|Clive Henry [I think?]|
|Dutch Oven [setting up]|
Crater Lake Festival. 8th March 2014. Leeds, Wharf Chambers.
Brittle / Fettle
Filthy Turd & Yol
Paul Watson & Duncan Harrison
‘Are you writing this up?’ the Bearded Wonder shouted in my ear as Hooligan Harmonics began their set at 3.30 on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Leeds. I do sometimes write gigs up the day after so as to try and capture the spirit of thing before it departs my weary soul for some place less forgiving but for some reason I didn’t write Crater Lake up until now, six days later.
I can’t tell you why. Perhaps it was because I didn’t want to come over as too enthusiastic a Leeds noise fan boy high on the sounds emanating from the Wharf Chambers. Perhaps it was the camaraderie that wafted in the air like love sarin infecting all that shuffled in to that small room off a side street nearer the Duck and Drake as trains rattled past overhead. Maybe it was the veg curry that the WC staff knocked up from stuff bought from market stall holders across the way as they cleared their stalls for the day. Maybe it was the sight of a six month old baby sat on his fathers shoulders wearing ear defenders or the fact that I managed to park the limo right outside the venue with no fuss thus facilitating the recycling of numerous cassettes to the boot of Andy Jarvis’s car that was neatly tucked into the back courtyard of the WC.
There were countless instances as to why the 2014 Crater Lake Festival will live long in the memory and not all of them are to do with what I saw and heard. A lot has to do with who I met and what I talked about. I talked about Radio 3 and Kindles and Frank Zappa and 60ft burning bras, I talked Bongoleeros with a Bongoleero, I talked about my total ignorance of noise gadgets. There was no exact special moment that you could accurately pinpoint. It just felt good to be there.
Of the fifty or sixty people that were there I dare say that every single one of them was involved in some way or another with making noise or reporting on it or releasing it and to be there was to be a part of it, all of us with a red felt tip pen cross on their back of their hand [which I had to ask for as I got let in without one as the pen wasn’t ready yet ‘oh we know who you are’ said a friendly face].
But without anything decent to listen to this would be just a reciprocal circle jerk exercise. Thankfully it was anything but. And like the Bearded Wonder I am not going to sit down and give you a blow by blow account of what it was I saw between the hours of 3.30 and the exact time that Filthy Turd and Yol took a bow at around 8.30 as that would be stretching your patience and my capabilities of recall. I don’t take notes. I do take a few pictures but they usually turn out crap. I’m here to report that the Leeds noise ‘scene’ is as healthy as I’ve ever known it and that the Wharf Chambers is a friendly venue that sells Sam Smiths beers for not much money and that Crater Lake attracts people from across the country, some of who turn up to play, others to watch and listen.
They’re an appreciative audience too. Applauding three blokes [including Cann] who kneel stage front, backs to the audience [au natural] to modify the wheezes emanating from their mouth organs, there’s three ladies who take a table full of toys and gadgets and a coffee machine to make gurgling, ticking, rummaging, throbbing sounds before handing out the coffee they’ve made. There’s collaborations aplenty which gives people the chance to experiment, be it with balloons, tapes or someone whose work they’ve admired. One half of Chastity Potato plays with his boxer shorts on his head, Hobo Head build to noise nirvana utilising strobes, Slow Listener leans into a machine that oozes samples of his own voice, Paul Watson [The Baron] tries his best not obliterate Duncan Harrison, Clive Henry takes a leaf out of the Shimpfluch Gruppe book with a sit down, fall down performance in which he plugs in a cardboard box on his lap before tumbling head first in to a flight box all whilst making lots of noise. What everyone had been waiting for though was the Filthy Turd/Yol collaboration. With a thin strip of tin and a fork Yol produces some incredibly painful squeals, couple these to his Tourettes like delivery and you have the prefect match to the masked Filthy Turds suitcase full of junk overloaded cassette gubbins. They’re true professionals and they have a set list which they stick to. They wander amongst us waving hand bells, screaming and shouting, Filthy wearing a bog seat around his neck. Filthy picks up whats left of an electric guitar and bashes out a song. Hank Mizell’s Jungle Rock bleeds from the speakers as if its being blasted by an elephant gun. Filthy points at us, rubs our ears. Yol’s neck muscles are fit burst the tendons standing out like suspension bridge wires.
Beery arms are thrown over shoulders, hands are shook, friends are made for life. They’re an appreciative lot the Wharf Chambers crowd. I wish I could have stopped and soaked up the rest of it. After five hours I was but getting in to my stride but I had to nip and shoot.
The only person who seemed to be struggling was Pete Cann himself whose birthday Crater Lake celebrates. A bout of illness had left him feeling less than 100% but he battled gamely on. He also lost money. A £5 entry fee for a full days entertainment is ridiculously cheap and the shortfall needs to be made up. So if you want to help him out you can paypal him some much needed cash to his email address pete_cann [at] hotmail.co.uk