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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Sea Monsters Day Six – One Inch Badge vs One Inch Badge

Saturday night was One Inch Badge’s own choice of local bands. There was one change from the original line up – unfortunately Soccer 96 couldn’t make it, but we’ll get to that later. Queues were building up before the doors even opened – After a Source cover and loads of storming shows, The Physics House Band are one of Brighton’s hottest tickets at the moment.

Luo

Luo

Luo were the first band to play. They mixed glitchy electronica with lush guitars – think Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross remixed by Plaid. It wasn’t all instrumental though – they were joined onstage for a track by Jacko Hooper, who played earlier this week. It was all really lovely stuff, who I’d love to find out more about, but search engines are no help whatsoever (“Did you mean ‘Lou’?” – No Google, if I’d meant Lou, I would have typed Lou).

Squadron Leaders

Squadron Leaders

Next up were The Squadron Leaders, a surf rock three piece. I had a glance at their set list before they started, and wondered how they were going to play fifteen or twenty songs when most other bands were only playing five or six in their allocated sets. The answer was that they sped through their short songs, barely stopping for breath. The crowd loved it, but it was a little dispiriting to hear references to the Pulp Fiction soundtrack – there’s a whole genre out there beyond Dick Dale.

Ed Prosek

Ed Prosek

The extra act on the bill following Soccer 96’s cancellation was Ed Prosek, who acknowledged that an acoustic folk act didn’t quite sit  with the rest of the bands on the line up. Ed’s Californian optimism meant that he was undeterred though, and the crowd soon warmed to him and his band made up of cello, double bass and mandolin. The highlight of their set was a cover of Paul Simon’s Homeward Bound, currently featuring on a cheese advert. Obviously.

Phoria

Phoria

Phoria were on the bill at October’s Source New Music night last year, but I was a bit distracted and didn’t really pay enough attention. What I missed was ambitious, intelligent songs, aiming for somewhere between Coldplay and Radiohead. Epic stuff.

Physics House Band

Physics House Band

The stars of last night’s show were The Physics House Band though. On paper they could sound difficult – non-standard time signatures, jazz, prog… In reality, they’re a fantastic prospect. Each individual player is a virtuoso, but they aren’t just tremendous musicians individually – together you won’t find a tighter set of musicians. But it’s not all just about the musicianship, their live show is also one of the most energetic in town. Being an amazing band is about being different, and being better, and Physics House Band have that in spades.

Sea Monsters Day Five – One Inch Badge vs Slip Jam B

Friday Night was One Inch Badge vs Slip Jam B night at Sea Monsters, which meant a bit of a change from all the bands with guitars we’ve seen all week.

DA-10

DA-10

DA-10 kicked off proceedings, one of only two dance acts on the bill (the other being AK-DK on Sunday night). I’m a bit surprised by the lack of dance acts across the bill, but as someone pointed out to me last year “if you’ve got any complaints about the line up, why not program a festival yourself?”. So that told me. Anyway, I really enjoyed DA-10 last year, and they were even better this year. Big fat bass, beats made on the fly which have developed from last year’s house to include more two-step and breakbeat rhythms, and big party tunes.

Rum Committee

Rum Committee

Slip Jam B nights are run by members of Rum Committee – a collective of MCs and DJs. At one point there were over eight people on stage, which pushed them a little bit closer to the monitors than they were used to causing some ear bleeding feedback. “At our nights we don’t have feedback” said one member, which was a bit disrespectful and showed a lack of understanding as to how feedback happens. It was all a bit of a shambles – during the first song one member looked like they were texting someone, and a random got up onstage and started talking to members of the band who weren’t rapping at the time. Maybe that’s how hip hop nights work, but it wasn’t for me – I ducked out for a bit a nipped over to a free gig taking place at the Green Door Store.

Almighty Planets

Almighty Planets

I came back for Almighty Planets, and I was glad I did. There’s been a party funk / hip hop shaped hole in the Brighton music scene since Mean Poppa Lean split last year, and Almighty Planets do a pretty good job of filling it, managing to do so without being such a novelty act (let’s overlook the lead singer’s trousers falling down halfway through the set). Bonus points have been awarded for their cover of SBTRKT’s Wild Fire which closed their set.

Suave Deboniare

Suave Deboniare

Last act on was Suave Debonaire, who didn’t seem exceptionally suave or debonaire to me. He was a great rapper though. He was joined onstage by a DJ, and another MC, and rapped with lyrical dexterity worthy of his headline slot. He mentioned that he’ll soon be emigrating to Australia, which will be a big loss to Brighton’s hip hop scene.

Sea Monsters Day Four – Punk vs Hardcore

I need to preface the review of tonight with a bit of an admission – I’m not really a fan of really heavy music. I’m not an angry man, and when push comes to shove I haven’t had life too bad. I don’t really identify with all that – it’s another world. In my write up of last year’s Sea Monsters, I dodged this issue and put up a gallery instead. Maybe this year I should write things up through this prism.

