As Friday night dawned and another working week came to an end, I headed over to Nambucca for a Freak Circus. (No, I’m not being harsh, that’s the name of the night.) I had been looking forward to this gig for a while and as many of my mates would be there I knew it was going to be a good night.
First band up was Maxdmyz, and despite the band starting a bit late, there wasn’t many people in the back room at the start of the set. This began to change steadily throughout the set and I wasn’t surprised because as soon as they began an immense wall of sound hit you straight away. Though being right next to the speakers could have had something to do with that. It was a great start, but there were a few people’s ear’s that suffered from the volume after this set, mine included.
There were a couple of things that impressed me about this band straight off; first was the speed of the drums throughout, especially the bass drums, which literally left the seats at the side shaking with the rhythm. The second was the fact that the guitarist was playing a seven string guitar. Yup, not just your average six, but seven stings and let me tell you, he was all over that guitar playing with style and ease; simply fantastic to watch. I also found it interesting how their singer switched his singing style throughout the songs; sometimes simply singing, then moving to a slightly gruffer speaking style and even throwing in a light touch of death like vocals; just a little. This brought an interesting mix into the pot as you weren’t always sure where the vocals would go next.
For me the best songs were ‘AKA’ and ‘Grieve’. ‘AKA’ was apparently the first and the last song written about a woman, and it suited the subject well as it started off with a cheeky swing to it and then brought back the fast, insistent drums and guitar. The title ‘Grieve’ could conjure up images of a slow, sad song full of melancholy, but this song takes the form of the highly emotive angry kind of grieving; it’s loud, involves screaming and is full of feeling.
By now a much bigger crowd had gathered in the back room and as the set came to an end the crowd cheered and encouraged the band to get right back up on the stage for another song – and what band could resist that? So up they got and played what they described as a jam, though it sounded far too well-practiced for that. The crowd certainly enjoyed watching this band and if you like the sound of them, they will be releasing little snippets on their site over the coming months, so keep an eye out.
Nothing Ever Change/s?
Lift Your Head
Up next was Donkerkanuffel and unlike their predecessors there was no mixing of styles; they are what they are, and that is thrash – plain and simple. It’s loud, hard and incessant. The straight forward screaming vocals were a bit of a relief, as you knew where it was going. Their music style was somewhat at odds with the visual effect of combats and clown makeup but hey, I enjoyed watching them. They got straight into their set, though perhaps could have waited a bit longer as after the first song, you hear their drummer ask if he can actually finished getting ready, and when he does he literally looks like he’s taking off behind the drums his hands move so fast (which looks a bit amusing with him wearing a hat, stripe top and makeup).
‘Duvenus Infernus’ comes later and again it feels like someone is bashing on the wall from the beat of the bass and drums. Apparently they hadn’t played this song in a while, but it sounded good to me. When the cry comes to ‘Fire Walk With Me’ I’m glad it’s a song and not a genuine request as by this time their singer is looking a bit deranged with the black round his eyes beginning to run, and if it weren’t for him breaking into a smile every now and then, you’d think he was seriously angry. This song is pure thrash and one I could definitely listen to at home; there’s a difficult sounding breakdown in one part, with a gun fire type rhythm and then it’s back to their usual style.
Toward the end they play their new song ‘The Omen’ (?) and as people begin to head bang you can literally see the sweat to flying. ‘Zombie Clown Apocalypse’ brings the set to an end and this is the kind of entertainment I was looking forward to tonight; crowd participation with everyone shouting the title line back at the stage throughout. I love music and watching bands on stage but I’d much rather get involved than just watch; it’s far more entertaining I’m sure you’ll agree – and even better with a clown horn?
Fire Walk With Me
Zombie Clown Apocalypse
The third band up to bat was Calatrilloz and this brought a completely different mix to the evening. Visually, the makeup was still there but the combats had been replaced with smart-looking suits, with a more formal white one for the singer. There was definitely a mix reaction to this band and I did wonder whether they were the right band to have on after the first two. Given the theme of the evening they fitted in well, but following a thrash band is possibly not where they should be. I know several people who did not stay for the set, however I (and many others) did, and not just because I was there to review. I genuinely found them fun to watch. The singer had by far the better singing voice of the first three bands and could clearly produce a good note and hold his own, which I really enjoyed.
This set was fast and more old fashioned rock/metal; reminding me in parts of Sonata Arctica. It managed to be fairly classical with the vocals but still metal – though admittedly not as much as the previous bands. However, like the first band, Calatrilloz threw quite a few different styles into the mix. From their set list I heard songs (or parts of them) that would not have been out of place in a jazz style, speak easy as well as having indie/grunge style elements, some definite dirty funk going on and also an old school style 90’s metal power ballad as well. Perhaps it was those elements that brought the different reactions from the crowd, but it also was that mix and the ability of the band that I enjoyed watching the most so far that evening. There was a lot to see in their style of playing as well, in the way they moved about the stage and the nice guitar work. I really enjoyed watching this band and would be happy to see them play again should they come back to this neck of the woods.
