Little Big Mouth goes on the Anti-Folk trail
Mon 22nd May Anti-Folk-Anti-Nam-Fest
Venue-12 Bar Club
The 12 Bar Club is possibly my favourite venue in this vast maze of briks and tarmac, tucked behind Tottenham Crt Rd down a piss stenched alley, in between gtr shops, once the home to a smithy, and now centre stage to a revolution in musical morality....the perfect setting for this NY based line up and lets face it, if punks had things to be angry about in 76, then there is a shit load more to be angry about now.
But where are all the punks? They obviously havent heard that Joie Dead Blonde Girlfriend is in town, or that the collective of NY Anti-Folk eclectic music makers are here to scream the message....wake up....get up....its not fuckin over.
Personally i missed the joys of gobbing at Joe Strummer first time round. I lived through the summer of 76 wondering at the infinite lace holes in me bros DMs, too young to really know what the fuck was going on, or to even really understand the complexities of the politics that lay behind a sea of God Save the Queen t-shirts and Vicious-esque spikes. I knew they were angry....and now I know why.
My first intro into this eclectic collective was thru the Jeff Lewis window. One Sat, not long ago, I squeezed down the spiral staircase into the basement of Rough Trade in Neals Yard, thru the mesmerised audience of mainly blokes and watched Jeff unfold the pages of his stories and I couldnt quite believe it was free....I wanted more.
Sick of boneheads in Gucci jeans? Sick of hair-do airheads and puppets crooning disastrous renditions of easy listening pap? Saturated by suits churning out pop masks for disposable cultures? Feelin cheated by artists whos entire lyrical content consists of sittin in waiting for the fone to ring,,,,,,,,? Then tune into Anti-Folk.... its ok to be disappointed in the system, its okay not to have a choreographer or a pension by the time youre 30..... its ok not to have had time to visit your hairdresser....er, but its not ok to sit back in an apathetic blurr of McDonalds special offers thinking that we cant make a difference....we can, after all, still try.
This Anti-Folk-Anti-Nam-Fest was organised by Sgrnt Buzz Fuzz, and although the punters were slow in arriving I was feeling privy to some special eve. First up was Sarah Loch, its always hard to open, especially to just the eager few. This was the country end of the Anti-Folk spectrum, and she included a few tunes from other Anti-Folkists, namely Fenton Law, a great tune entitled Who Am I.
Srgt Buzz Fuzz was next in line and to my relief played his gtr with no apologies accompanied by the spooky roughness of girl on a zither, the sound was almost oriental punk with strange Banshee flavours. His riffs were solid and songs such as She got the words punk rock runnin thru her like a stick of rock had me smilin and reminiscing over a time I had not shared first hand. I love acoustic/punk guitar playin, I have never been a session head guitar freak, and thank fuck, he never played one solo. Srgnt Buzz Fuzz has a lot to say about things. His intelligent observations on what the fuck were all doing here left a Billy Bragg/Jarvis Cocker/Ian Dury kind of impression. His song, Untitled 1, was a real beauty song with a drawling chorus of I could swim into you if you wanted me to, and in between songs you couldnt help but notice this wasnt no bitter phoney band wagon jumper from the East End, and I thought about the myth that punks dont care....Srgnt Buzz Fuzz does.
But it was Prewar Yardsale who did it for me from the first note, quiet and loud all at the same time, they had this stillness that always accompanies originality. The duo sang in unison, Psychedelic dont break my trip was the first Prewar song I had ever heard and I still remember it now. Dina Levy, vocals and up-side down paint buckets, clicked and hacked into the plastic, her sloppily gorgeous percussion lulled the audience into the intimacy....I wanted my own dirty old cans with a Bionic Finger sticker on the side. Prewar invite you to believe that anyone can do this....but, some are born to lead. On gtr is Mike Rechner, all fuzzed up acoustic, solid, chunky and perfect for the simple but never obvious melodies that make up Prewars Anti-Folk massive. Songs like Really Kool dont make no fuss, Shes so dead, so grave, so tread she used to be kool now shes really kool and Sheep dig/dip? shabby chic, all take the piss beautifully. Mike chugs through raw riffs head down, South Park stylie and the track Weird which starts I was dreaming of Chicago is another one to check out, in fact, just buy the whole CD and while youre at it, buy one for your mates as well.
Spray paint aint no tough bluff, Moron English Punk, delivered dead pan, lately I been lookin at him + not you, lately I been knockin your door right thru, the crowd love them. They also want more.... Pre-heat love to 15 degrees.... and then just keep cookin. Obvious comparisons The Pixies and Lou Reed, yes that NY thing, but fuck, how can you nationalise a feeling? And thats what they leave you with....a feeling youre really fucking glad you bothered to come out.
Back on stage in his comperes roll is Srgnt Buzz Fuzz, yeah, theres CDs, T-shirts and one more important ting....to entertain the folks....
Enter Joie Dead Blonde Girlfriend, shadowed by his guitar stack and brash as Bill Hicks. Hovering between the comical and the anguished his song intros bordered on stand up and his Iggy like energy wrenched emotion thru enormous eyelined brown eyes.
Where are you? is immediately in your face, the wall of stacks is producing beautifully distorted sounds and Joies playin faster, faster, faster screaming stuck in the middle of nowhere..... I think I found some 16 year old aggression he said, feels more organic-anybody like to fuck? The room was full, the Anti-folks had come, and everyone loves to fuck, dont they?
This girl kept sayin, Oh, hes soooo Neww Yorwkk, which was an obvious annoying thing to keep repeating. Cant you drop this ownership of humour?
Joie is funny. Funny and honest, angry and sad, songs explode intense and intent, you have to watch him. He does a song bout obsessive compulsive, obsessive compulsive, obsessive compulsive behaviour and speeds thru the chorus strung out on pills, strung out on dope, strung out on hope voice gritty, gravel, grave. The durgey Love Hangs Itself shows another side of Joie and he announces, this is a true story, all the rest were fuckin lies. But I dont believe him. No body does.
At least it is encouraging to know that no-one in the Anti-folk world is sittin by the fone waiting for it to ring....and certainly not Joie. Im not mad Im disappointed he is sure of this. He has the ability to write lyrics that pinch you, she speaks in tongues, I speak in sin, lets get real quiet and fuck out loud.
It seemed odd that he should be concerned about disappointing his parents, and funnily enough, I could picture him walking back across the water screamin Look Mum your sons a hit in England, but whats more, I wanted that for him.
Leaving the 12 Bar I saw Joie, we met and words seemed inappropriate, he said give me a hug and it was great to meet him briefly and no Joie, you dont scare me, you inspire me, but maybe for some people, that is the same thing.
Am gonna follow this Anti-Folk trail....
Little Big Mouth