the return of a triumphant (and properly caffeinated) Lampy saw the lighting game raised significantly and a somewhat relieved Mr.Fox went to investigate the bar facilities dodging the blobs of emulsion paint that saw fit to escape the banner on its journey to the back of the stage.
Whilst the unusual location of the Engine Rooms serves as a cruel joke to the uncaffeinated, it also has some interesting effects on the bands and how the crowd changes over time. Uncertainty on location means getting there early if you’re playing or want to see a specific act. Bands often hang on to enjoy a few more acts after they’ve done their bit and spend some time chatting with the other performers fostering the sharing of ideas and planting the seeds of collaboration. Relatively few members of the crowd turn up early and remain for the whole event (those that have are easily spotted by early evening having taken advantage of the bar facilities) but there are always a smattering of familiar faces (and pogoing dance moves!) that I’ve seen time and again at Fluffer events. The crowd appears to change in waves with the fans of a given act appearing in time to catch the act before their favoured artists and then fading away after another performance or two. The two acts that caused the biggest crowd turnover were Dogfeet and Madonnatron/Meatraffle (who turned up together). It’s an interesting observation that it might be possible to sell the event out, but never quite have a full venue at any one time due to this constant turn over as the crowd cycles through following their favourite artists. Not something I’m entirely sure the organisers realised was happening.
Whilst I very much enjoyed SKiNNY MiLK and Dirty White Fever (who photographed well with their request for white light on their drummer) the real musical highlight of the evening were Dogfeet. The band took a little setting up and an incident involving the sound engineer, guitar pedals and beer did little to improve the situation but when they did get going the sound this band made was striking. It’s the sound of anarchic anti-rock, edgy and intense with the performers wholly given over to their music. Drums and bass line take front and centre in the music and are used with unerring precision to captivate and control the crowd. Cymbals are replaced with what appear to be large dented serving platters with holes drilled in the middle heisted from an Indian Restaurant. The effect is to replace the normal long shimmering note with a shorter, sharper, car-crash crunch with every strike of the drumstick. The performance is a spectacular onslaught that drove the crowd in to an energetic and chaotic mosh, but when the music ceased, left it exhausted somewhere between shock and elation. Dogfeet’s sound is a step in a different musical direction, perhaps not a full avant-garde experimental leap in to the unknown, but certainly a sudden gritty step to a place somewhere beyond-punk.
After Swedish Death Candy and Meatraffle filled the Engine Rooms for a very enjoyable sets (although it has to be said somewhat overshadowed by the efforts of Dogfeet), much of the crowd melted away leaving Dead Rabbits to close out the evening with their more sedate and uncharacteristically mainstream feeling sound.
It had been a very long day. Both Lampy and I were shattered and I had ten bands worth of editing to look forwards to (scroll on down and you’ll see what I mean!). So, as the last hangers on and the Engine Room staff settled down for a well earned drink before tidying up Lampy and I slipped away tired and happy and began our slow and winding bus journey back west…
The Engine Rooms, Bow. 15/10/2016
Dirty White Fever
Swedish Death Candy