It's time to own up. I am old. Old in the head. Old like my parents were when I was still young. Old before I die. Earlier this week - for the sole reason that I was fairly certain it would lead to an episode of sexual intercourse - I accepted an invitation to a gig, despite the fact that I had never heard of the band that were playing. They were called - and unless they woke up on Wednesday morning and suddenly saw the error of their ways, they presumably still are - My Ruin. The gig was Tuesday night at the Garage in Islington.
I don't know why exactly probably because I am old and this is the way old peoples minds work but before I went I found myself imagining subdued lighting, graceful fretwork, bony white fingers and frenetic bows. Images of what I believe is called chamber music elegantly swayed and sweated through my head. Which is very odd, because old or not, I couldn't give a damn for chamber music. I like the Smiths. And BA Robertson.
Once inside the venue, I realised how very wrong I had been. It reminded me of 1988, of Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction at the Royal Court in Liverpool. Black-clad evil-looking children as far as the eye could see; dyed hair, tattoos, pissy beer in plastic glasses, safety pins even (are they back? Or did they never go away?), lots of leather, big old boots and poorly- designed tee-shirts. But in 1988 of course, I was one of those devil children. Not anymore.
By the time we got there we had missed what we assumed to be the only support act, PDHM. Oh well. Not to worry. We contented ourselves with pissy beer and wondering if I was the oldest person there whilst My Ruin prepared themselves on stage. Only it wasn't My Ruin. It was another band I hadn't heard of. It was Walls Of Jericho. According to a website called trustkill.com, Walls of Jericho are 'one of the most stalwart hardcore bands in hardcore', which, if I could honestly say I knew what hardcore was, might just begin to explain things.
Standing there, watching Walls of Jericho, I cast my mind back to the first time my dad bemoaned the state of modern music - it was probably over The Alarm or Echo and the Bunnymen. It may even have been Blancmange or the Thompson Twins. "You can't even understand the words," he said, disgusted. "And they all sound the same. Is this the same song as the last one? Are we listening to the same song again? Whatever happened to Nat King Cole..."
How I loathed him. And what pleasure it would have given me to have taken him along on Tuesday night. If he wasn't already dead, just the first bar of Jericho vocalist Candace Kucsulain's Satanic caterwauling would have seen him scrambling through the wooden floor, burrowing his way towards the centre of the earth with his bare fingers.
The thing is, it's not singing. I mean, call me old-fashioned, but isn't singing a kind of melodic, tuneful variation on talking? Is that not the idea behind it? At one stage, in a pause between the one twenty-minute song her band thrashed out, Candace said: "If you know the fucking words to this one, don't be afraid to fucking sing along." Well, *really*, I thought. First of all, there weren't any words. There *weren't*. I *swear*. I was listening really closely. She was just screaming. And secondly, there's really no need for language like that. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like a well-honed cuss-word myself. But this was just gratuitous.
Walls of Jericho were followed by a band called Murder One. Murder One made Walls of Jericho sound like Flanders and Swann. They had two male vocalists, one fairly long-haired, blonde and thin, the other enormous, shaven-headed and frankly terrifying. Here's a photo:
The blonde one seems to be missing from this picture. One can only imagine the shaven-headed one has eaten him.
Besides a charming piece of homo-erotic water-spitting and a deliciously cheeky allusion to Lars Von Trier's 'The Idiots' halfway through their set, the highlight of Murder One's performance was when the blonde singer screamed what were probably, originally at least, lyrics, and the shaven-headed one, simultaneously, just screamed. Literally. No pretence at singing whatsoever. He just cupped his microphone like a dying animal he was about to resuscitate and he screamed as hard as his space-hopper lungs would allow. It was actually incredibly funny. At least it was the first time he did it. The first time he did it, I mistook it for self-satire. Then he just kept on doing it.
Frankly he went too far.
Then, finally, when Murder One had had their fun, on came My Ruin, who were basically something like a particularly unsubtle cross between Walls of Jericho and Murder One.
Just before they came on, I got talking to a young South African chap who worked for a TV station called (what sounded like) Dominator TV. They were filming the gig. For some reason. For proof I imagine, that it had actually happened. Like you might at Agu Ghraib. I asked him what type of music this was. He didn't know. He asked the cameraman somewhere above me. The cameraman said it was kind of 'heavy metal goth music'. It wasn't. I know what heavy metal is. And I know what goth music is. This was neither. Someone else had told me it was something called 'DC Punk.' To me it sounded like death metal. It sounded like Deicide. It sounded like Satan's Music. There's obviously
something I'm missing. In an effort to find it, I just had a quick scout around online. I found a write-up of My Ruin's album on the net. Here it is:
'god dam, i love it when [Tarrie B] skreams. i heard she used
to be a rapper. well who kares, shes not one now and her album
kicks ass. she makes a girl feel so down right dominant...'
Suddenly it all makes sense.
On the tube on the way home, quite by chance we got talking to the drummer from PDHM, the one band wed missed. I asked him what kind of music I'd been subjected to all night. He was a nice bloke. Very gentle. He said: 'screaming vocals with no melody'. I smiled and wrote down his words on the back of my ticket, feeling vindicated.
I was right. It wasn't music. Maybe I'm not so old as I fear. Maybe I am. Fuck it. Never again.
Aaaah, the things we do for love.