BTJ Halloween: The Review

As promised, we asked an ‘outsider’ to provide a review, and writer/scientist James Bundy was happy to oblige. Here’s his summary:

On Halloween weekend, the Burn The Jukebox collective hosted an entertaining and diverse night that should surely begin to cement their reputation on the London music scene.

It was a relief to avoid the zombie hordes of hipster trash at Old Street (looking even more vacant and emaciated than a normal Saturday) and head straight for Charlie Wright’s International, a jazz venue set apart, both physically and spiritually, from the Hoxton/Shoreditch axis of evil.

Arriving late it was unfortunate to miss Bluebeard, who had hugely impressed at the last BTJ event. With Tigernaut, however, we were treated, as expected, to a visceral performance (and not to mention some choice face furniture from one particular member of the generally hirsute band). This is surely an act to be heard live, their precise and intertwining guitar lines complementing a rolling and propulsive rhythm section. All the requisite post-rock crescendos were present and correct, yet borne from a multifaceted and interesting approach, and not forgoing a rewarding amount of emotional tension.

Between acts various members of the BTJ collective took turns to entertain us with some classics (repeated plays of ‘Psycho Killer’ in particular kept me dutifully wailing along), and the 200-strong crowd was chatty and excitable throughout.

Human Hair took to the stage next, lead through their tight and bullish sleaze-punk set by their fire-and-brimstone styled singer. After a few issues with vocal levels had been resolved and the preacher’s proclamations were being heard at maximum volume, the frantic and enjoyable scuzz was duly eaten up by the crowd, amid much arsing about, good-natured jostling, general head-banging and spilling of drinks.

Arguably the main draw, Sunderland’s own B>E>A>K arrived colour co-ordinated and wearing, er, beaks to deliver their distinctly avian strain of energetic post-rock to an eager crowd. They brought a sense of joy and spontaneity to a genre that can often seem overly technical and obtuse, in no small part to their vibrant brass section who could be found amongst the crowd throughout most of the set. Some complained the accompanying visuals were a distraction, though watching sexy girls gyrate around in bird masks may have awoken hitherto-unknown fantasies in some of the more frustrated members of the audience. In short, it was all delirious fun.

A set by Beatloafe was unfortunately marred by technical issues in the early stages, though it was resolved through liberal application of ridiculous jungle, interspersed with his own carefully constructed originals and some other choice selections. Sometime during the set this reviewer, deep in a pear cider-soaked reverie, encountered assorted costumed oddballs,including vampires, undead smurfs, Santa Clauses, and a sinister and inscrutable individual smoking cigarettes through his black morphsuit. I think he was wearing a beret too.

To end the night, sessions by Busmonitor and DJ Cutbak used occult laptop wizardry to resurrect the dread spectre of UK hardcore in the South once more. Never an easy sell down here, but nevertheless the hammering beats formed a counterpoint to the lovely, melodic instrumental rock from earlier in the evening. This was face-melting music for amphetamine binges, crashing cars, breaking windows and killing your neighbour’s cat. A daring choice, and whilst definitely putting the frighteners on some, it inspired much arm flailing, awful dancing and battered enjoyment in the surviving crowd.

This electronic savagery came to an early end due to technical difficulties, but the day was saved by Mr Charlie Wright himself, who took the opportunity to play some more sedate choices such as ‘Sexual Healing’ (three times) and, my personal favourite, ‘Kiss from a Rose,’ as all the while little twinkly lights revolved around the dancefloor. It was quite magical.

There was, no doubt, a few technical aspects of the evening which were a weak link. However, the do-it-yourself ethos and general superabundance of atmosphere gave the evening an inclusive vibe that is often too rare on a night out in London. Roll on the next one!

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