There are constant reminders of an apocalyptic future for indie labels in particular as the stampede towards digital music gains ever more pace, so it is also good to see some labels still thriving. This year is the 10th anniversary of Monotreme Records, and to celebrate they put on a show in London with three of their bands – headliners being of course the jewel in their crown, Sheffield’s post-rock titans 65daysofstatic.
Relentless Garage, London N5
10 April 2012
[Note: Review since corrected after it was pointed out I had covered Reigns rather than Midas Fall, as I initially put it. Sorry folks!]
As is too often the case in London, I simply didn’t have the time to make it for the first band Midas Fall, but we did catch second support act Reigns. Who were, well, not a band to enjoy in a venue where everyone is chattering. Generally quite quiet and delicate sounding, their post-rock sound was definitely on the prog side, but there were elements of other bands to hear in the mix too – there were definitely nods toward the headliner’s more mellow moments, and the guitar sound didn’t half sound like Explosions In The Sky. But still, they were certainly an interesting band at points, albeit one perhaps best enjoyed alone, on headphones.
No such problems for 65Daysofstatic, of course – a band who have long had a reputation for being one of the most exhilarating live bands around (one whose reputation stretched to them supporting The Cure a few years back). I’ve seen them more times than I can remember now, stretching back to the first time supporting The Mad Capsule Markets nearly eight years ago.
And over that eight years, the band have evolved and changed perhaps more than many other post-rock bands have done, ever. Initially heavily guitar-based, supported by an electronic base and glitchy rhythms, they have steadily morphed into a broadly electronic act, quite remarkably keeping their intensity in the live show. However, this was the first I’d seen them in a few years – the last time was before I moved away from Sheffield a couple of years ago.
Dance Dance Dance
This Cat Is a Landmine
One thing that stood out straight away – the band are just as popular and adored here in London as they are in their home city. And in the few years since I last saw them, the move towards electronics seems to have accelerated that little bit more. So in the first few songs, pounding beats and rhythms outnumber guitars a bit, and as amazing as it is to watch and hear, it all feels a bit cold.
Things do warm, though, particularly with the utterly ecstatic build and rush of Dance Dance Dance, one of those reminders that no matter what tools 65DoS use to build and play their songs, they can hit peaks that few other bands can even see. Much of the set, too, was built around the latest (now three years old) album We Were Exploding Anyway, but other stuff did get a look in, including at least one song from the recent Silent Running score that they did – and which suggested I probably missed a trick in not seeing them perform it.
I’m not going to lie, though – I was hoping for some old stuff at some point, and while it took a while to come, it was worth the wait. This Cat Is A Landmine hit the heights I’d been hoping for all evening, before things closed with an-oh-so-slightly muted Retreat! Retreat! – not that that stopped the crowd from going nuts as soon as the sample kicked in at the beginning. Better still was the closing Radio Protector, an impossibly pretty, melancholy song that seems to have closed the main set of 65DoS shows ever since it first was released. And with good reason – showing that when the band show a little restraint, they can have even more of a devastating emotional impact than with the louder moments they made their name with.
There was one last song, though, and that was a lengthy, euphoric take on Tiger Girl, the band leaping around the stage between instruments, lost as ever in the music as it spiralled towards a close. And what a close, too. Proving yet again that this band, still, is unstoppable, even if they aren’t quite the band that they first started out as. But hey – we all grow, develop and evolve. And this is what 65Daysofstatic have done. And even if I can’t love some of the new material quite as much as the old, they are still an astonishing, life-affirming live band.