Tuesday, May 08, 2012
The Last Night of the Broken Flag Weekend.
Attending the last night of the Broken Flag weekender felt a little like gatecrashing a party in its last death throes. By all accounts the previous two nights had, for the most part, divided opinion with Consumer Electronics getting more mentions than most with a typical performance during which the audience were called a bunch of cunts. For some it was the highlight of the weekend so far and encapsulated BF perfectly; a blunt instrument to the face, whilst others thought it was nothing more than juvenile crowd baiting performed by an overweight man drooling onto his tits. Con-Dom and Grunt were raved about, others less so. I’m sad to have missed the best bits but then three nights of full on noise related antics was always going to be more of an endurance test than a weekend of joy and as things conspired against me it was taken out of my hands anyway. For some, three nights weren’t enough with the night preceding it offering the delights of a full-on PE gig in Dalston. The offer was taken up by some and you could tell who they were come Sunday night.
Six hours was enough for me. By 11.15 Ramleh had completed a shambolic rock set and with one eye on the clock, an aching back for company and several pints of Guinness inside me I decided to head for the last tube rather than endure a TNB performance that would have given me a headache for a week. With no seating available at the Dome [the shitholes actually had more seating than the venue] I was creaking badly from about Club Moral on. The sight of people sticking their heads in the bass bins during the Ramleh rock set did lighten my mood somewhat but it wasn’t enough to save me the hassle of having to fork out a taxi fare back into central London. In true rock gig style the volume leapt 50% for Ramleh and the sound improved no end. The bass sounded particularly impressive, its just a pity that what was being played on it didn’t match what the drummer was doing. At one point Mundy unplugged his guitar and took a walk across the stage to no doubt ask his fellow band members just what it was the fuck they were doing. Best added some electronic noise, sang some of the vocals and rounded things off by telling the audience that they’d just played a cover version of Close to the Edge, I think. By this time Mundy had already put his guitar down and walked off stage leaving rest of the band unaware of his departure.
Club Moral didn’t do anything for me either. Tall thin bloke shouting into a bucket of water whilst female band member stage left produced electronic squiggles on her laptop. And then he began to hit himself in the face with some flowers. This was after he’d eaten a few of them and spat the chewed up remnants into the audience. If they'd have been roses it would have made it much more interesting. My biggest problem with Sunday night was that I arrived thirty years too late. If I’d have been around when Gary Mundy began mailing out his duped cassettes in 1982 then it would have been a more rewarding experience, as it was seeing Danny Devos eat flowers meant nothing. Some would call it performance art.
At least I made the connection with Sigillum S who deeply affected me in the early 90’s. Their's was a performance that took me back to the days when each doormat laden jiffy bag contained almost illicit thrills of joy. A unique mixture of grating electronics, screamed vocals, industrial rhythms, ethnic instruments and deep bass pummel that when matched to a queasy back drop depicting death, viscous dogs and earthworms added up to a spine tingling performance and one that saddened me only because I wish I’d have seen them before tonight. Its got me digging out their old releases which is what 30 year anniversary shows are all about, connecting with the past, celebrating the past and hoping that there’s a future too.
At least the Dome is a decent sized venue with a decent sized PA. Giancarlo Toniutti did his best to hammer everyone's eardrums into submission with it by producing a dense rumbling hum upon which he chucked in all manner debris. Playing from the back of the venue facing the stage, he used a set of speakers behind him to augment the PA and for what seemed like half an hour battered everyone senseless. I saw people lie down so as to be able to take it in a more relaxed fashion and wondered if their backs hurt too. The quieter segments of the Putrifier set were drowned out by audience-propped-on-bar chatter which was a shame as those quieter acousmatic/electro-acoustic/analogue moments are as integral as the louder ones. Everyone seemed eager for more noise.
Earlier in the evening we had Vortex Campaign whose guitar/laptop axis rarely rose above ‘quite interesting’ and show opener Tommi Keränen who after a short pedal noise orientated set left the stage shaking his head in the time honored 'noise artists equipment fails again' fashion.
Reading the forums it would appear that TNB were either all half pissed or part taking part in a carefully executed anti-performance; equipment fails, dropped gadgets, slapstick ... with hindsight I wish I’d have stayed to cheer them on but hindsight's a wonderful thing when you’re rested at home 48 hours after the event.