Sea Monsters Day Seven – One Inch Badge vs Bizarro World

So, that was Sea Monsters for another year. Last night was the closing night of the festival, and was hosted by Bizarro World, a Brighton night where bands play a whole set of songs covering one band. Previous Bizarro World nights have been held upstairs at Fitzherberts, and been absolutely packed out. As well as playing the songs of another band, the acts have also dressed like like the band they’re covering.

Son Belly as James Brown

I arrived midway through Son Belly‘s set, taking on the persona of James Brown. He was wearing a purple velvet jacket, but there was no evidence whatsoever of The Funk – This was dirty garage rock’n’roll. I just about made out some of the vocals from Sex Machine amongst the clattering guitars, and Son Belly’s set was more about rocking out than honouring the Godfather of Soul.

Wytches

The Wytches took Marilyn Manson, and they also rocked hard. There wasn’t much of an effort made in the outfits – I would have hoped for gothic costumes, or maybe some freaky contact lenses. As for how faithful the songs were to the originals, I have no idea – I couldn’t name a Marilyn Manson song if you pressed me.

Sea Bastard

One of the things I love about ZZ Top is that all the members of the band have beards, except for the drummer, whose name is Frank Beard. Sea Bastard didn’t come as ZZ Top though, they came as Motorhead. They all wore Motorhead T shirts except their bassist who displayed truly heroic dedication to the cause and grew some Lemmy style sideburns. Respect. Sea Bastard turned Motorhead’s greasy rock’n’roll into heavy doom-rock. Headbanging took place on and off stage, and there was a lot of hair flying about all the way through to set-closer Ace of Spades, the track they couldn’t not play.

AKDK

In a night filled with rock music and with a name like theirs, there’s no way that AK/DK would be anything other than AC/DC. With one member rolling his t-shirt sleeves up to the shoulder in an 80s Australian fashion and the other in a faux-school uniform, and both with terrible wigs and school caps, the stage was set. To assume that the headliners would be rolling out heavy guitar riffs like the other bands would have been a mistake though – AK/DK are all about the synths and the drums. Their take on rock classics was to put them through a filter of looping krautrock, with riffs played as distorted squelchy sequenced keyboard lines, although that’s not to say they didn’t rock as hard or as energetically as the earlier acts. AK/DK did so with a huge dose of fun though, and with smiles on their faces throughout. My previous experience of Bizarro World had been that it wasn’t taking thing that seriously, and AK/DK made sure that was carrying on.

 

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The ones that got away

We wrote about loads of bands earlier this month in an arbitrary personal take on the year, but there’s been lots going on that we couldn’t include for one reason or the other. There were lots of bands who were just bubbling under, we didn’t write about any bands who were from Brighton – obviously – and we kept the list just to bands and didn’t mention venues or events or stuff like that.

We tried to have a bit of balance across our advent calendar, making sure we had big and small bands, so it was always going to be the case that there was going to be some we couldn’t fit in. As well as The Maccabees and Bat for Lashes hitting hard for Brighton, Blood Red Shoes and Orbital were troubling the charts. While we’re talking about big acts, Fatboy Slim‘s most recent Big Beach Boutique was a success not on the beach but at the Amex, where they apparently ran out of beer on the first night. On the subject of local bands in sports venues, hundreds of people braved the rain in July when Rizzle Kicks accompanied the entrance of the Olympic Torch to Hove Cricket Groung Saint Etienne were further down our longlist than the album “Words and Music by Saint Etienne” and their gig at the Concorde warranted, but with only Pete Wiggs living in Brighton, we had to prioritise bands with more local members.

Other bands with albums out in 2012 who we just couldn’t fit in were Tall Ships, Cave Painting, Ital Tek (referred to by one of my mates as possibly his album of the year), Sparrow and Negative Pegasus. When Todd Jordan isn’t being part of Negative Pegasus, he’s also one third of promoters One Inch Badge, who brought us the fantastic Sea Monsters festival at the Prince Albert as well as dozens of other great gigs, and is one of the people responsible for Bizarro World, a monthly covers gig which is so much better than it sounds on paper.

There’s a few bands who’ve caught our eye that we’re expecting big things from in 2013. Crayola Lectern‘s album is recorded and due to arrive in Spring sometime on Bleeding Hearts Recordings. We saw Dead Cars live a few weeks ago and really really liked what they were doing, but it was too late to squeeze them into our list. But if we were to be pushed to name one act whose year it could be then we’d have to say Anneka. We’ve only seen her live once so far (supporting Com Truise at The Haunt), but there was something about what she was doing that sounded so fully formed, that she’s bound to be huge.

Outside of Brighton, here’s our top ten albums and top five tracks of the year:

1. Melody’s Echo Chamber / Melody’s Echo Chamber
2. Beth Orton / Sugaring Season
3. Laetitia Sadier / Silencio
4. Toy / Toy
5. Raveonettes / Observator
6. Clock Opera / Ways to Forget
7. Best Coast / The Only Place
8. Black Reindeer / Real Life is Overrated
9. Scuba / Personality
10. Cornshed Sisters / Tell Tales

1. Mmoths / Heart
2. Blur / Under The Westway
3. Saint Etienne / Tonight
4. Minotaur Shock / Janet
5. Lee Hazlewood / Souls Island

Bizarro World (with Cousin, Speak Galactic, Black Black Hills and Negative Pegasus)

We’ve been wanting to go along to a Bizarro World night since they started them a few months ago, but this is the first we’ve made it along to. The premise is a simple one – four bands on the bill, each playing three or four songs by a famous act.

We arrived just as Cousin were tackling Pavement. We didn’t manage to get any pictures, because the night was RAMMED. The combination of a great line up, covering great bands, on a weekend, oh, and being free, obviously pulled in the crowds. It’s really encouraging to see live music being supported like this. Cousin played things with a pretty straight bat, and obviously loved their time onstage asking at the end if they had time for one more song.

Speak Galactic

Speak Galactic were up next, and tonight Matthew, they were LCD Soundsystem. The biggest surprise for me was that Speak Galactic were as bold and uncompromising as they always were, and made James Murphy’s songs their own, but at the same time if LCD Soundsystem had played them in that style, you wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. Another shock was drummer Jim Morrison taking vocals on Daft Punk Is Playing At My House, coming out from the shadows for a change. The high point of the whole evening for me was their cover of All My Friends; The slightly disorienting feel of the original being fantastic match for the woozy electronics Owen Thomas creates.

Black Black Hills

Black Black Hills came on after a short break, and each of the four members of the band were Michael Jackson, all picking their own era to dress as, which was a nice touch. Their re-imagining of their songs was fantastic – 80’s pop turned upside down to reveal a garage rock sound that not even Michael Jackson would have recognised. If their covers of Bad and Billie Jean don’t become staples of Black Black Hills’ live sets then I’ll be very disappointed.

Negative Pegasus

Finally Negative Pegasus took to the stage, fresh from playing their album launch at the Green Door Store last weekend. Negative Pegasus are Bizarro World regulars – the nights are organised by guitarist and One Inch Badge promoter Todd Jordan. Previous nights have seen them covering Creedence Clearwater Revival and Daft Punk, but this time they took on Tom Waits, calling in a bit of support from Nick Hudson on vocals. Whiskey soaked bar room drawls were swapped for a full on rock out – a great end to the night. I can’t wait for the next one, hopefully in a bigger venue so that more people can enjoy it. It’s a great concept and a real gem in Brighton’s live music scene.