Rhesus, Corporation:Blend, Nebraska, Hostile 17
Little John 14/01/2005
Walking into the Windmill, just after the doors have opened, it's already packed, rammed in fact. The reason is simple. Pop of the tops is dead. All hail Club enemy. Yes, the New cross night has upped sticks, to be reborn in Brixton, slinkier, sexier and better than ever before. Happy New Year indeed! Kicking things off, are Hostile 17. A young shouty band, sounding somewhere between The Pixies and Rage against the machine, with a singer who comes across like Eddie Argos' angry younger brother.
Considering that it was their first gig, they were extremely tight and honed. The third song (the name of which escapes me) was particularly strong with a mammoth, serpentine guitar line weaving its way round a solid, driving rhythm section. One thing this band could benefit from however, is the knowledge that a whisper can be louder than a scream. Teenage angst and shouting is all well and good but when it's constant, it does have the tendency to boil away to a vaguely irritating drone. It is early days yet, but in time they have the potential to become a really great band. I for one will be keeping an ear out for them.
Next up are Nebraska. Looking beyond the obvious 'ooh don't they sound like the Smiths' comparisons, lies an utterly fantastic band. It's triumphant Indie-Rock of the highest order. The guitars reek of elegant regality and not only does Mikes voice soar beautifully but it does so with passion and more importantly, with conviction.
To be honest, decked out in their besuited swagger, they reminded me of the Bluetones when I caught them at Glastonbury a few years ago. Big, anthemic songs that capture a time and a place, creating an instant intimacy with the crowd where a few bum notes only add charm. If they can stretch their horizons beyond their influences, and define their sound, and so long as they don't sell them selves to the Cold patrol template of radio 2 friendly 'guitar music', this band could be something very special indeed. Yes Nebraska are nothing new and yes, they do sound a bit like the Smiths, but it's worth remembering that they're also a fucking brilliant band!
After a short DJ set courtesy of the Dirty Sounds boys, we're presented with a spooked, mournful choir. What the hell is this? No sooner do Corporation Blend take to the stage than our questions are answered. It's the intro to first song, Mathematician. What then proceeds to unfold is half an hour of musical bedlam.
Looking every bit as if they've just been released from a cage, they tear their way through a frantic, upbeat set, playing with the true spirit of the night. The brilliant thing about this band is that they manage to turn gigs into events, creating a fun, party atmosphere, distinguishing them from so many other 'charity' trips to your local toilet venue. At one point a stunningly inebriated member of the audience demands that their next song is in A. Looking both amused and baffled Dexy the bassist reveals that funnily enough, the next song is, before launching into 'What became of the girl?'. The musical equivalent of an ice cream man begging for his life whilst being pushed off Blackpool peer! Though strikingly technically proficient, the murky sound of the Windmills abused PA meant that some of the detail was lost. However, the energy carried the songs through, creating a self contained, perfectly formed riot of a show.
Topping the bill are potential Kerrang darlings of tomorrow, Rhesus. As a band they sum up the night perfectly. There's no pretension, no prescribed cool, just fun music. Good old fashioned music to get people moving and shaking, ready for the weekend. They have a bratty and boisterous playfulness about them which seeps its way insidiously into the crowd. The night may be getting on but it's not over till they say so.
Musically they veer towards what the Americans might refer to as "college rock." However, the scuzz and the snarl happily replace the nasal tones and plastic production of their counter parts from over the pond, making for a much more alive sounding and infinitely more appealing prospect. Rhesus aren't here to save the World. They're not going to write the next Bohemian Rhapsody or reinvent the wheel. But they will put smiles on a lot of faces and for that reason alone they're a band worth watching.