To The Bones @ The Queen Of Hoxton
aaamusic | On 29, Nov 2010
London, 24th November
Embarking on a UK headline tour in support of their blistering new ‘Astral Magic’ EP, To The Bones were tempted into yet another Shoreditch bar venue by their friends at Artrocker to play the New Heavy Sounds night, an event already graced by the likes of Tweak Bird. Yours truly got lost on the way to aforementioned venue thanks to the labyrinthine nature of the neighbourhood, but found myself in the neon-lit, glittering innards of the venue, which combines trashy glamour with trendy stylishness and a rather formidable sound system to create a suitably dark atmosphere.
The opening act were Bad For Lazarus, 40% Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster and 100% absolute insanity, their set lasting a mere twenty minutes, but what a twenty minutes! Combining the psychopathic rockabilly energy of the earlier 80s Matchbox material with the horror movie campiness and organ keyboards of The Fuzztones, and the searing riff assaults of heavy metal, they come off as an incendiary force somewhat akin to a satanic pub rock band on amphetamines. Despite the clear mastery of their music, they didn’t tear through the material so much as it tore through them, the band members appearing to be physically thrown about in inhuman ways by the sonic schizophrenia they created. As they quietly unplugged their instruments and left as if nothing remotely approaching the awesome onstage bedlam had occurred.
In the case of such a fearsome opening act, a headline band can do one of two things: play it safe and risk wimping out, or rise to the occasion and give it all they have. To The Bones very much opted for the latter, playing their already uncompromising material with all the searing intensity and passion needed, and then some. Kicking off with ‘Astral Magic’, they blasted out each riff with total conviction and a mesmerising aura of malign strangeness that suits their dark and often surreal lyrical matter. Aiding in this nightmare atmosphere was their decision to bring their own strobe lights, emulating the flickering lights in their video for ‘Y-H-F’. It can safely be said that the band have decided to experiment further in melody and stage atmosphere recently, however the raw and bloody heart of their music is still beating very close to the surface. Tracks like ‘Y-H-F’ are given the rabid fury treatment, transforming from sinister to scalding as the band are not content to just let it loose but catapult it screaming into the audience, propelling its riff-laden exoskeleton straight into the audience through caustic vocals and titanium riffs. As well as the whole EP tracklist getting an airing, favourites from the band’s album got a standout rendition. The twisted rock-out ‘Rex’ was unleashed with gleeful energy, and once again ‘Lips On Red’ was the cue from vocalist Rhys Bradley to stalk amongst the audience like a menacing shaman of heavy metal as the band held up a manic tapestry of riff and rhythm. ‘Cay Augustina’ was another blistering standout, with rock-solid bass avalanched upon the listeners alongside scuzzed-out Motörhead grade distorted guitarwork and some savagely graceful drumming. The set did not slow up for a second, with the “slow one” turning out to be the return of the abrasive, bile-spewing ‘Tycho’.
A feral and addictive celebration of all things loud and heavy, ‘Super Rock’ provides the perfect summary of the night. Straight and to the point? “Rock the fucking shit out.”
Author & Photos: Katie H-Halinski