Fuck Buttons | Cuts: Trinity Centre, Bristol – live reviewFuck Buttons | Cuts

Trinity Centre, Bristol

6th  2014

Fuck Buttons returned to Bristol last week to play a phenomenal, nay, euphoric set that clocked in just shy of two hours. Ably supported by Cuts, the latest band to sign to Geoff Barrow’s Invada label, Louder Than War caught and loved every minute of it. 

Golly it felt like I’d been waiting a long time to see Fuck Buttons playing live again. Three times in 2013 I ‘nearly’ saw them – twice up in Manchester and once down amongst the rolling hillocks of south Somerset as headliners for Arctangent festival. I say “rolling hillocks” but “rolling hillocks my arse…” struck me as a more appropriate description as I admitted defeat on my forlorn attempt to cycle down there. That evening, while nursing the cramps, a friend told me “I’ve never heard of anyone cycling to a music festival before”. I resignedly pointed out “You still bloody haven’t mate” as I shifted said peas from my left gastrocnemius to my right. Or vice versa.

BUT enough about failed attempts to see Fuck Buttons. Last time I SUCCESSFULLY saw them they were playing the same venue they were playing tonight, fully five minutes by bike from my front door and a grand total of zero rolling hillocks. Support for the evening back then (21st April 2010) was none other than Factory Floor, and if you’re thinking “fair lineup that” then join the long list of people who’ve made that same observation. Contender for gig of the decade that was, and although tonight’s support may not have been Factory Floor, or even “a” Factory Floor (you could tell cuz Andrew “I’m a Fuck Button” Hung wasn’t wheeling away dancing to them as he was to Factory Floor circa 2010) they still proved a mighty worthy support.

When set times were announced a couple of days prior to the show there had been mutterings along the lines of “wonder why Cuts’ set is so early when only two bands are playing”. Well, as the evening progressed that became obvious (a nearly two hour set from FBs in case you’re curious), but it was still a shame that, unlike Factory Floor three years previously (last time I mention that gig, honest), there weren’t more people in the venue for what was ultimately a really strong debut home city gig from a band who, with the support of the mighty Invada Records label, are definitely going (to go) places.

An early set time of 8pm (due to the nearly two hour set from Fuck Buttons we were going to be enjoying later) meant that sadly unlike Factory Floor three years previously (last time I mention that gig, honest), there weren’t many people in the venue for Cuts, who nonetheless proceeded to entertain us with a really strong debut home city gig.

You might imagine from a band who dropped four great videos (see one of which below) in pretty much the first month of their existence proper, Cuts rely heavily on the audio-visual. The trio (or, as they were for half their set, duo) were striking enough themselves (masks and everything!), but ones eyes were still drawn as much to the impressive videos being projected behind them, shot around Bristol and filmed largely in good old black and white. Conspicuous though the videos were though, they still didn’t distract from the music, which involved feedbacky, shoegazy guitars overlaid with dolorous, vaguely industrial electronics, both of  which worked off and with each other nicely. Every so often the two guys on guitar and electronics would be joined by a gal on hushed, inturned (and conceivably interned too) vocals and the whole created a feeling of your being crushed by something vaguely ominous. With the support of the mighty Invada Records label behind them Cuts are definitely going (to go) places. Good stuff.

 

Around 8:10 Fuck Buttons took to the stage for a set that’d last a good 90 minutes before a break of, ooh, 2 minutes gave way to a (rare) encore. From the off, any sense of our having been pleasantly oppressed by the music half an hour ago was immediately dispatched, soon to be replaced instead by the trademark “reach for the sky” layered, euphoric drone of Fuck Buttons. Not that we were immediately transported to the blissful state one tends to reach an hour or so into a Fuck Buttons set. It usually takes time for an audience at a Fuck Buttons show to reach the optimum mindset of being able to thoroughly meld with the complexities of their sound, especially when there’s a wee technical hitch early in their set as tonight.

Visually we were in traditional Fuck Buttons territory, that being one created by a smoke machine churning it’s guts out and a backdrop of what seemed vaguely like your computer’s screen saver circa 2004 over which were laid real time silhouettes of Hung and Powers, who themselves were largely hunched over their respective setups, pushing in and out with the music.

The PA at Trinity has come in for some stick in the past, but it was in fine form tonight, as a cursory glance at comments on Twitter post-gig showed. Hec, even I felt a bit pummelled by the volume – and my hearing’s so shot to shit these days that I only ever usually suffer tinnitus at Swans gigs. The one quite serious technical glitch, mentioned above, came during the second track of the evening, Brainfreeze, which was a serious bummer as it kind of spoilt a track I’d been told to especially watch out for. So serious was it in fact that heads even stopped bobbing briefly, but thankfully it went away almost as soon as it began and wasn’t to reappear.

 

The set was largely borrowed from last year’s album Slow Focus and yet they appeared to be playing heavier, warped versions of each track, with the ultimate effect being that it seemed as though we were experiencing industrial remixes, an effect reinforced by a heavy emphasis on gut rumbling subs. The high point for me came midway through the set when they launched into Flight Of The Feathered Serpent, although The Red Wing was bonkers too – and as usual, crowd pleaser Surf Solar went down extremely well.

At 10:40 they rolled off stage with a quick raise of a beer bottle (Andrew) and a “thanks” (Benjamin). Despite us all knowing Fuck Buttons don’t do encores we hung around anyway. And bugger us if the guys didn’t return to render us a version of Sweet Love for Planet Earth which proper put the seal on a great evening.

P.S. A quick shout out to the woman with mobility issues who came to the front just before Fuck Buttons took to the stage carrying a chair and a crutch. She sat for a couple of mins by the stage before the start, then proceeded to spend the whole of the gig stood on the chair high fiving Big Jeff. As someone who suffers from mobility issues myself, and as someone who could normally under no circumstances stand for 90+ minutes, I can assure you she wasn’t blagging her way to the front to get a great view stood on a chair – music by bands like Fuck Buttons can make you do what you’d normally consider impossible in this respect. Coupled with endorphins released by dancing, live music is one of the best forms of pain relief I’ve found, simply because it totally takes your mind off other messages being sent to the brain. If you don’t believe me get your mate to punch you in the face before your next gig and see what happens. (Don’t really).

~
 

Fuck Buttons website is here: fuckbuttons.com. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Cuts website is here. They’re also on Twitter.

All words Guy Manchester. More words by Guy can be read here. He tweets as @guid0man & uses Tumblr.

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Guy is a former full time member of the Louder Than War editorial team, who's since moved on to pastures new. Music's been a large part of his life since he first stumbled across Peel on his tranny as a fifteen year old. His whole approach to music was learnt from Peel in fact, which includes having as inclusive a taste in music as possible. Guy devotes most of his time looking for new music & although he's been known to say "the only good music is new music" he pretty much accepts this is bollocks. Favourite band The Minutemen.

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