Posts Tagged ‘Low Key Catastrophe. Nick Hall’

It’s sad that in 2016 there should be a need for a York Stand Up To Racism benefit gig. But, as one of the speakers noted, periods of austerity tend to bring division, and invariably, race-blame is one of the ways in which frustration at social deprivation and disparity manifests itself. And so, as war rages in the Middle East and we bear witness to the biggest mass displacement of people since WW2, there’s a disconcerting negativity toward asylum seekers, continually referred to in the media and beyond as ‘migrants’ (like it’s a dirty word, and somehow associated with vagrants), with a particular antagonism towards Muslims (as if all Muslims are extremists, and that’s before we consider Christian extremism, which has seemingly been acceptable since the Crusades).

But we’re all here – and yes, it’s a more than respectable turnout – for a mix of speakers and music-makers, disparate in style but united in the opposition to racism, to social division, to stigmatism, to segregation.

It is, necessarily, a mixed bag, and some of the speakers are more compelling than others: Pinar Aksu spoke lucidly of her experience of life in the UK since arriving as an 8-year-old asylum seeker from Turkey in 2001 and living in Glasgow, and Labour MP for York, Rachael Maskell was passionate and rousing during her succinct and well-paced speech. Some of the other speakers seemed less confident, less organised and less cogent, undermining the importance of their messages. But it would be wrong to criticise their contributions: this is about inclusivity. Not everyone can be a great public speaker, but that doesn’t diminish their societal contribution. If anything, tonight’s event highlights the way in which the current right-wing government, and the equally right-wing mainstream media are exerting their control by means of slick manipulation of the mainstream media channels. Tonight is not about spin, but the voices of real people, who have experienced the traumas of racism, of war, being heard.

Of the bands, Low Key Catastrophe and Orlando Ferguson proved to be the night’s real standouts: the former, on early, and making their debut appearance had an infectious energy that infused throughout the audience. Their brand of punky / post-punk tinged dub reggae has something of an anarcho vibe to it, and while the band as a whole are busy working out some chilled grooves overlayed with some tetchy, angular guitars, front man Jim Osman is a real live wire – a charismatic performer, he’s got the kind of passion you can’t fake and is and utterly compelling.

Low Key

Low Key Catastrophe

In contrast, Orlando Ferguson – duo John Tuffen and Ash Sagar – push hard on their avant-garde credentials and are all about the drone. Summ O))) without the power chords or distortion, ‘Earth 2’ reimagined without the gut-churning metal grind, their set, sculpted with duelling bass / guitar feedback and essentially nothing else is the droniest of drone. And it’s ace. There’s no overt political message here, but it’s clear that these guys are on the side of good.

Orlando Ferguson

Orlando Ferguson

The running order changed a few times, and things were running spectacularly late, which meant that after a long day at work after a 4am start, I wasn’t up for watching ZiZ (and I’m prey hardcore about staying it out to the end of a gig). Irked as I was at times by the apparent lack of organisation, and the conversation over performers (Nick Hall, offering his own brand of Folk Rock / Americana had a particularly tough battle against the endless babble), it was a landmark night that brought people together, and that’s what matters.

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