Hype and the Bandby Yusif Sayigh / Images by We-Are-Awesome / 23.11.2011
I dive through a glut of trendy yuppies to find my place at the bar as the band tests the sound. They start working some weird chromatic progressions that induce in me a mix of anticipation and anxiety. A feeling I often get when, joy of joys, it sounds like a band might actually rock and I’m afraid that they might not. This weird introduction diverts my attention from the (overpriced) drinks towards the band.
They kick into the first tune with feedback screaming.
Shadowclub’s music is all about sex appeal. Nearly every song is about waking up next to, or devouring some sexy morsel. There’s plenty of evidence. Almost immediately the couple standing next to me are making out like voracious animals and the urban-chic social climbers who stood at the front of the room, seemingly just to send texts, swap places with gorgeous women; boogieing like they’re at a really heavy Eddie Cochran show. A really heavy one.
Because when it comes to the live sound, these guys don’t fuck about. It’s true what they say about power-trios. Having only three members lets the band keep the music simple and strong like bourbon. They groove, stomp and sweat buzzing feedback blues-rock. Louis Roux’s bass riffing is as melodic as it is tight, rolling on Isaac Klawansky’s cowboy drum swagger.
Nearly every song they play sounds like a hit single. There is something irresistibly catchy about vocals that run the same blues licks as the guitar. It’s that delta blues thing – R.L. Burnside, John Lee Hooker – full of attitude. Obviously not all their songs do this but their singles, ‘Guns and Money’ and ‘Good Morning Killer’, are all about that harmony.
To cite their influence as simply blues is ridiculous. There is a strong dose of contemporary rock n roll á la Queens of the Stone Age, the late Brit pop-punk of The Libertines and light-garage of The Hives. These are, of course, merely conjectures and their exact influences may be far more esoteric. Certainly Jacques Moolman’s voice reminds me of both Josh Homme (QOTSA) and Justin Hawkins (The Darkness). Moolman’s voice is excellent throughout the performance and shines especially on the album in ‘Lucy’ where his previous jazz experience comes to the forefront (in texture if not in style).
Speaking of the album – though I know I shouldn’t, as this isn’t an album review – I’m disappointed by the lack of fuzz-bass and overall grit that they exude live. Another criticism is that while the band has excellent style and heaps of attitude they would do well to experiment outside of the bands/genre they emulate. Their delivery is precise and without fault but I’d be hard pressed to name them before one of the international bands mentioned above if I heard them on the radio. A backhanded insult I suppose. Would I pay as much money to see these guys live on a big rig as I would to see The Hives? Definitely.
As for the venue and the DJs, I have nothing against either of them. They are simply not my cup-of-vodka and so my opinions on them are fairly moot. Let’s just say I came solely for the band and my effort was handsomely rewarded.
*All images © We-Are-Awesome.