I am slightly concerned that…


… I preferred a support act to the headliner. Although serious kudos to, in this case, That Fucking Tank – I usually despise supports. It literally is a case of me standing, arms folded, saying “Right you juveniles, impress me!”, and they frequently don’t.

This gig took place in Bristol (as most of the ones I attend do) at the Fleece and Firkin, Friday 4th December. I had my trusty gig buddy (The Rt. Hon. Thomas J Bench Esq.), who usually expresses his intense want to attend a musical event and I am left to the particulars. But at least I know what is going on. The Fleece was a new venture for us, but a rather good one – I’d rate it far above the Anson Rooms for cosiness and above the Academy for ambience and style. I had visions of a mere handful of very dedicated fans turning up – making the main act look a little silly for more than one reason – but apparently I underestimated the talent of Lightning Bolt. Although the crowd was a 90 – 10% split, males to females. My gig research this time was intermittent – the main band in question were not altogether to my taste which led to minimal amounts of investigation, and it was almost a physical impossibility to find anything about the first act, The Hysterical Injury, but as it happens this didn’t matter for once. This was much more an evening of experience than just a mere gig!

The Hysterical Injury I was exceptionally impressed with, considering they were a two-piece, and made a much better sound than, for example, the White Stripes can. It was more refined clamour than a five year old banging a drum kit (see Meg White). Good work ‘Injury – very good stage presence and confidence too, which I find unusual in the early supports.

Maybe these are on the up, because That Fucking Tank blew me away. In some cases literally. We were standing next to the speaker. Not the most sensible option, especially considering we saved the earplugs for Lightning Bolt, but given the enjoyment factor it was definitely worth it. Despite a small technical hitch part-way through the set, they held our attention with something of a vice (ie. their talent), and provided some witty on-stage banter with LOUD NOISES that were actually SONGS too! Total value for money. I also particularly liked the stage set-up – drummer SR, guitarist SL, and.. facing each other?! But worked so well – wavelength levels were clearly high, and their live performance excellent.

Now Lightning Bolt are an interesting band. I use this term for a diplomatic stance. Playing in the middle of a crowd may be seen as different but could also just be awkward. To gain a good view, a fan even stood on the pint-rest surround on a pillar. All tables were used as view-points. Social norms were obselete by this point, and by the end of the set, the entourage (consisting mainly of the males) at the front/nearest the band represented something of a river of piranhas.  Decibel-wise, Lightning Bolt had it. It did somewhat seem like a constant stream of noise coming from two (although you may be led to believe it was more) musicians I couldn’t ever hope to see. I caught a glimpse of the somewhat creepy mask of Mr Chippendale, but I feel a safer stance was further away from the headliners as possible. I haven’t shared that much sweat with strangers since a Manics gig. Although the crowd was a huge amount more pleasant here – not quite everyone for themselves, but the maximum amount of enjoyment from the music for everyone as it is possible to have, perhaps.

Really, I’d like to give you a set list from Lightning Bolt, but it would be a grand feat if anyone could pick out all the songs (I use this term loosely) they played (again, loosely). Apparently it wasn’t all improvised. That’s not to say it was bad – au contrare – one has to give it to them for sheer stamina and clear crowd pleasing value. Evidently they are very good at what they seem to want to do (make noise!), but I still preferred our supports. Maybe I just don’t like to stray from the norm. How awfully dull of me…

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