How considerate of Wire and White Hills to come and play a short walk north up Bridgewater Canal from my cool abode. All the other bands, the babble of beautiful women, the henna tattoos and Finnish skull T-shirts were just a great big bonus.
I made it inside around the time Rev Rev Rev were starting their set. Howard Jones (no not that one, he drums for Last Harbour) and Penfold 666 had no idea where the Aether stage was, nor did a beautiful blonde woman at Water stage. Big man at bar knew it was upstairs. Up the stairs mister there were three guitarists of Desmadrados Soldados de Ventura, later to play on Fire. Dylan Hughes had a clue and set me off in the right direction. Just around the corner someone was calling my name. It was another Desmadrados guitarist Nick Mitchell. I said hello and waved goodbye quickly and barrelled off straight to the front of the small and rather under-populated Aether stage having missed just half a song from Rev Rev Rev. Leaning on the metal barrier and trying not to burst the three balloons tied to it, I got a good look at them for the first time as I dug the My Bloody Valentine vibes of their loved up mind float ditties. The singer is a woman but I could tell that from their album. However I now learned that she is quite short, not a midget, just petite. The guitarists either side of her were quite tall and none of them moved about much, letting their exquisitely crafted dream rock do the talking. Towards the end they played my favourite song of theirs, "Ripples." It has a very Wire feel to the riff but doesn't really sound like Wire, more like Loop. Wire however always sound like Wire, whether heavy, soft or in a rhumba. Most of those who gathered to hear them had to be content with not seeing them as the Earth stage was inadequately low and the area before it was packed out ten minutes before they set up. Lucky for me DJ Marc Riley played "Jesus Built My Hot Rod" by Ministry, giving me the momentum to shove all the fucking hippies out of the way and get down the front in time to witness two hats, two guitars, some drums, one bass, a plethora of pedals and thirteen songs, all executed by four male humans, as far as I could tell. Some executions were glorious, for example "Sonic Lens" and "Diamonds" the two songs so new they aren't even on the new "Nocturnal Koreans" eight song album. One execution was gory; the excess volume onslaught of "Harpooned" which inevitably closed the set. It was Manchester so they has to play "In Manchester," a much lighter execution. Most of the set was culled from the eponymous album released last year (2015) and the only song from "Nocturnal Koreans" was the title track now streamlined and sped up from its early incarnation two tours back. The performance was better than the three gigs I saw on their 2015 tour. The first major annoyance of the day was having to miss Desmadrados Soldados de Ventura as they played on Fire at the same time Wire drilled Earth. The second major annoyance was having to miss all but the first song The Jesus and Mary Chain played in the midnight hour because White Hills were playing at the same time. Until then, the only band I knew I liked was the Lucid Dream so I was tempted to walk on home and listen to the Stranglers in an environment where the cider is actually drinkable and not horrendously overpriced. It must have been the mediocrity of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats who got me thinking that way. Why the hell this toytown NME crap was on the big bad Air stage when Wire were infinitely more deserving of being there I cannot fathom. The Air stage was also referred to as the main stage by a well ear-plugged security woman who was having none of this hippy bollocks. Up on the balcony overlooking Air, I struck up conversation with a London lady called Diane who suggested I stick around to watch the Raveonettes with her. They turned out to be a quite enjoyable mix of Mary Chainish Suicidisms. Whilst I quite enjoyed the Danish trio rollin' 'n' rockin' I don't think I'd be tempted to shell out for any of their records. Brian Jonestown Massacre seemed bland so I set off to experience a Lucid Dream on Fire. I can't recall much about their marvellous psychedelia except that it sounded better than I've ever heard them before. Yet again the stage was too low to see the band from the back of the room where I spent most of their set chatting to an Iraqi glass collector called Dasha. She said she'd enjoyed Saint Agnes on the same stage earlier in the day. Are Sleaford Mods the most over-rated load of fuckin' bollocks since the shitty Stone Roses? Just a tenth rate Fisher Price Suicide rip off with some fucker fucking swearing about the antics of miserable fucking twats like some rejected Eastenders script. They were the one band who played that day who made me fucking glad I'm not them. They were however a great excuse to run around the back of the room like a feckless chicken fuckin' swearing at every fucker. I soon got bored of that and fucked off up the fuckin' stairs, where a fuckin' friendly Finnish skull T-shirt lady told me I would be wise to check out K-X-P. I did just that and found them pleasingly like Neu! Very good for a dance around the back of the room without swearing.
At last a band I could truly rock out to and go wild with down the front: WHITE HILLS. They earned capital letters for being the most insanely enjoyable band of the day, with the caveat that if Wire had played later on a stage of the size their popularity deserved I would have enjoyed them as much. Not a hell of a lot has changed since their last gig at Islington Mill, so go read my review of that. According to the set list I purloined from guitarist Dave W the played Dead, Radiate, No Will, Lead the Way, Paradise, DBA, In Your Room, No Game, £SD or USB, Walks and Oceans. I was so drunk on rip off pink wine I forgot to buy their new album.
The Cosmic Dead seemed as drunk as me when they blasted us out of our brains but WHITE HILLS proved an impossibly tough act to follow. Nevermind, they were good for drunken stagger about towards the end of a grand noisy day, with a hug from Jenny and a kiss from Katie.
In order of excellence, the bands I experienced:
1. WHITE HILLS (entire set)
2. Wire (entre set)
3. Rev Rev Rev (all but half the first song of their set)
4. The Lucid Dream (most of set)
5. K-X-P ( about half the set)
6. The Cosmic Dead (entire set)
7. Raveonettes (entire set)
8. The Jesus and Mary Chain (just April Skies far way from the Air stage)
9. Brian Jonestown Massacre (about 10-15 minutes)
10. Sleaford Mods (about 10-15 minutes)
11. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats (shite)
This review was written for Optical Sounds zine.