Doldrums, Woman’s Hour, Buffalo Tide
The Shacklewell Arms, London
Tuesday, December 4th, 2012
Need a chuckle? LTW’s Keith Goldhanger gives us a humourous run down of his Doldrums experience.
You know that bit in The Office where Gervais is asked in an interview about his biggest disappointment and he wittingly replies “Alton Towers”? Well that’s been stuck in my mind for a few years now because next time I’m being interviewed for a high power job I’ve decided that my answer is going to be “Animal Collective”.
Y’see, I loved ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’ and very much looked forward to seeing them live a few years ago and oh how I stamped my feet and screamed and screamed and screamed when realizing that maybe that album may have just been a slice of luck and even though they may play again one day and sway my opinion, It really was a rare disappointing night out.
I mention this because Doldrums remind me of Animal Collective. A bit. Yes, they also sound like a bunch of blokes that have recorded themselves throwing a bunch of kitchen appliances down a flight of stairs but in my book that always sounds ACE even if that’s not what they’ve been doing in order to create the racket that I’m now witnessing before me in a cold, cold venue on a cold, cold night.
The evening starts with Buffalo Tide, a man hunched over a laptop whilst being filmed on a mobile phone by his mates (how weird would this be if they weren’t his mates eh?). The racket he’s making goes MMMMMMMmmmmm! MMMMMMMmmmmmm! HHHHhuuuuuuuuuummmmmmm!!!!!! and the open minded soul in me is rather appreciative that this isn’t yet another indie band trying to recreate the first Arcade Fire album. I won’t be queuing up for tickets when he plays again…or maybe I will turn up and just stand next to him and film him with my phone…that’ll bloody scare him.
Woman’s Hour are dead good. They’ve got the stage littered with effects pedals and there’s a guy at the back who has a table full of electronic gadgets including (puts on his “Keyboard Weekly” head…) a Korg MS10 synthesizer, which (and this is why I don’t get offered jobs at “Keyboard Weekly”) IS A SHIT PIECE OF EQUIPMENT – Yeah, I had one of those as a teenager and I kicked it around (literally) for a couple of years and then sold it for about 800 quid more than I’d paid for it (which is why i didn’t need that job!). The secret behind Woman’s hour though is that they don’t seem to be over-using any of the gear they have. A bit like the XX but a bit more jolly and a bit less jolly than the Cocteau Twins but with proper words in their songs. A sort of Dub Shoegazing sound that swept atmospheric echoing tunes around the back room of the Shacklewell Arms. This was not what i was expecting this evening …nice…very nice.
(In the front bar between bands, I sit quietly for a pint as someone behind the bar plays ‘Do They Owe Us a Living” by Crass….magic!)
Doldrums also have a lot of stuff cluttering up the stage. There’s a bloke on the left who has things in his mouth and wires coming out of everything that’s either taped down or just wobbles on the table in front of him, and there’s a bloke in the middle who on a dark night could be mistaken as that bloke Bobby who’s in Primal Scream. Bloke in middle is called Airick Woodhead and he’s the captain of this ship and what he says (1-2-3-4! and things like YYYYEEEEAAAAHHH!) goes. Bloke on the right is playing drums. The (real) snare in his lap sounds rubbish, but the other stuff that he hits lightly, but sounds MASSIVE, keeps it all together. This is the main ingredient that displays to me that they simply are not just making all this up as they go along. If Doldrums are the sound of things being thrown down a flight of stairs then its a rather small flight of stairs. The moment you’re about to point at them and go “aye aye …Now you’re just making it up as you go along…”, they all start singing in unison and in tune and you realize there’s a chorus in there…and some versus ..and real songs hidden beneath the rumble of the electronics being pressed, spun around and looped. Woodhead even has a record player with him that he’s constantly placing 12″ slabs of vinyl onto. I’ve no idea what this is doing, in fact when I watch all three members doing their stuff individually It seems hard to fathom out what they’re actually up to, but as soon as you look away and stop trying to work out what’s going on you realize that this music is the work of a genius set up, and you wonder how they came to this stage in their young lives that finally made them casually nod to each other one day and go “Yeah…that sounds good, lets see what other people make of it.” (well i suppose turning up at rehearsals on time and practicing a lot helped.)
If you’re after something different to dance to then this is it. If you’re after a bit of noisy electronica like fellow countrymen Holy Fuck, then this is it. If you want to go and see Primal Scream then go and see Primal Scream (and i’ll probably see you there). Doldrums are a really fuckin’ noisy electronic experimental dance band and don’t let anyone try to tell you any different. Soon they’ll be lots of bands like this and on the nights where it doesn’t work and you feel ripped off, you’ll dismiss it as a load of old toss. But when it works well like it did this evening it’ll blow your bloody socks off.
So take the risk. It really is worth it.
Doldrums 1 Animal Collective 0, extra time being played.
Words by Keith Goldhanger. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found here.