All photos © Art Vandelay
Meat Wave | Grey Hairs | Mating Calls
Nottingham, J.T. Soar
28th November 2015
Chicago grunge-punk three piece, Meat Wave, have recently toured the UK in support of their latest LP. Louder Than War’s Stephen Murphy went along to their show at Nottingham’s J.T. Soar to see what all the fuss is about.
As music venues go, Nottingham’s J.T. Soar is a bit of a glorious oddity. Roughly similar in size, and with the same décor of a front room in a shared student house, not only is there no licensed bar (!!!), but the one solitary lavvy means that saint-like queuing skills and a bladder of iron are a definite prerequisite if you’re planning a night out here.
By most yardsticks of comfort and convenience, this former fruit and veg warehouse shouldn’t work as a space for hearing live music – but somehow, it’s one of the best gig destinations in the city. Perhaps it’s the unbridled, ear shredding decibels you can expect to be subjected to, or the charm of having to bring your own booze, but mainly, it’s because J.T. Soar exudes a thrilling, primal sense of being somewhere off-the-grid, where anything and everything could happen – including pissing yourself like a non-potty trained toddler.
On paper, tonight’s headliners – the American lo-fi, melodic noise bastards, Meat Wave – appear to be the perfect musical personification of the J.T.Soar experience, but before finding out if this is the case, there are two local support bands to wade through.
It’s a rare privilege to be present at a moment of creation. To witness an entity coming into being. To (metaphorically) see a a creature slide from its mother’s birth canal into the harsh, uncaring light of the world – blinking, mewling and covered in fucking amniotic slime. Yes, tonight marks the birth of a multi-headed beast that the world will come to know as Mating Calls.
For a band playing its first gig to paying customers, Mating Calls are astoundingly good! With a sound that can only be described as The Fall and Black Sabbath jamming in the fevered dreams of Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Mating Calls are heavy funk indie weirdies that almost defy belief with both their songwriting and musicality. The only disappointment is that their set is a bit of a truncated affair. Longer gig/more songs next time please fellas.
If the world was a saner, fairer place, Nottingham’s Grey Hairs would need no introduction. They’d already be firmly implanted in the minds of music fans everywhere – not only for Grey Hairs music, but also for the plethora of other musical enterprises band members are involved in (Fists, Bus Stop Madonnas to name but a few). Sadly, the world is fucking horrible, and despite having produced one of the albums of 2015 (the mighty Colossal Downer), Grey Hairs are still relative unknowns.
Strangely, being somewhat ignored seems to have pushed the band to even greater creative heights, with tonight being a showcase for new material that’ll make up their next LP.
Like on all the previous occasions when I’ve seen them live, Grey Hairs play like fucking demons, wrangling and walloping their instruments with the intensity of Victorian headmasters caning their errant pupils. The resulting mucky rock n’roll cacophony (think The Cramps, Mudhoney and Dick Dale in a blender), serves as the perfect musical backdrop for the vocal stylings of front man James Finley – a little fella with a big voice, and a beguilingly seductive, passive/aggressive stage presence, akin to a Jack Russell guarding a pile of sausages from another dog.
Whilst they may embody the spirit of the U.K. DIY music scene, there’s something about Grey Hairs that makes me think they won’t remain an underground concern forever. If tonight’s songs do indeed make it on to album number two, then fuck me, the sky’s the limit.
Tonight marks the second time Chicago three piece, Meat Wave, have played Nottingham in the last twelve months. Last time, it was to a medium sized crowd in The Chameleon, but tonight, J.T. Soar is absolutely packed to the rafters to witness the band’s blend of neo-grunge punk rock.
This relative upsurge in interest is probably due in no small part to Meat Wave’s recently released, and well received album – Delusion Moon. As great as the LP’s songs are in their recorded form though, they’re transformed into astonishing ones in the up-close-and-personal confines of J.T. Soar.
Set opener, the eponymous title track from Delusion Moon, sets out the band’s stall nicely. Blistering drums and jagged guitars combine to bring about a full bloodied assault on all the senses. With Network and Vacation, things get even louder and intense, with the former showcasing a filthy bass line that whilst undoubtedly is a destroyer of hearing, is also rather perversely, hip thrustingly erotic. Oh matron!
In an evening of musical highlights, it’s perhaps I’ve Got Ants, from Meat Wave’s mini LP, Brother, that takes the prize for song of the night. Taking musical cues From Nirvana’s Floyd the Barber, I’ve Got Ants is one of those songs that puts a massive smile on your face and big fuck-off spring in your step. Whilst it may put you in mind of early Cobain et al, it’s also enough of its own thing to reasonably be called ‘shitting genius’.
After pinching Meat Wave’s setlist as they leave the stage, and rather embarrassingly/drunkenly telling bassist Joe Gac how bloody marvellous his band is, I rather think tonight has been one of the gig highlights of 2015. Christ! Three great bands in a very special venue. Now that’s a night out!
All photos © Art Vandelay