Pandamonium Day 4: Krakatoa, Hawk Eyes, Sissy & The Blisters @ The Bull & Gate
aaamusic | On 08, Jan 2012
London, 6th January 2012
The other day I was in Denmark Street, that haven of guitar shops, and I overheard a man at the counter bemoaning the death of rock n roll in the face of a lazy music business and a fashion for electro and techno. And although I agree that the mainstream music business has been sliding into apathy for as long as I’ve been part of the London rock scene’s furniture, I would strongly disagree with any suggestion that rock is dead, and the stellar lineup of Pandamonium Day 4 offers not one, not two, but three reasons in the same night.
First up were Krakatoa, a band who seem to play a gig every other night, and I’ll say that it has definitely paid off. When I saw them the first time, I felt their sound wasn’t as tight as it could be, but this time round, it was excellent. The ska rhythms were tight as a vice operated by an anaconda, and the songs as a whole just felt like they made more sense this time. Not to mention the sense of wholehearted enthusiasm the band threw into the set, despite being the opening act. The Clash feature heavily in their sound, as does Babyshambles, but they are quickly becoming a band unto themselves, with their smart, snappy rock.
Hawk Eyes continue to impress me. When they first came onto my radar as Chickenhawk, I was interested in their stuff, but couldn’t help but feel that something was still missing. A name change and a new EP later, I think they may well have found what they needed, and as a result they have become one of the best heavy bands around, blending fast-paced metallic riffs with an intensity bordering on the terrifying. Songs like ‘Crack Another One’ and ‘Mindhammers’ may hold a bit more readily identifiable melody and a darker, more ominous tone, but the fearsome energy ran as a blistering constant throughout the whole set, and even at the most insane levels of aural fury, you can’t help but feel glued to the songs as all four band members go straight for the jugular.
Sissy & The Blisters too are one of my big tip-offs for the upcoming years. Although they approach music from a rather different angle, with a scuzzy garage-rock n roll vibe being their weapon of choice, they are just as passionate and exciting to see live. Songs like ‘The Wolf’ hold a sinister, moody edge to them, and ‘We Are The Others’ and the fantastic ‘Let Her Go’ are explosive songs with fuzzed-out riffs and an electrifying energy that makes it impossible not to mosh or dance or sing/shout along or just do something after the first ten seconds. There have been a lot of Nick Cave/early Horrors comparisons floating around, but neither really does this band justice. For one thing, their songs are much better written than early Horrors, and more fun than a fair amount of Cave’s stuff. There’s hints of earlier Stooges, Cynics and Lords Of The New Church too, only with a sharper, tighter feel to them, a great sense of how to write a menacing yet immediately catchy rock hook, and a powerful presence on both stage and record that marks them out as a fantastic band in the making.
Rock is dead? Far from it! Although they each have their own take on rock music with very distinct and diverse styles, Krakatoa, Hawk Eyes and Sissy & The Blisters share a full-blooded passion for what they do that proves there is plenty of fire and fight in today’s music scene, not to mention talent and dedication. And if you need any more recommendation as to why you should check out these three bands right this second, even though I got knocked out at the end of the third set, I can wholeheartedly say it was a fantastic night. Today’s headache and bruised face are entirely outstripped by a continuing faith that great music is truly alive and well.