Writing about bands and their gigs is something I’ve never taken to before. Until I saw Sly and the Family Drone and their support acts. I’m here, then, to tell you about them. Or rather, my experience of them.
Yet, before I begin, you’ll need some back story to events just prior to the gig. They’re important not so much to you, the one of five readers reading this, but to me, the one writer so amazed and astounded by what he heard and saw that night.
I had driven myself to the venue having only gained my licence the Wednesday before. It was a private little celebration to me, as it would be the first in a long list of gigs I could get to myself without having to ask or rely on lifts. So I was quite happy. I even put on my favourite silly shirt for my own little one-man party.
What confuses me is when I arrived at the gig, I started to have some kind of attack of mind. Maybe it was anxiety. Maybe post drive nerves (if such a thing exists). Maybe it was something called social anxiety which I’ve heard affects many people. Maybe I’ve had it ages and just never cared for it. Whatever it was, it had happened just there and then before getting out of the car. I couldn’t think straight. My energy had plummeted. My enthusiasm for anything was gone. I felt pale and sick. With no justifiable reason why coming into thought. So I just said to myself ‘f*** it’ and went in.
But I found talking hard. My thoughts were locked into the previous moment, and all I could think of was if I should ask anyone if they had felt something similar and what it was. But couldn’t. It felt like a weird thing to ask and I don’t like making people feel awkward at the best of times – but I seem to do it too easily. Familiar people were about and I just couldn’t seem to let go to enjoy their company. As the encounters went on, all I could dwell on was that moment in the car where breathing was difficult and my heart was hammering.
So. Forget being social. I couldn’t do it there and then. I gave up on it. I could listen to music. That’s why I was there.
And what sweet sounds I heard.
The first band – if they consider themselves a band – called themselves Lust Rollers. They are many things by their own definition, including “idiot scrapers, blowers and bashers”. You can take that literally, as well.
I won’t lie… when I saw one member – who I’ll call Blower for lack of a name – randomly flicking between frequencies of some electronic gadget throwing off white, pink and blue noise with no actual rhythm or intent to groove, I immediately thought this was a troubled man. His sporadic twitching, his convulsed stabs at the instrument I suspect he created in some mad lab was reminiscent of the movements expected of a medium taking possession of some demon spirit.
I’m standing there, wondering what this all meant, trying to discern what words I could from the scrabble of static; ‘And he was in me, completely’ - then more static – ‘before exploding’ – or something like that. I’m not sure. I lose the memory. Or deleted it.
As this happens, some unheard of climax prompts the other member, who up until this point had remained silent. I honestly thought him an avid fan, like some apprentice in awe of his master, this maniacal wizard of sound. But he wasn’t a spectator. I’ll call him Basher. And Basher explodes his stick onto a snare drum.
Ah, I thought, a cacophonous duet.
Here we have Blower picking up random objects. Are they vibrators? He places them in Chinese gongs, letting them oscillate around, creating a din to which he accompanied with a milk frother to a bin lid. Or a battered cymbal. Basher keeps us all occupied by throwing tin cans and other metallic objects onto the floor and kicking them at the gather crowd. A crowd stood silent. A crowd with fingers on chins in thoughtful musing. I expect they, like me, are trying to make sense of the scene, like a congregation of detectives searching for clues almost.
But that’s the point! What I’m hearing, and seeing, is not music as you might traditionally know. What we have here, is a visceral de-construction of even the idea of music. Watching Blower and Basher, I suddenly realise the only tradition here is that they are in unison. Yet even then, they’re discordant. One is in the front, one behind, then they swap, then they’re together – there is no harmony or communication, but there is not battle either. It’s just noise, and respect for that noise. Music, but also no music. What I hear is the void inside myself manifested. And the best part is, that at some point, they just give up on all this and hand out bread and cheese.
This is the best gig I’ve been to in Aylesbury in all my life. I decided there and then that I’m going to reject being social, and focus on this complete annihilation of my own ideas and thoughts of what music is “meant” to be. Watching the Lust Rollers had opened my mind a little. I wanted my mind to open further.
For the next ten minutes, I listened to music you could stab people to. And this is music. What the Lust Rollers have done is destroyed your sense of style and groove, and replaced it with a violent din. You could dance to it, but be prepared to throw yourself into some weird shapes, and risk tearing your limbs off. Much like how Scraper goes about beating that snare drum. I see, then, that he is in some zone of his own. It’s as if whenever he plays something that even resembles a beat, he curses himself and smashes that rhythm to pieces by tickling the side of the drum with his stick. It’s not hard to imagine that there is some kind of sexual energy here, an orgy between Blower and Scraper and tin pans, old cymbals, violins made from cardboard boxes, broken radios, paint pots, vibrators, Chinese gongs… The amount of objects is bewildering. Most musicians go to a music store. Lust Rollers go to a scrap yard. Everything they use to create their sound is broken and otherwise useless. Perhaps another point? An environmental one? Perhaps…
This is what makes this stuff music, because Blower and Basher are clearly feeling something here, they are expressing themselves via the power of sound, and I can see this emotional output, this rejection of common thought, of ideas and formulas and traditional styles. There seems a real distaste of music and conversely, such an undying love for it that Lust Rollers can’t help but sacrifice their minds to be somehow one with it.