Monday, May 26, 2008

Punt and menace


Glastonbury may be suffering from some well-publicised problems in terms of appeal (largely thanks to the actions of cretins deterred by the mere thought of one act out of hundreds over the course of the weekend), but micro-festivals continue to spring up everywhere, each one instantly seeming to find sufficient sustenance to survive. They don't come much more micro than the Oxford Punt, a kind of miniature Dot To Dot taking place across five of city's most central venues and with a very local focus. In truth, though, the shindig, organised by local listings mag Nightshift (for which some of this 'ere review was written), is no Johnny-come-lately, having taken place annually for the past decade.

Foiled in my attempts to get down to Borders (yes, the bookshop was one of the five venues) in time to grab a pass - oh ye authors and copy-editors, why do you mock me thus? - I have to settle for a ticket for the venue whose bill started latest. Turns out rather well, as it happens - though not really thanks to Eduard Soundingblock, whose impression of Cardiacs gone death metal is a taste too acquired for my palate.

One sprawling opus which may be called 'You're Going Home In A Fucking Ambulance' is roughly ten songs badly sellotaped together, complete with occasional epic sections that I guess may be a nod to System Of A Down but that actually sound more preposterous than the manic majority. (That said, it's each to their own, and my companion is far more enthusiastic, mentioning Mr Bungle approvingly.)

David K Frampton bears an uncanny resemblance to one of my former housemates. More relevantly, though, he makes dance music, albeit dance music for people who like their ears put in a blender and then fed to them through a straw. Fuck Buttons fucking dubstep with an angle grinder, basically.

Frampton's decision to begin 2008 by releasing three albums in three months on his own Eyeless imprint - A Gravitation Towards The Head, The Orange Room and Red Out - might have you questioning his quality control, but the way he barrels aggressively about the stage tonight is enough to put any thoughts of questioning anything he does (certainly to his face, at least) right out of your head. Clutching three mics in his hands at once like a fat kid returning from an ice cream van with his bounty, he screams into one "We’re gonna rock ‘n’ roll tonight!" It’s not an empty promise.

Barely thirty seconds into their set it’s evident that 50ft Panda worship at the altar of The Riff. In fact, they probably pray five times a day, genuflecting in the direction of Tommy Iommi’s house.

In the sense that they’re an instrumental duo, there’s a hint of the leftfield about them (they themselves cite Lightning Bolt as an influence, as well as more conventional riffmasters like Melvins and Kyuss), but all the same there’s no sense of there being any greater objective than to bludgeon us into rapture, something they achieve with ease – tonight they’re preaching to the converted. If there's any puzzlement on our faces, it's because we're wondering how exactly two people can make so much noise.

I’ve been to a lot of gigs, but I can honestly say I’ve never seen an audience member insert their little finger deep into a performer’s belly button mid-song – until tonight. The witching hour is upon us by the time Clanky Robo Gob Jobs takes to the stage, and there’s no doubt that his gabba spazz-electro, going off like a nailbomb in a Nintendo factory, has an equally strange effect on people. Try as I might, I can't think of a better description of what I'm witnessing than that penned by Nightshift's own Dale Kattack: "a one-man mash-up of Napalm Death, Atari Teenage Riot and Harry Enfield's Kevin the teenager"...

Stood sweating in a blue hooded top with yellow plates in a crest down the back, the zip broken and his ample gut consequently protruding forth unrestrained, he complains about looking less like a stegosaurus (the intended effect) and more like "a fucking Mexican wrestler" before informing us: "I have some merchandise for sale: my ass, and what comes out of it". Nice - much like the closer, "a nice song about my penis". But is there a message in all this madness, a thought for us to take home and cherish? Why yes there is: "Fuck you lolcats, fuck you"...

No comments: