Posts Tagged ‘Bilge Pump’

Christopher Nosnibor

Some bands, you only dream of seeing. Others, not even that: the possibility doesn’t even exist as a bubble of thought, for one reason or another. As one of the most wilfully obscure acts to emerge from the early 90s scene, Trumans Water have forever existed in the latter category.

After achieving a certain cult cred in the music press with their first three releases after John Peel went ape over their debut, Of Thick Tum, which he played in full in release in 1992, they seemed to deliberately sidestep the limelight with the series of improvised Godspeed albums on minor labels, and after departing Homestead after 1995’s Milktrain to Paydirt album, they more or less seemed to vanish into the underground of their own volition. There’s a certain logic to this: their last album was released nine years ago on Asthmatic Kitty Records, and probably sold about as many cops as my last book., even though Drowned in Sound were nice about it. And so they’re playing at Wharf Chambers in Leeds, which has a capacity of maybe 100 while they tour for the first time in ages to support nothing as far as I can tell. It all seems quite fitting.

It’s a killer lineup, too.

Husband and wife duo Pifco crank out noise that’s pure Dragnet era Fall, and they’ve got the 3R’s (that’s Repetition, Repetition, Repetition) nailed, with dissonance and scratchy guitar clanging over motorik but hectic drumming .

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Pifco

This is the third time I’ve seen Bilge Pump this year after the Leeds legends returned to the fray after some time out. They haven’t been anything less than outstanding on the previous occasions, and it’s a record they maintain tonight. It’s no their first time supporting Trumans Water, and they’re very much a complimentary act that sit between the cyclical repetitions of Pifco and the jarring angularity of the headliners. They also play hard – guitarist Joe’s shirt is saturated by the time the set’s done – and they’re also an absolute joy to watch, a cohesive unit firing on all cylinders.

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Bilge Pump

Trumans Water are also tight and cohesive – remarkably so, in fact. But they hide it well, sounding like they’re completely out of tune and out of key and often playing three different songs at the same time. Some of that’s down to the simultaneous vocals that don’t exactly combine to create conventional harmonies, while a lot of it’s also due to the unusual guitar style: I’m not sure of half the chords are obscure or made-up, but every bar conjures a skewed dissonance. But they are tight: the constant changes in tempo and off-the-wall song structures are brain-melting, and how they not only shift instantaneously, but play an hour-long set of sprawling freeform angularity without a set-list is remarkable.

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Trumans Water

Trumans Water have never really sounded like anyone else. Pavement comparisons don’t really cut it on close inspection: whereas Pavement were genuinely slopping in their playing early on, Trumans Water would probably align more closely to freeform jazz and Beefheart at his oddest.

It’s a riotous blur of jolting, shouty, brain-melting racket that runs into one massive sprawl of crazed anti-music. And it’s an absolute joy.

Christopher Nosnibor

Shirt status on arrival in Leeds: moist, and particularly damp on the stomach and lower back. It’s another humid hot day and half the trains re screwed and the other half are packed solid. It’s going to take a lot of £5 pints of Amstel (well, it’s that or Strongbow or Strongbow Forest Fruits) just to replenish.

Sandwiched in between Black Grape, Cast, and Dodgy on Friday night and Leeds Pride on Sunday, this new local talent showcase pitched some incongruous alternative acts alongside a bunch of names I’d never heard of. But I figured the ones I had heard of were more than enough to justify the trip over from York, with Dead Naked Hippies being incentive to make for an early start.

As a band I’ve seen play a venue smaller than my living room to fifteen people, as well as regular reasonable gig spaces, their outdoor performance at Long Division in May proved that they’ve got the chops to go big. And Millennium Square is big. And as expected, the trio fill the stage with noise and presence. The dense, gritty-as-fuck guitar that also fills the space in the of bass is immense even outdoors. ‘Dead Animals’ provides an early afternoon family friendly crowd pleaser. Lucy Jowett’s in fine form as always, and ends the set prowling the front rows, her wanderings only limited by the length of her mic lead.

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Dead Naked Hippies

Tommy Monaghan is pleasant but mediocre, with a static bassist and some bad shirts proving more interesting than his accessible pub gig fare that would probably be able to work its way into the charts given a suitably R1 friendly production.

I know it’s poor form to judge a band on appearance, but with the white shirts and rainbow braces and a sax/harmonica player in their numerous ranks, Hobson would never have been my choice. But their gutsy brand of country / folk rock is infinitely better than their presentation. That the singer’s teeth are whiter than the shirts is quite something, and they kinda spoil the ‘all originals’ pitch with a well-executed but uninspired rendition of ‘All the things that I have done’ by The Killers as a set-closer. It goes down well, though.

Tyrone Webster is probably Leeds’ answer to Craig David or something. Only his laid-back soulful pop packs some woozy sub-bass and trip-hop beatage. Final song and current single ‘Crippled’ is pretty meaty and emotionally wrought, though.

SCUM are barely old enough to have been born, but kick out fiery, politicised 3-chord shouty punk. The nagging repetitions hint at The Fall played with The fury of Black Flag. The songs all clock in at around a minute and a half and are played at 100mph, and despite the massive stage, they’re utterly fearless and totally ferocious. It’s a rush, and maybe there’s hope yet. These kids are certainly alright.

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SCUM

Isaac Saierre’s slick brand of r’n’b was never going to do it for me, but people stuck out the onset of rain for his set brimming with covers. This, right here, reminds me why shit like The Voice is popular.

Afterwards, Girl Gang DJ Emily injected some alternative cred back into proceedings with a selection of indie, post-punk and riot grrrl that was most welcome.

Inching into the evening stretch, Victors arrive with an array of sportswear, beards, and man buns, looking like some kind of hipster math-rock E17 to roll out some smooth sonic wallpaper.

Thank fuck for Magic Mountain. The local supergroup, consisting of Tom Hudson (Pulled Apart by Horses) Nestor Matthews (Sky Larkin / Menace Beach) and Lins Wilson (who seems to have involvement in infinite projects, including Music:Leeds), kick out heavyweight psychedelic grunge bursts with energy and riffs galore without sacrificing melody or hooks. They’re tight on schedule and promise to power through the set – and that’s exactly what they do.

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Magic Mountain

Treeboy & Arc’s spacey motorik post-punk has power and energy, and the scrawny guitarist (who’s sporting a Zozo T-shirt) races around the stage like he’s possessed and they thrash away maniacally. On paper, they offer nothing musically that hasn’t been done before, but to deliver it with such vigour is petty radical and entirely engaging. How have they bypassed me for so long?

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Treeboy & Arc

The first (and last) time I caught Cowtown was supporting Oozing Wound at the Brudenell. I’d enjoyed their set enough, but they seemed an ill fit for a dirty US thrash band. In context of tonight’s lineup, they sit a lot more comfortably with their high-energy, jerky rockabilly indie. ‘Tweak’ mashes together The Ramones with the Bangles, and is fairly representative of what they’re about – which mostly is uptempo fun.

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Cowtown

There’s something amusing about someone with a cut-glass accent on stage at a show celebrating Leeds music announcing headliners Bilge Pump. They slay, of course. But let’s unpack this a bit. Bilge Pump. Playing in Millennium Square. It’s crazy. But cool. So cool. Primarily active in the first decade of the new millennium, their angular noise rock found them a cult following and favour with John Peel, scoring a handful of Peel sessions, bowing out in 2010 with the EP The Fucking Cunts Still Treat Us Like Pricks.

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Bilge Pump

No two ways about it, comeback album We Love You is a blinder, and recent shows have been pretty special. But, not to denigrate their achievements, they’re very much a smaller venues band. And yet here they are, on this immense stage with the biggest crowd of the day – and it’s really quite substantial, especially considering they’re up against Flipper at the Brudnell – and they absolutely kill it. Joe O’Sullivan’s guitar is blistering as the throws squalls of noise – and himself – in all directions. It’s a blast – somewhat surreal, but a blast. And ultimately, Bilge Pump headlining in Millennium Square on a Saturday night in August encapsulates everything that’s ace about the Leeds scene.