Yet another visit to Wharf Chambers, and yet another fantastic lineup for a gig. King Orange I know and really like, Femur and FUS are bands that have been on the ‘go see them list’ for some time – friends have said I really ought to see them – and Desenser were completely unknown to me.
Desenser – from Sheffield – kinda live on that crossover of riffy grungy stuff, hardcore metal and punk. As that might indicate it’s loud, bloody loud with full on screamed vocals.
But it also has a huge load of raw energy and that ‘on the edge of falling apartness’ thing, a band pushing it to the edge – and indeed over that edge. The energy visually comes from their singer, who is almost constantly on the move, on and off the stage.
I like some bands who do what Desenser do, some not. Desenser I liked. Seeing for the first time I was only able to form an overall impression but this is a band who can play and it’s a great live experience.
So this is what I actually wrote as I stood and watched and listened to FUS:
“I am not, if I’m entirely honest, sure what to say about FUS. I mean what in the living fuck are they doing. It’s all constantly changing tempos and styles – fast and thrashy, acidy blues, and what the hell let’s throw in something jazzy, what about something funky.
“If anything the closest I can come up with is Zappa, a bit of The Fugs, a touch of the musical madness of The Goodies, and possibly some Captain Beefheart. The words are on the verge of being absurd, possibly even childish, and sometimes definitely not safe for children.
“Covering a Taylor Swift song is strange but then again perhaps not, and it’s not a straight cover by any means.
“This is up there in the list of ‘strangest things I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard some strange things in my life. What I can’t work out is whether this is absolutely fucking brilliant, or just chaotic silliness that just isn’t for me.”
Talking to the gig’s promoter after the gig I said that I was still processing FUS. To a certain extent I still am. The longer I think about the band the further towards ‘this is absolute fucking brilliant’ I go. One thing that helps that is that the three of them can really, and I mean really, play. The sheer musical skills on view were a joy to behold. Another thing that helps is that remembering their set makes me smile, and perhaps I’ve got too used to ‘serious’ music that I’ve forgotten that music can be entertaining sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of musical silliness.
I think I need to see FUS play again, now that I kind of know what they do, now that I know what to expect, to fully process and come down firmly on the scale of ‘I really like this band – I don’t like them’. What I can say is that I’m really happy I had the experience of seeing them, so perhaps I do know where on that scale I am – the fucking brilliant end.
The more I see King Orange the more I really like what they do. I get that post-punky thing they do, I get that they mix it up with something kinda poppy. I have fallen somewhat musically in love with the vocals, the clever drumming, that throbbing bass, and that stabbing, whirling metallic guitar.
Their sound is once both sparse and rich. There are layers of sound but somehow there’s space for the individual instruments to shine out. But when this band launches into a bass heavy thundering riff you feel that power in your gut, in your soul.
While the band do that ‘not saying much, just play the songs’ – the individual songs, while having that King Orange style, are discernible as separate entities. There’s variety in their songs.
Visually they basically sing the songs, they let the music dazzle us. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all, when the music is this good.
They end their set with their single ‘English Earrings’ and live this has an extra edge of sinister, a note of menace over and above the recorded version. People, just go see King Orange, check out the single, it’s classy stuff.
Femur are one of those bands that I’ve wanted to see for ages. Why I don’t know, it’s just that the vibe on the street says ‘see Femur, it’s an experience’. Was I disappointed, did |I regret that urge to see them, nope, this band rock.
They play a kind of doomy psychedelic garage, but it’s doomy. It whirls and swirls. It’s a sound that you want to dive into and go deeper and deeper into it. From the moment their set started I was totally hooked. You may ask yourself why their guitarist starts lying on the stage, I did, briefly, I came to the conclusion why in the hell not.
It’s a sound so thick it has a physical presence, you can feel it move over you, through you. The waves of sound are hypnotising. Tearing yourself away from it requires actual physical effort.
I managed briefly to tear myself away and scribble some notes, they say
“Oh fuck this band are so great, so good, so brilliant. It’s post-punk on acid (that’s that doomy thing they have), it’s garage taken to an illogical extent. It’s The Doors if they had gone further and deeper.
“It is a glorious wonderful sound that batters its way into your soul as well as your ears. It’s completely fantastically beautifully relentless”
And yet in all that you can hear that individually the band can really play – the guitar is wonderful, there was some rather wonderful cymbal playing at one point. And their singer has a really great voice, there is a slower and sparser song where you got to hear that.
I can already feel the start of an overwhelming need to see Femur play again. This band are addictive. If you haven’t seen them yet, you need to see them, you must see them.
All photos on this page © Frank Roper Photography – see many more from the gig on his Facebook Page