LIVE REPORT: Belgian Garagerock Heaven
, November 19th, 2015 21:44
The Glücks and Mind Rays, Incubate veterans and Flanders’ finest purveyors of primitive rock & roll bring the noise to North Holland. Mark Andrews reports
Photo by Tom Roelofs
Anyone befuddled by the current generic nomenclature of rock music, will have no trouble knowing where they stand with The Glücks: slap bang in the middle of a Golden Triangle mapped out by The Cramps, The Gun Club and The Scientists. For the 33 minutes of their set I am in a place where swampy, souped-up garage punk rules supreme. A rock & roll club in Melbourne in 1984, perhaps? With Mick Harvey over at the bar by the meat pies? Or Jon Spencer's dorm room at Brown, minus the penchant for DAF and Neubauten?
Actually I'm in The Café of The Patronaat, an annex of Haarlem's concrete beast of a music centre. It feels like the first day of winter: there's been hail and icy gusts are blowing bicycles over. About 20 people have made it to see The Glücks - the umlaut is not heavy metal silent, by the way - including a half dozen, androgynous long-haired blondes, Haarlem's garagerock contingent, no doubt. There's also a middle-aged guy in what has to be a home-made Slayer T shirt with the lyrics to 'I Hate You' printed on the back which begin: "You were just a waist of sperm".
Tina (plays drums and sings) and Alek (plays guitar and howls) give it some hell right out of the gate: stupid amounts of reverb and beaucoup primitive leopard print floor tom and snare, the sex beat under squalls of distortion and screams. With all the slapback on his vocals Alek - from Moscow via West Flanders - could be doing the show in Dutch or Russian, but I think everything's in English. There are so many yelps, spasms and flailing about, it's The Exorcist garagerock style: Lux Interior as Pazuzu trying to bust out of Ed Sheeran as Linda Blair. Tina – a visserswijf, a native Ostender - belts out the songs with the more obvious tunes from her drum stool.
The Glücks' are a rather bizarro throwback to the days when Back From The Grave obsessives collided head-on with punk. It's hugely nostalgic for someone of my advancing years and thrillingly out of whack with all commercial imperatives.
Same for Ghent's Mind Rays, whose two main influences appear to be Billy Childish and Minor Threat, which is to say they sound like a deStooged early Mudhoney. Mind Rays, like The Glücks, are also recognisably a pukkah garage band, unlike most with that moniker in Belgium, where playing without a laptop and having the merest hint of overdrive on a guitar is enough to drop that term into your Bandcamp page.
Mind Rays have been at Incubate in Tilburg the last two years, but even with this small crowd there is a sense that the Dutch dig their shit more than the Belgians. It's instantly boys - I think - to the front, as the half dozen androgynous blondes and friends set to moshing. Can I call it chicken dancing or electric dancing, please? This is punk rock after all.
The singer, defiantly balding and maybe stoned, gets hoisted on the shoulders of The Midwich Cuckoos for all of 20 seconds during 'Meat Slurry'; his demeanour still says, "Please kill me". They finish with their best song: 'Take Forever' – 'Territorial Pissings' and 'Aneurysm' compressed into a raucous two minutes.
In under half an hour, Mind Rays are done. No encore.
Onto the legendary Pacific Parc in Amsterdam with The Glücks tomorrow.
Later at the merch table both bands are raving about the Sleaford Mods at Het Bos in Antwerp last month, "the smell of piss is so strong it smells like decent bacon" cracking them right up. One of Mind Rays suggests that the Billy Childish bon mot "Is it art or is it arse?" should serve as a review of their set.
Around midnight, the bands are in the Patronaat's loading bay humping their gear into their vans, when The Mind Rays' drummer checks his phone.
Eagles of Death Metal. Bataclan. Kalishnikovs.
The first day of winter.
Too much fucking perspective.