Archive for the ‘Live’ Category

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been quite a week for Benefits. Kicking off an extensive UK tour in the same week as the release of their debut album, which has landed to universal critical acclaim, they’ve come a long way, and they know it better than anyone. It’s small wonder they’re fired up for this return to Leeds, which is where it all started in terms of their journey as a live act, and which has seen them transition from a homespun lockdown project into a national act with a following that’s growing by the day, due in no small part to their formidable live performances.

But to step back a moment and consider the album, of which myself I wrote a suitably efficiently enthusiastic review of just the other day: ‘universal critical acclaim’ is no mere hyperbole. Sometimes, a release by a major artist will receive a set of (very similar) reviews in the major press which almost feel like there’s been some kind of advance agreement on a consensus that this is one of their ‘good’ albums or a ‘return to form’ or whatever, with only one or two outliers, more often than not in more alternative channels. These moments strike as somewhat suspicious, since you clearly can’t please all of the people, even some of the time when it comes to something as subjective as music.

And yet Benefits have defied all of everything with the reception for Nails. Sure, an interviewer for Louder Than War suggested that the album was ‘depressing; and admitted it wasn’t something he envisaged listening to much, but the site’s review was roundly positive.

This unanimity is testament to the band’s unifying message: while some may find the barrages of noise challenging, there is absolutely no denying their sincerity, passion, or the power of the truth spoken in the lyrics, making Benefits THE voice of the disaffected here in Shit Britain. You might think that having just expended nearly a thousand words on the album the other day I’d be all out of words for benefits, but I’m just warming up, because the more I see and hear them, the more I have to say.

As the place packs out and the queue at the bar packs as deep as the clamour for the front, guitar / drums duo Scrounge entertain us with a vigorous set. They’re a pleasant surprise who start out suggesting that they’re ramshackle punkers with a murky distorted guitar sound, before, over the course of their set, revealing that they’re so much more. Unexpectedly melodic, with some chiming guitar tones, they deliver some proper songs with tunes and choruses, and incorporating both acoustic drums and drum pads, they vary the sound and style throughout the set. They’re indie, but with guts, and remind me in places of A Band of Susans.



Something has changed since Benefits last came to Leeds, and it’s not just the drummer – although Cat Myers is stunning, and her contribution can’t be overstated. This is my third time seeing the band, and the third drummer I’ve seen them with, and Cat really brings a rare level of sonic articulation to the dynamic of the sound. She doesn’t just drum: she drives the colossal walls of noise blasted out by the Major brothers. They’ve never sounded better: the dual-synth noise assault is crisps and clear and subject to perfect separation tonight, meaning the tones and frequencies really hit hard; the bass shakes the bowels while the treble vibrates the nostrils (I take it’s that’s not something only I experience) as they blast through ‘Marlboro Hundreds’: just as it’s the perfect album opener, it’s the perfect set-opener, too, and following with ‘Empire’ again delivers that antagonistic blast of noise and rage that’s utterly flooring.

But as I said, something has changed. They seem more confident – not cocky by any stretch, still as humble as ever – but assured, while the crowd – perhaps there are more here who’ve been swayed by the acclaim – is a but chattier in pockets, which is irritating, but contrasted by the number of people who are shouting the lines back to the stage. There are more calls out, too – not heckling, per se as it’s not critical, but a keenness to engage, bantz (perhaps not best recommended, but indicative of the level of exuberance in the room) and even hands out for high fives (perhaps not best recommended, but indicative of the level of exuberance in the room).

‘Divide and Be Conquered’ delivers a deep dance groove while Kingsley throws rockist mic stand poses, before they take it down a notch with ‘Shit Britain’ with its shuffling beats and splashes of samples.



As I said, the more you listen, the more you discover: they’re not just shouting and walls of noise, and the set’s variety is something that stands to the fore, perhaps more so with the benefit (boom) of familiarity: ‘Warhorse’ is a raw punk, while ‘Council Rust’ is sparse; ‘Thump’ brings a white noise blitzkrieg ahead of a muscular rendition of fan-favourite ‘Flag’, which is utterly devastating.

Kingsley sits, slumped on the drum riser or on all fours between songs later in the set: he pours every ounce of energy and emotion into every line, and while there is clearly an element of performance about a Benefits show, more than anything, it’s about giving it all to every show, every song, every line, every word. This is fucking real. And that’s what people respond to. The music may be aggressive, harsh, delivered right in your face, but it’s unifying.



Hall can barely stand after an extended and ultra-intense rendition of ‘Traitors’, but still just finds the juice for the (not really) encore of ‘Taking Us Back’, which swings into arena rock and which shouldn’t work, but does in fact provide the perfect finish to a set which eschews genre limitations and showcases a band channelling by whatever means, and doing so with colossal force. The experience leaves me too socked in the mouth to wrap up with a pithy one liner or anything smart. Just… fuck, yeah.

Christopher Nosnibor

Kirk Brandon has to be one of the hardest-working men in British music: if he’s not touring with Spear of Destiny, it’s Theatre of Hate or Dead Men Walking or otherwise recording new albums or rerecording old ones with either SoD or TOH. You’d think he’d be knackered, but he’s got no shortage of energy and is in good voice – he sounds absolutely no different – as he leads the band through a career-spanning set.

They don’t ease in gently, either, storming through an opening clutch of songs beginning with ‘Rainmaker’, followed by ‘Radio Radio’, ‘Young Men’ and the rabble-rousing ‘Liberator’. On a personal level, I’m particularly happy with this, as One Eyed Jacks is a particularly favourite album of mine.


‘Pilgrim’, from last year’s Ghost Population breaks the run, but sits well in the set, built around a beefy guitar chug. It also shows how, as much as they’re a ‘heritage’ band – Kirk jokingly comments on how many of their more recent songs are twenty-five years old now – who are more than happy to crank out the oldies for the fans who grew up with these songs, they’re also very much a going concern and an active, writing and recording band with something still to say and a knack for big, anthemic tunes. They’re great to watch, too: the guitarist plays his solos with his face – it’s particularly fun to watch him mouth the long bendy notes, and the drummer’s a face-player, too. Flippancy aside, though, there’s a lot to be said for the pleasure of watching a band who are into what they’re doing performing, especially when it’s a band who’ve got a wealth of live experience under their belts and they’re just really good, it’s a source of joy. The joy among the crowd is self-evident: it may be toward the older demographic, but they’re here to have a good time and to get moving down the front.


It’s the first night of the tour, and the intro to ‘So in Love with You’ sounds a shade rough but once they’re through it, it’s belting, and keeping the energy up, they follow up immediately after with ‘Never Take Me Alive’ immediately after – and it’s only mid-set. There are people at the bar singing along while ordering pints, and it’s a heartwarming experience all round.

If the main set is perhaps shorter than expected, it leaves time for a lot of encore, where ‘Judas’, from 2000’s Volunteers proves to be a standout as they wrap up a cracking set.


With no support, they’re on early and off early, and it’s not simply age that makes a 10:30 finish a welcome thing: with public transport in the state it’s in, with busses stopping early and trains being utterly fucked and often replaced by busses or nothing at all, it makes travelling even locally to gigs difficult at a time when the night-time economy is struggling. It’s good, then, to see venues adapt to cater for the punters – and judging by how packed the bar was an hour before the show (and the fact one of the hand-pulled beers ran out by 9pm), there’s a fair chance they sold a decent amount of beer on top of the tickets.

For all the crap in the world, good bands and good venues are still thriving. And it seems York is finally on the gig circuit proper. Yusss!

Christopher Nosnibor

The best local bands tends not to stay local, so for RSJ to play a one-off reunion show seven years after calling it a day and singer Dan Cook replacing John Loughlin in Raging Speedhorn in their hometown is a big deal. Precisely what prompted this return isn’t clear, but it’s extremely welcome, as the near-sellout crowd indicates.

It’s busy early doors, and those who are present are rewarded with a killer set from York / Leeds metal act Disnfo. They’re young, loud, attacking and abrasive, pissed off and raging -against the government, society, the world. And too fucking right: there’s much to rage against, and it’s uplifting to see a band channelling that rage creatively, especially via thick, chunky low end riffs powered by some five—string bass action. The singer makes the most use of the floor in front of the stage. They lob in a Deftones cover about two-thirds of the way through the set, which gets progressively more melodic and overtly nu-metal toward the end of the set, but it’s supremely executed, and the interplay between the dual vocals is really strong and tightly woven.



Beyond All Reason are also tight and proficient, but also quite cringeworthy in their straight-faced and immensely earnest performance of some epic but highly predictable hair metal with all the fretwork. They’ve been going for almost twenty years now and clearly have a substantial fanbase, meaning that I’m in the minority when I say I just can’t get onto it. Combining the po-faced thrash of Metallica with the vocal histrionics of Rob Halford, they’re every inch the band who did the ‘Shepherd’s piiiiiiiiieeeee!!!!’ Oxo ad from 2004. There is, however, something amusing about a support act playing a 350-capacity venue like they’re headlining Knebworth.


Beyond All Reason

RSJ don’t look or sound like a band who haven’t played a gig together in donkeys and it’s full-throttle high-octane stuff from the second they hit the stage. There’s a lot of love for RSJ, and rightly so. Active between 2002 and 2017, they garnered significant acclaim in Kerrang and elsewhere, and knocked out four albums, while playing festivals such as Bloodstock and Sonisphere, as well as playing support slots for Slayer, Funeral for a Friend, Raging Speedhorn and Orange Goblin.

The band took their name from the construction term Rolled Steel Joist, and yes, they play some ultra-solid metalcore with no letup, whipping up a mega moshpit, but one that’s friendly – shaved heads and long beards hugging.



Leaning forward, bass dragging on the floor, the bassist hits all the lows and underpins a harsh, heavy guitar assault that just keeps on coming.

They switch to their original drummer halfway through the set for a handful of songs, and things get even heavier and more brutal: ‘Gordon’s Alive’ is a hundred-mile-an-hour frenzy.



It’s probably about half a dozen songs in that Dan announces that the next song is the last, which seems unfeasible. But if he announces it once, he announces it a dozen times over the next half hour, and it feels like a running joke in a good-natured set which reminds me why metal gigs are so often the best and the more brutal the music, the more docile and community-minded the band and crowd alike. The songs are all-out, but in between, the rapport between the band and their fans is heart-warming and a truly life-affirming scene.

In times of deep social division and shit on shit, we need more of this. And we certainly need more RSJ. Let’s hope this reunion isn’t the last.

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s sometimes – often – difficult to balance objectivity with subjectivity when it comes to writing about music. We don’t experience music or relative to it objectively, so to critique it objectively is to strip out what really matters. What does it matter how technically competent an act is if they don’t touch you in some way? No, not like that…

This is even more so the case when it comes to experiencing music live. Yes, a weak performance or poor sound can ruin a night, but equally, some nights are amazing however rough the sound and however ropey the playing. The experience is a holistic thing which is the coalescence of multitudinous factors.

And because the experience is unique and personal, ultimately, I can only speak from a personal perspective and write from a personal context. The context for tonight’s outing is that this is my first time listening to live music since mid-December, and the last three months or so have been tough. I’m out of the habit, and you realise just how quickly you can lose levels of comfort and confidence – as we learned during lockdown.

Sitting in a dark corner with a pint of Brass Castle Misfit with The Fall, Killing Joke, and Iggy Pop blasting over the PA felt good. The people started arriving, and one reason I felt ok about coming down is because it’s very much a local bands, local people event, and this is where local scenes and grassroots venues really do prove their worth: the sense of community and simply feeling safe and comfortable is not something that can ever bee said of bigger places. You just don’t run into people at an O2, have a blether and get a round in, and you sure as hell won’t get decent hand-pulled pints in a glass for £4.40.

Captain Starlet I’d been informed were young but really good. Their set exploded with some high-octane hillbilly shit that perhaps wasn’t so good. Technically, yes, but… Things improved, though, and swiftly. ‘Love is a Pet’ has a nice, dark, strolling bassline and lands between post-punk and country. With 60s vocal harmonies, hints of The Kinks and a whole lot of jangle in the mix, they really can play. I’m just not quite sure what they’re about or if they’ve even decided for themselves yet. The guitarist and bassist look like they’re a different band from the second guitarist and drummer, but credit where it’s due, they’re tight and together, but they’re just not my bag.


Captain Starlet

The Bricks are one hundred percent my bag and half the reason I’m here. They are solid as ever, channelling Siouxsie and X-Mal Deutschland. And they’re seriously loud, and it suits them well. Between songs, Gemma Hartshorn is affable and unashamedly Northern and flogging bananas (with EP download codes attached since they’re launching their Reverse Alchemy EP, which is absolutely bloody great and you need to hear it) but when singing she’s intense and absolutely fucking terrifying, staring out the crowd as she belts the lyrics full lung. The new songs are ace and tonight demonstrates all the reasons why they’re my favourite active York band right now. During the last song some retiree in a massive jumper made her way to the front to dance six inches in front of me and remind me why I always wear steel-toed boots.


The Bricks

There probably isn’t much to say about Percy I haven’t said several times before since I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve written about them, and I’ve seen them even more. To describe them as workmanlike is no criticism here: you know what you’re going to get: grouchy northern post-punk racket from Yorkshire’s answer to The Fall.

Tonight, Percy are sounding dense, tight, and full of piss and vinegar for their first headlining slot of the year. Colin’s guitar is nearly in tune for most of the set as they blast through songs from way back and as yet unreleased. Unashamedly northern and uncompromising in their angularity and attitude, there’s nothing fancy here but it’s delivered with zeal and petulance – the musical equivalent of pie and mash served up piping hot. They only have three effects pedals between them. There’s something to be said for a band that have touched on bigger things in the past who are content playing small local venues and not giving a fuck and simply enjoying making a racket twenty years into their career. ‘Will of the People’ is pure vitriol and it’s magic.



They resurrect the plodding ‘Seaside Donkey’ as the penultimate track before ploughing through a blistering rendition of ‘Chunks’ to close.

I’ve had perhaps a pint more than I ought and despite earplugs, by ears are fizzing, and you know what? It’s all good – great, even. This is what live music is all about.

Christopher Nosnibor

This was supposed to be the perfect bookend to the year: after Percy supported Soma Crew at The Crescent in May, the roles were to be swapped tonight following the release of Percy’s new album, Monorail, in June. But sadly, it wasn’t to be, on account of Percy’s drummer Jason royally fucking his back.

Gigs at this time of year are always a risk, and not only on account of the potentials for injury (as the icy pavements on the way only highlight): the fact that it’s hard sub-zero means a lot of people can’t face wrapping up again after work to turn out on an evening, and then there all of the obligatory work / mates drinks and all that cal. Throw in Steve Mason playing across town and this one was always going to be a gamble, but despite the headliners’ late withdrawal, it’s a respectable crowd who witness The Rosettas emerging sounding stronger than the last time I saw them at the end of September. The sound is solid, buzzy, grungy.

The singer’s confidence leans into arrogance throughout, and not just in ignoring advice sagely dispensed in my coverage of said show in September, while actually mentioning the recommendation not to drop a cover as their second song, they slam in with a faithful rendition of Blur’s ‘Song 2’ as the second song of the set. But it makes sense, and it is well played, as is the majority of the rest of the set. I suspect the singer’s suffering from a cold or something that gives his voice quite a ragged edge, but actually, it sounds decent.


The Rosettas

Unfortunately, technical issues and a lack of organisation means the set ends abruptly and somewhat chaotically, but they played with enthusiasm and were a lot less reliant on covers, and ultimately made the best of a less than ideal situation.

They seem to clear out and take half the audience with them, but, undeterred, Soma Crew take the stage and drench it with sonorous droning feedback. Then they build into a single chord dragging for all eternity as the muffled drums plod away in the back and they hit peak hypnotic. And then the tremolo enters the mix and the volume steps up with the arrival of the snare drum and…. and… and… the set drifts, and my mind drifts, and it’s a most pleasant experience. Time hangs in suspension. ‘Mighty Forces’ is indeed mighty, and the mid-pace one chord chugs are supremely soporific. Everything is measured, mellow, hazy. Everything comes together to conjure a thick sonic mist, and it’s absolutely magnificent. It’s also seriously loud, as I come to realise about two-thirds of the way into the set. When did that happen? Did it get louder? Perhaps. Probably. I can’t help but feel that Soma Crew are seriously underrated, and tonight they really hit all the sweet spots at once.

