Sunday, 26 July 2009

Supersonic Festival - Custard Factory, Birmingham 26/07/09

In a rare feat of economic acumen, I decided to just go to Supersonic's Saturday this year, which meant no Goblin (they're on the Sunday) unfortunately, but there's a recession on and all that, and Saturday had the bulk of the big draws for me so there you go. And here I go, off to bloody Brum again, home of metal.

After ordering a pint and being told by the barman that it was four quid, and him even adding in a thick Brummie accent that 'it's dayloight robberoi', I was thankful I'd smuggled a hip flask full of Sainsbury's own Bourbon past the docile security guards. Four quid. Jesus. No worries though, the sounds of the Flower/Corsano Duo offer a relaxing start to proceedings, their freeform space jazz ambling along very pleasantly indeed. They're an entertaining sight to behold too, Corsano clearly having a ton of fun playing around with his kit, laying rags around and putting pans on the skins, while Mick Flower kicks out his leg like mule and freaks out on the synth.

Diagonal seemed worth a watch going by the blurb in the booklet but turns out they weren't. A lot of people on stage doing not much to get excited about. They sounded a bit like a crappy Goblin, at least for the bit I watched, which only served to remind me that I wasn't going to see Goblin this weekend, so I left and checked out Tartufi, who weren't much more entertaining - just middle of the road drone guitar with some dawdling drums. It wasn't that it was bad, it was more that it was so slow and quiet they might as well have not been there. Partly the fault of the PA and sound engineer I reckon.

Nevermind eh, a quick trip to Birmingham's optical nightmare The Bullring to use the facilities, and it's back in time for The Master Musicians of Bukkake, whose name I won't explain because if you don't already know what bukkake is then consider yourself lucky. Congregating on stage in red silky robes with white quaker hats and black netting over their faces, they look like Satan's beekeepers, and they call upon their gilly suited frontman with an alpine horn. Sounding laid back and woodlandish, like Earth reached the end of the dusty plains and headed into the lush forest, which makes sense considering the band is largely made up of Earth and Burning Witch members. The theatrics are pretty stupid but the band sound great, so it's with some regret that I drag myself away to see Nisennenmondai. Not too much regret though, seeing as last time I saw Nisennenmondai I considered it to be one of the greatest things that had ever happened. This time wasn't as awe-inspiring as the first, that's probably too much to ask anyway, but still these girls are great to watch, each one perfect and individual in their style and supremely tight knit as a group. It's euphoric trance music, but not like the shit that's usually associated with those words. This stuff is genuine, and genuinely uplifting.

And so on to something totally different, Iron Lung are the sound of violence. Incredibly brutal drumming and harsh guitar noise, it's hard to believe there's only two of them, so powerful is their assault. The fact the drummer is the size of a gorilla probably goes some way to explaining it. Fucking hardcore. After a brief sojourn to the car to refill the bourbon, and a brief visit to the burger stand to eat a shitty patty, the first of the big names is due on.

There's a lot expected of Thorr's Hammer for a band that was only around for six weeks fifteen years ago, perhaps understandably so, given the credentials of the members and what they've done in the interim. But any worries they might not satisfy were crushed as soon as the first string was struck. An unfathomably heavy set ensued, Runhild Gammelsæter producing deep, blood curdling vocals from some hidden pit within her slight frame. It was clear everyone on stage was enjoying the reunion as much as everyone off stage, O'malley and Anderson particularly relishing the opportunity to play something a little faster paced and less straight faced than their Sunn O))) excursions. Heads banged steadily throughout.

Back on the outdoor stage with the crappy sound, Zu were heavy rocking their stuff, stomping on everyone's ears with a tight laced boot of bass, the sax squealing over the top like a spectrum loading cassette gone off its spool. I'd have stayed but something special was about to begin over on stage 2. The elusive, anti-everything, Japanese doomsayers Corrupted play their first ever UK show. Playing slower even than any of the recorded material I've heard of theirs, they create a wall of sound so heavy it subsides and shifts under its own weight, a crushingly beautiful end of days soundtrack, that should have marked the end of this day. Unfortunately Monotonix got that honour, and how disappointing they were. I loved Monotonix when I first saw them, and I enjoyed the second time well enough (although the novelty had started to wear thin), but this time it seems the inevitable has happened. They've gotten too cocky, too predictable and too big for their boots. They're barely a band anymore, certainly the singer might as well not have a microphone seeing as all he uses it for now is to bark orders and insults at people. Gone is the feeling of spontaneity, the bin on the head of the drummer is now so rote they bring their own with them. The pint stealing, the mooning, the standing on the kick drum, it's all an attempt to distract you from the fact that they sound like shit, the arrogant guitarist's riffs are uninspired and the drummer, who seems like he is a pretty good drummer in all fairness, never has his kit in one place long enough to play it. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against bands being mental and causing mayhem, I'm a fan of that in fact, but this is all so contrived and predictable now it doesn't seem like fun, it seems like a sweaty guy rubbing his back on your face, because that's exactly what it is. It's not enjoyable, it's not funny, it's not my idea of a party. All it is is just plain boring. And without decent music to back it all up I can't see them lasting much longer.

So that was it, we walked out and I fell asleep in the car while being driven back home to London. A one day festival for me this year, and a pretty fucking great day it was too, all things considered. If Supersonic keeps it up, it's on its way to being pretty much the best festival going. Finally someone giving ATP a run for their money. Next year I wanna see Zeni Geva and Sleep. Go on you can do it. And a Swans reunion. Ha.

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