Hoggs Bison are up first and I’m really pleased to get a full set with them after only managing to catch the last 5 minutes of them at the Trumans Water gig late last year. They are firmly rooted in the early 90’s school of understated Post Rock instrumentals and that to me is no bad thing as they are good at it too, very good actually. If you are a fan of Slint, Tortoise and early Mogwai et al I’d say you should try and see Hoggs Bison live. Definite thumbs up here.
Repo-Man are without reservation fucking ace. They have been going since 2011 and with three albums already in the bag I have to admit I’ve only recently discovered them. They are all charged and abrasive guitars, skittering drums, urgent yet tuneful bass and all topped off by the considered and brilliantly delivered invective of front man Bojak. Think Long Fin Killie via Blurt, The Fall and mid-eighties Sonic Youth and you won’t be far off. Watching them is a complete joy and I can’t think of any other bands I’ve heard recently that are working this area of noisy songsmithery so well. In a world where chancers like Black Midi are so lauded it’s criminal that bands such as Repo-Man are left on the side-lines and left off national airplay, come on DJ’s please sort your apathetic attitude to quality rock bands out there is a huge demand out here for it.
Michael are like a gang of good-natured hooligans on a mission to ensure everyone gets off on the tomfoolery they bring along. Bands as a rule don’t normally limber up on stage, here the bass player does a few leg stretches while one of the guitarists strips down to boxers before putting on his ‘guitaring apparel’, tucking his replacement leggings into socks all the way up to knees like faux plus fours. It’s not a great look and he knows it.
They open up with a rollicking Leaf Blower Tragedy and pretty much work though the entirety of the new album in random order from there. Some of the numbers are reworked and it’s clear that despite the continual antics they are capable of improvising at will, at the top of their game and completely on it. The audience having kept a respectful distance from the low stage are encouraged forward and various band members leave the stage to carry on playing from amongst the crowd throughout the set.
There are some hilarious moments tonight, ridiculous backing vocals that I’m sure no other band would either consider attempting or being capable of pulling off, guitarists playing each other’s instruments without actually bothering to swap them first, a couple of team huddles while songs carry on and some solo’s while doing a dying fly impression. Tonight is a complete high-energy hard rock ride. It’s completely unpretentious, a lot of bands could learn how to have and how to create a good time from these boys. It’s over too soon of course, but what can you do? It’s only possible to keep this pace up for a limited time without having a heart attack. Here less is definitely more.