For anybody who didn’t venture here from Part 1 (which you can read here), you join me at about 5PM on 28th October 2019, and I am midway through a whistlestop bounce around London, visiting locations which radiate pretentiousness – modern art at Tate Modern, pop-up record stores and artsy drone music. (OK, that sounded awful. I’m a bit more sympathetic sounding in the first part. Honest.) We have moved on from the Tate Modern, onto what a friend of mine referred to as ‘hipster central’. I guess I needed to find out what all the fuss was about. Enter: Pop Brixton.
Pop Brixton is a community project which unites over 50 independent start-up businesses into a rather unusual structure built from shipping containers. Although it was already meant to have been dismantled, its stay was extended, and it will be there at least into 2020. I think that the concept is fantastic and well assembled and that it should stay indefinitely, because it seems to be both cost-effective, and a very animated scene, both for young businesses and for cultural events.
That night in particular wasn’t especially eventful, and while I was disappointed to find that its little record store Container Records had closed for the evening by the time I got there, I was very happy to stay for the food. I stopped by World of Wurst and bought some ‘currywurst’ (I’d seen it namedropped most online, so I had to find out what the fuss was about) and then by L’Amuse-Bouche for a chestnut puree crepe. The man who made it for me (dare I say he’s a crepe-ist? Sorry. I couldn’t resist.) said that it was his favourite, and he wasn’t kidding. It was lovely. I hope I’ll get to visit again, when it’s a little more alive, before its eventual closure.
The warmth wasn’t to last though, because it was now time to trek back to the Roundhouse for the concert.
The bass began to grumble and the fog began to fill the room. Sunn O))) clearly meant serious business, and the support hadn’t even started.
Tonight’s support was the fantastic Anna von Hausswolff. I had seen her before when she supported another notoriously loud band – Swans. I said at the time, and the record still stands that she is the loudest support act that I have ever witnessed. Once again she was absolutely brilliant, and I really need to get round to seeing her at one of her own shows. In fact, I would go so far as to say, and it saddens me to say so, but I think tonight that I enjoyed her performance than I enjoyed Sunn O))).
This was not the first time that I had seen Sunn O))) live, having seen them before in Brighton, and I loved it. However, I felt tonight fell short of that show somewhat for a few reasons. For starters, I miss Attila Csihar’s vocals and his laser fingers. Also, when one has earplugs in, I feel that it is very hard to appreciate what makes drone metal more than just a perpetual grumble and enjoyable to listen. For short periods, I would take them out and here the intense grinding crackles as Stephen O’Malley slowly scraped and strummed his strings. This really disappoints me. They sounded somewhat more, if I may use such term without sounding like I’m talking about cake, ‘rich’ and ‘layered’.
I was surprised to find afterwards that there was even a setlist. The only real ‘changes’ of sorts that I could differentiate was a short period where a trombone was played, and the lights changed colour (presumably signally a track change). They even performed an encore. I don’t know whether or not their closest fans recognised what they had dug from their back catalogue or not, or if they were just happy for a few more minutes of Sunn O))). I know it sounds like I’m a total wimp, but seriously guys, do protect your ears at concerts. Sunn O))) are like a drug. An amazing, hypnotic experience. If only it was safe.
Looking through my photos, I have no idea why I bothered trying to take any pictures given the murkiness and fogginess, I wasn’t going to succeed. And more stupid still was attempting to film a bit of it. Odds were that I wasn’t going to catch a moment where they actually changed chord. Nor would my phone appreciate the volume much. Oh well, I tried.