Crew 2Crew 1

Soma Crew

Leeds trio Nervous Twitch are worthy headliners, and launch into their set without a word, no fuss, not a single note of level checking. Pow! It’s proper, unfussy, old-school punk, three and four chord thrashes played with big energy, and they’re as tight as any band you’ll hear. Sure, with a female singer (who also plays bass), they invite obvious comparisons to X-Ray Spex and Penetration, and as much as they’re punk, they’re catchy and poppy at the same time, and ultimately, they’re good fun.

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Nervous Twitch

There are, of course, many bands playing in the next fortnight, in every city across the nation. Some will draw crowds, others less so. While I enter temporary hibernation, it feels like an appropriate time to reflect, and to celebrate the venues we’re fortunate to still have, and the fact that while times remain tough, 2022 has at last seen live music return to the social calendar. And for all the other shit we’re surrounded by – I can’t even begin the list – this is something we can be immensely grateful for.

Christopher Nosnibor

I absolutely love the EMOM nights: regardless of where they are, they’re eclectic, and above all, accommodating: there’s a real sense of community around them. But if there’s one criticism to be made, it’s around the demographic: guys. Always guys. White, and mostly 50+. This was particularly apparent at the Leeds EMOM at Wharf Chambers a couple of months ago, and admittedly, this is inching towards being my demographic, but… well. What to do about it? It’s an open mic. How can you make something that’s inclusive feel like a place for everyone?

While many guys take up tinkering with synths once their kids have left the nest, it’s clear that this is not representative of the electronic scene, by any means. So why do EMOM nights draw wall-to-wall guys, middle-aged or older, pissing about with expensive midlife-crisis kit, but next to no women or, well, anyone who’s not a middle-aged white bloke?

Tonight does not conform to this emerging form, and it’s genuinely warming to see that the room is not only quite full, but rather more diverse in its populace.

The diversity applies to the music on offer, too: within the first four acts, we’d witnessed modular minimal krautrock, angular bleeping and live chess, as well as an abundance of laptop action, yielding a full spectrum of styles and frequencies. And the evening swiftly evolves from here, because then there’s some absolutely everything going off all at once choral samples, synths and bouncing grooves what the fuckness from Hull’s PariahX, noodly and surprisingly atmospheric, vintage sci fi stuff from regulars TSR2, the trio again reduced to a duo, making innovative use of a mobile phone. They’re reliably good, but this is possibly the best I’ve heard from them yet.

Host Simon Higginbotham, who operates as How Buildings Fail, brings a heap of kit and five miles of cable to conjure squelchy experimental electronica in the vein of Cabaret Voltaire, as fronted by Mark E Smith, thanks to his sprechgesang vocals. He looks like he’s having a ball, and he does a great job, with the sound emanating from the PA landing in the region of Dr Mix: it’s of proper late 70s vintage in style, with pulsating retro drum machine sounds and endless reverb proving integral to the experience.


How Buildings Fail

Dots brought guitar, keytar, and his ‘n’ hers silver spangled outfits, and the human glitterballs provided one of the night’s more unexpected turns. They were good fun, too, even if I was mostly plunging headlong into the zone where everything goes quiet and fades into a blur as I fumble with cables and fret about the seconds ticking down. I am aware that appear significantly more composed than I really am. My head is swimming and everything is a fog.



The question of whether or not it’s acceptable to review gigs where you’re also performing is one I’ve touched on more than once, and tonight my focus on the acts has been pulled a little by the prospect of my first collaboration with Debz Fialkiewicz. Having been impressed by Hull Duo Spore’s performance at WonkyStuff in October, I wrote ‘I feel I should collaborate with these guys – because they’re ace, and Nosnispore has a definite ring to it’. And this, I have to say is the beauty of this little scene: the people are open-minded and interested. Debz got in touch, and so with no rehearsal and only minimal discussion – simply an agreement on ‘dark ambient noise with dystopian spoken word narrative’ the day before – it happened. A few people said the vocals were too low in the mix and barely audible beneath all the echo, but that was exactly the idea. There’s going to be more where that came from.

