Day two and I made the mistake of arriving too early. If anything can sum up the lowest ebb for me, an unreconstructed idiot, then it’s standing under a concrete sky, leaking drizzle like an elderly dog (the sky is, not me), watching a man go nuts on a piano. It’s basically one close up of a priest away from being a Swedish art film. Luckily there are vegan cakes on hand for me to plough my face straight into like a fleshy pink icebreaker.
Now listen closely meatheaded middle-of-the-road festival organisers of the world, if you are going to steal anything from Supersonic, make it the vegan cakes. And the graphic design. And the real ale. And the Iron Lung live at Supersonic 2009 LP, limited to 1,000.
But don’t steal the weather, seriously, as October bleeds out icicles the last place you want to be is standing around outside, and the second to last place you want to be is standing around inside a warehouse with the doors open, which is pretty much the pre-requisite for watching Gnaw. It’d be nice to say that the temperature contributes to the sense of dread their electronic blackened doom invokes, but it doesn’t. It just contributes to my fingers feeling like Twiglets. Having racked up some serious man-hours in Burning Witch and Khanate, Gnaw know their shit and their shit is filthy. I’m not sure what Eagle Twin know, because despite having definitely seen them I can’t dredge up a single memory of the event – they could well have been twin birds of prey for all I recall.
There’s some serious anticipation in the (Arctic) air for Godflesh and as they start up, two distant bodies enshrouded in smoke and strobes, it’s a crushing disappointment. The rigidly enforced decibel limit makes the volume in a Wetherspoons seem invasive, which coupled with the band’s anonymity leaves a disheartening sense that you’re watching a muted projection. A jaunt out to defrost the Twiglets by those smokers’ heaters that you find in beer gardens allows a minor miracle to take place, as Godflesh leap from the imagine canvas like Arnie in Last Action Hero and the rolling clouds of oppressive industrial follow them out to buffet eardrums. The anxiety of their Hellfest performance is obliterated and replaced by the first genuinely spectacular reunion show from the mighty Godflesh.
Japan’s squeaky hyper-speed cartoon noise/grind/jazz/whatevers Melt Banana unleash high octane silliness that rots the teeth. It’s hard to tell how much of Yasuko Onuki’s stage persona is genuine and how much is a knowing parody of how dumb Gaijin see Japanese popular culture, but it’s a dizzying performance regardless – like the sonic equivalent of that Pokemon episode that put kids in life threatening fits.
Oh, I seem to have accidentally ended on a high, that’s unprecedented.
Picture stolen, once again, from this superb recap of the weekend.