Chrome Hoof/Mugstar/Dogshow/The Laze

The Masque, Seel Street
10th November 2009

Reviewed by Spoonboy

The re-opened Masque has installed a new PA system, and I have to say that it has made me realise how shit the sound is at most gigs I go to. I don’t want to sound like an old man (because I am one) but where is the pleasure in having your eardrums shredded by a lot of trebley noise?

The Masque also seems to be putting more effort into stage lighting, as even the non-headliners at Music Week were getting nicely lit. Bathed in red, The Laze looked totally awesome and their inventive, Zappa-esque instrumentals were as faultless as ever. Occasionally their precision and power has too much metal machismo for me, but they finish on a tune with a stunning Day In The Life-style crescendo at the end.

Now I don’t know about you, but what I’m looking for in this whole music-related local underground culture thing is a sense of mystery. Something to add a little intrigue my Liverpool dream. And the next forty-five minutes gives it to me.

The mystery of Dogshow is how a trio of (let's face it) uncharismatic individuals manage to create a sense of such…IMPORTANCE around what they do. Maybe its ‘Hal’, their visuals vortex - basically a conical screen for visuals - adding a mesmeric momentum to the organic techno trip.

Maybe it’s that they refuse to reveal if this is a rave, or a gig, or some kind of indoctrination ritual, complete with subliminal messages channelled via the aforementioned device.

Maybe it’s that drummer (and what a drummer), centrally placed, stripped to the waist, giving it the holy four-to-the floor - and hardly breaking out of it at all (but when he does, those whip-tight improvisations are right on the money). They know what they’re doing. And I never will - that’s the appeal.

Here in the Masque, we can almost achieve a flavour of the legendary nights in The Kazimier, Dogshow’s very own imaginarium in Wolstenholm Square. The voiceless pulse of the music, the sense of occasion, the participation of the crowd giving rise to…’the unspoken thing!’ - a spiritual connection achieved by all the participants.

They really should have been allowed to play for two hours at least and extend the whole party. ‘Cos they are a band that exists outside of time.

The first band tonight, and their followers, were an example of a tendency that will always be with us - manly rock men that want architecture in their music. That like structure and find sexiness in hard things, the slam of a door or some battlements. They want to build their music. In contrast, Mugstar want to find their music. Or even for it to find them.

Their experimentalism is hugely epic tonight.

Like Dogshow they know how to s-t-r-e-t-c-h time. Like their krautrock forebears, they know the value of repetition, a holy pursuit. The more you repeat something, the better it gets.

I’m swooning already and maybe it’s the gin. And Pete’s howling over an ever repeating, jagged three-note riff. We all know that it’s heavier than any metal and as beautiful as a good shit

This is as close Mugstar ever get to a song – Pete is howling down some sound-stretching effect, like a ghost lost in space. They have a nice projection of glittery stars and as I bask in the wonder of it all, I find that not only have they stretched time, they have also stretched space.

The auditorium is at least ten times bigger than I thought it was. In fact we’re in the Hollywood bowl or somewhere. The night is beautiful and my mouth is gaping and I never knew that arty rock could do this.

Headliners Chrome Hoof had been described to me as a more commercial a.P.a.T.t., with a similarly eccentric cast of members delivering multi-layered cosmic noise, so I was ready to be impressed.

Here they are, and…my god - about ten people are crammed onstage in metallic space warrior costumes…and check out those two slow-motion dancers perched on either side above the stage, preening and coiling under electric blue lights.

Yeah ok, so maximum visual effect, but do they sound any good?

Well, drink had by now reduced most sounds to glue, but for the brief time I watched them, Chrome Hoof struck me as a pretty empty Sun Ra rip off. “Look at us…we’re so weird…”

I see from MySpace that they’re from London, and that makes sense – the capital of style over content. The lead vocalist was thrashing around in every direction trying to find a purpose, but half of us were probably looking at the dancers.

My verdict: a waste of Bacofoil.

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