I first heard of Arnocorps a while back…I thought that this was a joke band that could never be funny. It turns out that I’ve been missing the fun. I had no real interest in the support bands, however – punk is not my scene whatsoever and so The Hyenas and The Dagobah 4 were not bands I’ll be covering.
If you take Arnocorps at face value, it doesn’t look like it amounts to much. Five – or was it six? – guys in combat fatigues, face paint and with a perhaps unhealthy devotion to Arnold Schwarzenegger movies playing skatepunk. But that’s only the half of it. It isn’t just about the music. These guys live and breathe what they do – the whole act isn’t just onstage – they are like this when wondering around the venue, talking to people in fake austrian-american accents, getting the crowd ready to go.
So when they arrive on stage to their intro music, check with the crowd that they are ready, and tear into the punk-metal mayhem of Predator, it all makes sense. The completeness of the act draws you in, and the fact that everyone has a big smile on their face (well, with the exception of the band, who are doing their best to remain deadly serious) makes it all the more fun. Obviously, most of the songs explained as “Austrian folk songs” are really songs based on Arnie films – so we get Commando, Terminator, True Lies…!
The interaction between the crowd and band becomes fun to watch, too – during True Lies (see video) the band invite four members of the crowd up onstage to do backing vocals (and then they all stagedive back off afterwards to spectacular effect), later in set sees one of the band crowd-surf (literally, on his guitar case) out over the crowd, and then a humourous interlude sees two of the band “fight” onstage that ends with all-too-real injury!
The hour of the main set flashes by all too quickly, closed by the racous sing-a-long of Last Action Hero, before the band are persuaded to return for one last song – a bizarre (punk) cover of 99 Red Balloons – which is all the more surreal when you look at the stage and think – you are seeing an Arnie-lookalike bellow out a cover of an 80s Europop tune.
And that, was that. An appropriately surreal end to one of the most entertaining and fun gigs I’ve been to in bloody ages…