Micachu and the Shapes, The Silent
Alisha Ahmed 15/10/2009
At first, I did not understand the appeal of such a hard indie act (hard to listen to sometimes, with all dissonances and noises for the sake of experiment more than music) could exert, and in doing so, I had totally underestimated the impact it had already.
I missed Micachu's gig at The Great Escape back in May, but truth is, while she was playing, I had to keep the act I was interviewing, backstage at the Sallis Benney theatre, quiet and focused, cause all they wanted was to storm out of the dressing room to go and check Micachu's set out. That should have already told me something about the level of relevance she had, even among her peers already.
Then when I heard a friend talking about her next gig, for which she had been given the Scala to play, I admitted to myself I must have missed something interesting about this artist, and to make amends for that, I went to check Micachu's headline set on October 15th.
And I realised the importance she held the moment I saw that even Geoff Travis and Jeannette Lee themselves from Rough Trade were there to see the gig, which is not necessarily obvious, believe me. I have seen quite a few gigs by Rough Trade acts, yet never had I been in the presence of such legends of the UK music industry before. But beside the relevant VIP crowd, The Scala was absolutely packed, and I believe pretty much sold out, not filled just with casual passers by, but with actual nearly-hardcore-fans, knowing the (few) words (or vocal sounds) to pretty much all the songs.
So, what does Mica exactly possess in order to exert this kind of fascination on people?
I am more a melody than an experimental person, so little did I understand just by listening, even though seeing her live kind of helped my perspective.
During the 45 minutes set, walking around the crowded Scala and keeping an eye on stage, and another on Mr Travis himself, it suddenly hit me that Micachu represents perfectly the ideal concept behind Rough Trade itself. As much as I have a deep love for some Rough Trade artists, I see how Micachu embodies the ideals which were the basics of egalitarianism (rarely have I see such a humble artist, and even rare for the headliner to willingly invite the support act to share the stage with her in the end), inclusivity, and leftfield vision (what Mica does with music is so radical that we might have to broaden the meaning and start using the term sound to apply to what she does).
During the very intense 45 minutes before hitting the curfew, Mica presented all her work from the album Jewellery but of course... such a night with such an act could not get to the end in a conventional way, could it? The encore became actually a pretty much improvised collaboration with support act The Silent, in the indie-electronic version, nearly 30-years later, of Temporary Secretary, originally by Paul McCartney. No wonder she got even the ever zen-like Mr Travis himself to dance to her groove.
Maybe here we've got musicians that can also be representative of a whole (and genuine) idealistic take on music. Mica actually trespassed the boundaries of the concept of music, but so far, I feel people are more than willing to be led through this experiment in sounds, if she's leading the way.