Tuesday 9 November 2010

Gig - Pontiak/Dethscalator/Kogumaza @ The Old Blue Last, 29.10.10

Tonight Paul and I settle down for a couple of pints of the good black stuff to quickly shoot the breeze about some upcoming ideas and interviews we have for the site. We sat down in the old cinema chairs of the Old Blue Last and immediately are asked by two girls to mind their table and their gear as they duck down the road for cigarettes. We are itching to get upstairs to ensure we dont miss a beat of the Pontiak gig pencilled in tonight, but grudgingly agree. Not even two minutes after this a group of other girls sit at the table, and when we explain the situation we get some derogatory smirks and rolling of eyes. Thinking nothing of it, we head upstairs - but maybe this was a precursor of what to come...

OK, so that opening is a little obtuse, but tonights show was in equal parts amazing and offputting, and as I go along maybe you will put the Guinness & music banter/ice queen bitches analogy together. Its bleeding obvious in my mind anyway...

SO! First up was Kogumaza (great blog too...). Who? Thats what we were pondering - after half an hour, we were pleading for that answer, for this three-piece from outer England have crafted an anthropomorphic sound that befits their bizarre name (meant to mean something along the lines of a little bear that makes a big noise). What was dished out was a constant barrage of undulating desert psych instrumentalisms, and the interplay here shows a band on the rise. To begin with the duelling guitars threatened to muddy the waters too much - the crossing of swords undoing the intricacies of their sonic assault. But as the set moved on each member of Kogumaza found their own piece of the puzzle, none moreso than their drummer who took centre stage and proved to be the unifying force. Her drumming was simplistic, even rudimentary in places, yet the end result was that her booming rhythms became the counterpoint to the boys' swathes of effusive noise. They rolled forward like an avalanche at night, the momentum coming down on you exponentially from an unknown, and therefore terrifying place. Nevertheless, as they reached their crescendo, it was us who were buried in their sonic waves, gasping for air - and yet wanting to drown in it forever. A stunning opening.

Next up, Dethscalator. Not your normal choice of support for a band like Pontiak - their split release with Leeds collective Hey Colossus was pretty brutal - and it stunned the audience, well, those of the audience that were left by the end. The band T-shirts worn gave a nice summation on what they offer - Sun Ra, and Electric Wizard - if run through a mincer. Is this hardcore run 800% slower? The vocalist prowled around the stage like a demented bipolar droning zombie, with considerable physical heft; as if he would beat seven shades of shit out of you before devouring you limb by limb. It was unrelenting stuff - the drummer going through 3 sticks - and the stage was set for the Carney brothers to take us on.

Pontiak - World Wide Prince (from Sea Voids)

And that they did - Paul and I had a nice 15 minute chat with bassist Jennings about their musical direction and what they intend to do after their latest, Living, including a 20 minute long experiment. What they offered tonight was a sonic hyperdrive of droning bliss. Starting off with 'Young', the Thrill Jockey mainstays grooved on their psych leanings and stretched them to the nth degree - I seriously cannot do this set justice, Im still shaking my head at how powerful it was! I felt positively (and physically) moved by the rumbling solar flares they were doling out with feckless abandon. Not even one of the strangest occurrences in London musical gig history (for me - its actually quite common in some places...) could knock them off balance, when a drunk punter first tried to heckle in what was the only lull of the show, to throwing not one but TWO pint glasses - yes, glasses - at guitarist Van, which somehow managed to miss both Van and anyone in the crowd, but also didnt smash! (Does the analogy know make sense? Bah...) They stopped to see if the crowd was ok - the drunken nutter had left the building - and they brought the sonic waves rolling back in, coalescing in a frantic showpiece that left my jaw scraping the floor, my beard hiding the splinters. This set, above all else, showed me not just that Pontiak are brilliant live performers, but that 'Living' is a brilliant album that moves in and on itself incessantly and infinitely - a sonic ourobouros, if you will. Pontiak - I hope you continue living til Kingdom Come.

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