After a dozen shows bearing feedback, bustle and furore, The Basement Club turns a year old.
And what a way to celebrate: the second performance of the year from a taut, ragged and angst-y Graham Coxon (tonight playing under self-chosen pseudonym, 'Black Saveloy'), with full backing (Steve - drums; Owen - guitar; Toby - bass); a rare London outing, and second Basement appearance, from the press-adored, Bognor Regis dwellers of noise, Kill Kenada; magnifico, blaring, blues-y downtrodden-ness of Domino Records' latest muso-strumpets, Archie Bronson Outfit; and a UK one-off from the Raphael-produced Satellites - who fly over especially for this evening from Mallorca; all capped with a DJ dual-off from MTV2's honcho-presenter, Zane Lowe, and head of programming, Will McGillivray.
... Add to the equation a full queue (and yet another sell-out for the night), free balloons and sweets for all, let alone in-between (eclectic) disc-spins from The Mean Machine, and you've got yourself a somewhat alluring feed for six hours of jovial partying...
Musically, from the get-go, it's unrelenting stuff - and, sheesh, isn't Jordi of Satellites a somewhat peculiar fellow; he kicks and leaps and howls and whines and charms us in between each noisy combustion of scattered guitars, pulsating bass and headache-drums that the band provides, forcing the likes of chilling, flamenco-styled instrumentals, crashing freak-outs during a brooding 'Eddie Vedder' (sung by guitarist, Michael), and a climactic close within the gleaming elevation of 'Come Shining' to transcend into the stuff of legends. The audience's collective jaw drags across the bear-soaked floor. Added to the mix an avant-garde, guitar tussled and - frankly - bloody noisy ending, and this is intrinsically genius juice for the mind and soul.
Archie Bronson Outfit are similarly doing this the weird way; a prosthetic goose perched upon an amp-stack, allowing our three-piece to seem reminiscent of a prepubescent, bearded British Sea Power, and a shit-load of three-minute belters: all charging percussion and grappling, colliding strings and hoarse vocals. It's the sorta grisly dream that you adore Domino for - and a sure-fire merge of the contemporary and classic that prevents wearying artistic nonchalance... Score.
Then the nuclear-bomb - an ever-defiant Kill Kenada. Not content after garnering favourable reviews across all sectors of the rock-press, having unleashed one of the year's finest debuts via 'Choke', or simply slaying us in the news that they're still unsigned, KK bombard us with phoney American accents, almost head-teasingly complex time-signatures and abrupt pauses, openings and instrumentation-bouts that leave you in a state of transfixed bewilderment. Only three of the buggers too, yet the loudest thing heard all night.
But then, of course, the clincher - and a surprise too, for those that hadn't heard the rumours. Established as one of the quintessential, great British guitarists of the past twenty-five years, Coxon locks down immediately within a first live-performance since April, his foursome collectively kicking out a thrashy 'Escape Song' with dignified distaste, quickly following with four, bruised yet beaming, new songs - namely, the infectious stomp and golden solos of 'No Good Time', or self-explanatory punk-ode, 'Spectacular'.
Then a coupla of the oldies - the disaffecting scrapes and shuffles of a downward-glancing 'I Wish' (the recently deceased Elliot Smith given a worthy mention mid-flow) and Mission Of Burma growler, 'That's When I Reach For My Revolver': enough for the attendees near the front to unleash a stealthy mosh and wobbling of bodies, one motion that reaches fever-pitch during the vicious instrumental-assault of 'Fags & Failure' and wrestling intensity of 'Who The F**k?'. Ending on a further new song from his forthcoming, Stephen Street-produced, fifth record, 'People Of The Earth' is a protesting shout to Coxon's non-preferred, worldly ills, and a fitting close to an oft surprisingly abrasive, pummelling set.
We then party... like it's our birthday (cuz it is), and we all get very stoopid indeed - some of us (Zane Lowe) escaping the decks in preference to converse and speak with friends and new associates, a few of us (Will McGill., MTV) keeping the ambience to that of rapt and celebratory due to an ace selection of discs, and the rest drinking as if tonight was our last chance.
Come 2am, we call it a night and head off, a year's worth of deafening guitars and echoing vocals still ringing in our ears. Thanks to everyone involved in the past twelve months - and, especially, the performers and attendees themselves... Cya next month for the start of a new yearly calendar of sound - we can hardly contain ourselves.
Photo-Credit: Ian Rendall of Grassroots Xchange