Noisenispor EMOM


Still buzzing, I slump, drained, into my seat to watch the rest of the night.

Ian J Cole brought some avant-oddity, while Jamie brought some thumping uptempo rhythms to build a harsh beat-driven techno attack before Tom Ray – Home Taper – brought some bulbous, buzzing laptop distortion-driven heavy drone by way of a finale. He brought some really nice, dirty, dark tones and difficult frequencies that rattled the bones and sent vibrations through the intestines, and it felt good. Maybe there’s another collaboration there.

Jamie EMOM



Home Taper

In all, it was another cracking night, and a first-class showcase of the thriving electronic scene in Yorkshire.

It’s a wet and blustery and very northern night in York, but this eagerly-anticipated rescheduled show from The Birthday Massacre, which sold out this intimate 150-capacity venue long ago has brought the old goths out of the woodwork like a swarm of woodlice, and with doors advertised as being as an early 7:00, it’s busy on my arrival at 7:20, and despite Witch of the Vale not due on till 7:45, already the front rows are solid.

The synth-heavy, mood heavy Cleopatra Records signings Witch of the Vale deliver a magnificent set of dark brooding ambient with ethereal vocals and combine spacious moody soundscapes and introspective vulnerability. There are strong hints of Zola Jesus, but also so much more. Harder edges and industrial percussion grow in force as the set progresses. They don’t do chat, they don’t do audience connection, but they do very much do moving, haunting atmospherics. Toward the end of their forty-five minute set, they cover Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Hurt’ in an industrial shoegaze style, and it’s good. In fact, it’s all good, although instrumentalist Ryan’s denim shorts spoil the look a bit .


Witch of the Vale

“What’s up Yorrrrrk?” I slump a little inside as Vanilla Sugar struts onto the stage. From the off, there’s lots of posing, hands up cheerleading… Suddenly, maybe three songs in, the urban cybergoth pop karaoke gets dark. That is to say Pretty Hate Machine NIN meets Kelis with direct and fairly juvenile lyrics, and while she’s got an impressive light show, it’s still urban cybergoth karaoke. ‘Listen York I want you to vibe with me now’ toots the skitzy mall goth, and while she may call it horror pop, it’s ultimately r’n’b with dayglo, pink hair, and zips, and the overreliance on backing including backing vocals which make t difficult to determine what’s actually being done live rather undermines the impact of the handful of decent tunes she does actually have, There’s lots of tongue out and Instagram posing – but not a lot else.


Vanilla Sugar

The Birthday Massacre are as straight up goth as they come in terms of image, and have spent the last twenty-three years mining a seam of technoindustrial / electro / dark pop / goth.

This is a small stage for a big band, and I don’t just mean in terms of dimensions. Back home, they’d just played the 600-capaccity Lexington in Toronto; two nights ago it was the 200-capacity Lexington in London. The 150-capacity Fulford Arms, with its low ceiling and low stage very much epitomises the concept of ‘intimate’. But they absolutely revel in it, as do the crowd.

There’s an overpowering smell of Deep Heat at first, but that’s swiftly replaced by the tang of perspiration. It’s hot, hot, hot! Amazingly crisp, dense sound. Keytar! Instant clapalong to #’Destrpyer’ which lands early.

They repeatedly describe it as cozy, and that’s hardly surprising in context) but seem genuinely enthusiastic to be playing this intimate show with lots of handshaking and high-fiving. As they slam out relentless poppy choruses and phat chunky riffs. The drums are so tight they sound programmed, and despite the apparent chaos onstage, they’re pristine tight. It’s a proper pea-souper of a smoke show, too.


The Birthday Massacre

I’d be entirely immersed were it not for the fact the bearded ponytail-sporting guy in front of me is an irritating end, extravagantly waving one arm while clenching his girlfriend’s waist tight with the other and dancing and singing along as if to prove he’s an uberfan. Uberfanny, more like.