If Heroes Should Fail

If Heroes Should Fail

I missed Loose Lips – it’s still a bit snowy in the back streets behind Coombe Road, and I was digging a car out of the snow. I arrived in time for If Heroes Should Fail, who were very angry. I’m not quite sure what they were very angry about, because I couldn’t make out a word of what was being said. The vocals reminded me of a toddler having a tantrum, where you couldn’t work out what they were upset about because they were incomprehensible through the crying. Solid rhythm section though.

Broker

Broker

Next up were Broker. They were angry too, but they went to the trouble of explaining what their songs were about. They were less cliched too – less about vests and tattoos, and the note I made midway through the gig said “Bassist moustache envy”.

Gnarwolves

Gnarwolves

The last band of the night were Gnarwolves, who were less hardcore punk, and more punk pop. They came on stage and the audience  surged forward. Their tunes were far more melodic and accessible, but they still rocked hard. So hard in fact that they managed to break a guitar. A loan from one of the other bands saw them swiftly resume their set. The crowd were getting kind of crazy, so I made a quick exit while my camera was in one piece.

Weekend Gig Picks

So, in our weekly post about which gigs you really ought to be heading out to at the weekend, the top of our list is the series of gigs we’ve been writing about all week. Sea Monsters carries on until Sunday, with the Punk vs Hardcore night tonight, One Inch Badge vs Slip Jam B tomorrow, One Inch Badge vs One Inch Badge on Saturday (headlined by Physics House Band), and One Inch Badge vs Bizarro World on Sunday. We’ll carry on reporting on these on the night as we have been so far.

Other choice picks we’ve spotted are Catherine Ireton at Theatre Royal tonight, and Verity Susman at the Green Door Store on Friday night, which is a free gig. With any luck, I might be able to pop out of Sea Monsters and nip from the Prince Albert across the road to catch a bit of this.

Sea Monsters Day Three – One Inch Badge vs Love Thy Neighbour

After yesterday’s snow debacle, I had no trouble getting to the Prince Albert for tonight’s One Inch Badge vs Love Thy Neighbour Sea Monsters night. It was the night I’ve been most looking to based on the bands who were playing, but that’s not to say that I’m not looking forward to the other nights to introduce me to new bands.

First up was Jacko Hooper, a singer songwriter type, one man and his guitar. He had a great voice and at times, his guitar playing was stunning. His blurb cited Jeff Buckley as an influence but I was hearing more Jose Gonzales – a great voice with nice acoustic flourishes. My only concern was the his hoody was worn in the same way as Rylan from X-factor.

Jacko Hooper

Jacko Hooper

The second band on the bill were Plasticine. When they were setting up, I saw four boys in skinny jeans preparing their instruments, which is a bit of a pet hate of mine. Thankfully Plasticine were much better than my first impressions, and were very enjoyable to watch. However, their mini-biog says that they are carrying the Britpop baton, but my memories of Britpop have more singalong choruses.

Plasticine

Plasticine

Holy Vessels were up next and played a great set of breezy country-folk, which drew heavily from last year’s Last Orders at the Marshall Arms album. It was their bassist’s last gig with the band, and a big chunk of the audience had come specifically to see Holy Vessels (including a number of people who stood right at the front and spent most of the gig taking photos on tablet phones). In a parallel universe, there’s a twin sibling of Holy Vessels where the lead singer hams up the “holy” part of their name and dresses as a gospel preacher and exalts the audience to join them in their journey. In our universe however, the lead singer keeps his eyes closed while singing and is more than polite between songs.

Holy Vessels

Holy Vessels

The big draw tonight was Abi Wade, who’s come a long way since we first saw her playing the acoustic slot at a Source New Music Night back in 2011. Easily the most obvious choice for the headline slot (despite her modesty), Abi engaged with the audience, who were awestruck by her talent, not just in her original cello-as-percussion-and-instrument setup, but also in her new set ups, introducing samples and programmed drums into the mix, or switching to piano. I’ve said it before and no doubt I’ll say it again, Abi Wade really is one of the most engaging performers Brighton has, and you really should go and see her live.

Abi Wade

Abi Wade

Sea Monsters Day Two – an apology

Apologies for the fact that there’s no Sea Monsters review from last night – it took me over three and a half hours to get home from work, and by the time I got back, I wasn’t in the mood for going anywhere, nor would have I wanted to subject myself to any more time out in that weather.

So no review of the One Inch Badge vs Teen Creeps night. Nothing about Great Pagans, Tiger Cub, Traams or Negative Pegasus. It was one I was really looking forward to – I’ve heard so many good things about Traams. Although one of the things I’ve heard about them is that they aren’t from Brighton, they’re from Chichester, so who knows if they made it to the gig either?

Normal service will resume tonight, I promise!