Lemonparty, apparently Sudbury’s premier lunatic party band, have been given a regular Thursday slot (‘every middle-ish Thursday of the month’) to showcase the original bands they think need showcasing, and sometimes (as on this inaugural night) to join in and play a set of their own.
Opening proceedings were Two Steps Twice. This is a deluxe model ska band which. although having a keyboard stand in for a brass section, boasts a brace of female backing singers, as well as two male lead singers (or did one of them just do percussion? I’m a little hazy on the early part of the evening).
Two steps twice seem to be aiming at 2Tone, but what came out was more like punk, for a number of reasons: firstly the keyboard couldn’t quite manage to substitute for a brass section (although it played the right lines, and sounded good); second, the guitar sound was way too loud and thrashy; and thirdly, well, they just had a punk aesthetic. To be honest, they were a little bit shy of properly rehearsed to play a style of music that’s so groove based and rhythmically exacting, but their enthusiasm was infectious and their set was a lot of fun.
Following them were the always intense Luvdump, the only band of the night that I’d seen before. Luvdump’s bag is old school hardcore, with bits of reggae and ska breaking out like a rash, as it tends to around punk music. This is a band with all the commitment and passion their style demands, and the playing skills to nail it to the floor (although they had some serious timing issues in the first couple of numbers, they got it sorted after that). It’s all about the music, and they’ve got that down, with some great songs, and good arrangements, but let’s face it, attitude and visuals have a strong effect on audience response as well. The singer bounces like a nutter, in a way that’s impossible to ignore (unless maybe you’re dead), while the guitarists sling their axes so low they could play with their feet, and one of them has that same kind of prowling, skinny menace once purveyed by Wilko Johnson. Luvdump are the real deal, and they played a blinder.
Lemonparty were quite an eye opener for me: they play a frantic, skittering brand of funk rock, and their tall, insectile singer is one of the most charismatic front-men I’ve seen in a while, in an entirely offbeat, freaky way. His jerky movements and oddball vocal delivery had a little of David Byrne about them, but his low body mass and hollow cheeks make him look equally like a man on the comedown from one too many northern soul weekenders. This is not a band anyone will forget in a hurry. They have some good chops as well, keeping it tight while making sure they stay focussed on entertaining, which they are very good at, almost coercing the audience into movement! Short on artistic pretensions, and long on uncompromising, unselfconscious good times.
I had been listening to the The Junk on the web before the gig, so I was looking forward to them. And was I disappointed? No, boys and girls, I was not. What they play is not ska as such, although there are elements of it in their music, but basically hardcore with some arse kicking brass riffs. I’m calling it brasscore, because I’m the kind of idiot that wants to pretend he’s hip by bandying about genres that no-one’s heard of. Although it might be time for some such label, because The Junk are not the only band doing this: the excellent Beat The Red Light take a similar (if more metal tinged) approach, for example, and there are others about.
The Junk’s brass section for the night was a BRASS section: no poxy saxophones here (although a quick listen to their MySpace reveals an alto reed playing a leading role too). Just a trumpet and a trombone playing tightly scored riffs that give the guitars a run for their money in terms of edgy, high energy propulsiveness. The band sometimes breaks it down into a slow reggae jam, but mostly they maintain a pretty mental pace, keeping themselves and the audience pumped.
The whole band performs to the audience: you don’t have to sell out to be an entertainer, and this is an outfit that sticks to its artistic principles without compromising on the fun factor. Heavy duty, mental, moshable, musical mayhem is their stock in trade and you should get some of this if you get the chance.