‘Precious Hearts’ thuds hard, while ‘Crush’ is an anthemic slow burner. ‘Enter’ is lighter and brings giggles in the first verse. Sara does get a bit lost in the songs at times, bit rides it well, and she ventures into the crowd for hugs. It’s a hot a sweaty crowd. Fans are out. My eyeballs are sweating. Recent cut ‘Fascination’ still sounds a bit Paramore to my ears, but ‘Pins and Needles’ brings a thick industrial chug.

They do the no-departure encore, and respect is due for that. Everyone knows that going off to be clapped back on is nothing more than ego-stroking bollocks, and it’s welcome to see bands acknowledge that.

‘Falling Down’, the second song of the non-encore is a decent pop song, and they finish a high-NRG set with ‘In the Dark’. And it’s a job well done: they sound great and the energy is on fire. Wednesday nights don’t get funner than this.

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a while. It’s been a while since the last Wonkystuff. Like, six months or something. It’s been a while since Deluxe Hugs debuted at a previous Wonkystuff, and just as long since they last played. It’s been a while since legion of Swine last played in the UK, and even longer since the porcine prince brought his brand of harsh electronica to York – like about four years. Time flies when there’s a pandemic and everyone gets so screwed by lockdown conditions that they’re trepidatious about going back out and find their urge to create, to get out, to perform, has gradually leached out of them to the point that any event is a herculean effort to perform or attend.

The great thing about Wonkystuff nights, as I’ve perhaps mentioned previously, is that they’re not only brilliantly-curated melting pots for musical hybrids from the fringes on all fronts of electronica and beyond, but they’re also wonderfully warm and welcoming occurrences with a real sense of community. And so we’re all here being socially awkward and comfortable and accommodating of that awkwardness, acknowledging the fact none of us get out as much lately, while being pleased to see friendly faces. And you know what? This isn’t just ‘nice’. These are the fine threads that keep people together – not just in a community sense, but individually, knowing that for all the isolation, we’re not alone.

The Wonkystuff House Band who played at Wonkystuff #19 mutated into Deluxe Hugs on a night it seems I failed to document for some reason. Anyway, their debut was fun, a stab at entertainment and some kind of alt-disco thing, and tonight… well, tonight it’s apparent that they’ve not spent much time together since last time. But with big, squelchy bass, disco grooves, and atonal vocals, through the chaos, the songs shine through, as does the chemistry between the three. ‘People in charge/they know what they’re doing…’ drones Simon, and the layers of irony are impossible to ignore. It’s a bit punk and it’s a lot of semi improv fun.


Deluxe Hugs

Up next, Spore, a duo from Hull, bring big, dank, murky modular noise. They churn outa mass of swirling dark ambience that slides into power electronics and old-school industrial. The emergence of a thumping drum beat part way through made for a change of texture. Their set is hypnotic, but also sounds like a noise gig with a club night in the next room. I feel I should collaborate with these guys – because they’re ace, and Nosnispore has a definite ring to it.



Glider Theory are a Leeds-based guitar and drum machine duo. They bring soaring, drifting, post-rock post-punk hybrid instrumentals… Guitars that sound like synths. Guitars that sound like woodwind… Ambient contrails. It’s nice.


Glider Theory

But if you want more nice, you don’t want Legion of Swine. Me, I don’t want anymore nice: I want to feel uncomfortable and I want my ears to hurt, and my chest too vibrate, which is the main treason I came down to see legion of swine on the first date of their UK tour on a visit from Sweden. And I got what I wanted.

Legion 1Legion 2

Legion of Swine

The set, in near darkness bar a deep red light, begins with static drone. The distorted hum continues, buzzing, grating, sawing. It tense and uneasy, in a way that’s reminiscent of 90s Whitehouse It’s surprisingly quiet, and, I reflect, kinda like listening to a hair dryer. Then it stops, and there’s a rumble, a breeze. It’s more ominous than abrasive… Until suddenly it isn’t. A harsh noise wall erupts. And keeps on building. Fuck. It hurts. It’s an immense sonic force. And then… then it stops. Proctor does his signatory trotter pose at the end of the set. It’s a welcome return for one of the north’s greatest masters of din, topping off a top night.