Dying Love Forata
It’s All Mine
Long Winding Road
Circle Of Sorrow
My Show My Gold
Lords of Misery
Headlining the evening was the band I and my mates had come to see; Evil Scarecrow. It didn’t seem hardly any time at all since I had first seen them play at Hammerfest, but I knew this evening would be a lot different. First of all because I was right at the front to ensure a good view and to avoid the unnaturally tall person (who followed me around at Hammerfest) from blocking my view. Second, the difference in the size of the stage.
It was a bit odd at first to see them on the smaller stage and at such closer quarters too, but it only served to highlight that they are more entertaining to watch when you can actually see everything that is going on. Being close enough to see Ringmaster Monty Blitzfist’s ever changing facial expressions is both amusing and quite frankly disturbing at the same time, especially that smile. Though given the band’s propensity for audience participation it was definitely the better place to stand if you wanted to get involved; from making way to allow Dr Hell, Brother Pain and Kraven Morrdeth to go for a walk round the front of the stage or joining in a high five’athon with Brother Pain.
I’d invited a couple of mates along who had no idea what to expect so I was interesting in seeing their reactions, and it only took hearing the title of the second song ‘Vampyre Trousers’ for one to be highly amused (I think her brain was going down the same road as mine on first hearing that). But after being amused there was only one way to go…and that was amazed as Dr Hell struck up the opening notes for the famous four note solo. Yes; four notes! Some bands may need more but it is seems four is all that is needed here, so perhaps they were the right notes. Previously I had been thinking that the drummer looked too full of energy and possibly needed chaining down for the audiences own good when I got full proof of that when, after holding up the cards to count those four notes he promptly jumped off stage and repeatedly bashed me over the head with them. (In recent weeks I have been covered in beer, showered in water and other drink, had instruments thrown towards me and now bashed over the head – this reviewing lark is a dangerous business indeed.)
‘Sixty-Six Minutes Past Six’ follows this and again the crowd is brought in to participate by yelling ‘six’ right back at them and this was clearly a favourite song for those present. Following this came a mini Q&A to announce ‘Thundercats’: Do you like Thunder Storms? Do you like kittens? (See what he did there?) Did we enjoy watching ‘Thundercats’? Yes we did! But perhaps not quite as much as the ‘Dance of the Cyclops’ with the audience being asked to grab a partner, cover one of their eyes and waltz. I have to say it was quite a sight to watch and amazing how uncoordinated people can be with one eye covered. It looked like some bizarre monsters ball had arrived in Holloway Road.
The audience participation continued with sobbing for ‘Blacken the Everything’ (which is still my favourite) and could not have been complete without ‘Robototron’. I’d forewarned my mates at the beginning of the evening they would be expected to dance like a robot but they hadn’t look convinced, so I was pleased to see them joining in with gusto with the rest of us. If I found the sight of ‘Cyclops’s’ waltzing amusing, god knows what we must have looked like to the band during ‘Robototron’.
By this time I had forgotten which venue I was in, and so great was the atmosphere that I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d turned around and see hundreds of people behind me and a much larger venue. The set seemed to go too fast and all too soon it was coming to an end – but not without Brother Pain running through the crowd handing out high fives or before ‘The Final Countdown’ gets played, and again, we all sing along to the start (I defy anyone not to). I was expecting this song, but I wasn’t expecting to join arms with those around me while we all yet again did what we were told and started a group can-can. Which looked like the most bizarre kind of moshing given the disorder of it all, but which then was followed by a bit of actual moshing by a couple who just couldn’t resist. Perhaps that’s why Brother Pain took shelter on top of the speakers? Hmm.
I didn’t expect anything less than to be entertained by this band that evening and we definitely got that. I preferred watching them in this venue to the larger stage at Hammerfest as you got to see more and with all the audience participation it makes the whole room feel part of the performance; which of course they are. This is a great band of musicians with great songs, but they also bring something much more to the stable than many other bands I have seen by the amount of involvement the audience has. At the end of the day we want to be entertained and to walk away having had a fantastic time as an audience – and if you go see Evil Scarecrow, I guarantee you’ll get that.
The only thing I have left to add is to the venues of London to look at their gig listings and clear a spot, as given the crowd’s reaction to this gig, you would be guaranteed a good turnout.
Bring this band back to London and soon!
War and Seek
66 Minutes Past 6
Dance of the Cyclops
Blacken the Everything
The Final Countdown
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