Credit: Danielle Maibaum
A vocal cord shredding scream hails from the centre of the Portsmouth audience, offering a bizarrely sincere fanboy heckle: “You guys are ridiculously good!”. While flattered, from centre stage Joe Shrewsbury, not quite a ‘frontman’, considering 65daysofstatic’s exclusively instrumental performance, replies “Thanks! We’ve been practicing for thirteen years.” Even so, tonight is almost exclusively an earsplitting medley of latest album Wild Light.
It’s a bold statement to live up to, but being naturally mesmerized within their own musical bubble, in deep concentration as they perform a rapid, earsplitting stream of rock that no amount of ‘post’, ‘math’, ‘glitch’ and ‘experimental’ prefixes can quite put a finger on, suggests that they aren’t lying.
Beforehand, donning ridiculous headdresses (presumably borrowed from the Native American of Village People during their long forgotten post-rock phase) and smeared black face-paint reminiscent of chimney sweeps at the end of a very long day’s work, support duo Nordic Giants provide as much of a multimedia experience as can be squeezed into a 400 capacity venue. They perform they’re own post-rock in sync with unusual, and rarely intelligible films, such as animations which borrowed heavily from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and a two-part saga follow scuba-divers drowning on land. But when your music is quite this mind-bending, then nobody should expect anything to make sense.
Hiding whilst the videos took centre stage, with regular earth-shattering bass rumblings made Nordic Giant’s set feel like a band’s intro tape. However, when the main event arrived an hour later, especially considering Nordic Giants’ hypnotic visual, the stage is unusually underwhelming, to the point that the presumed permanent black curtain the the rear of the stage was removed to reveal the blank, flaking wall behind it. With all effects units visible on a table, ready to be intricately tinkered with during the show (because using pedals with hands is the hip thing these days…), everything is eerily exposed and raw.
Even drummer Rob Jones gets an electronics table of his own at the front of the stage, once he abandons his drum kit for a while to make an even more chaotic racket. Being hunched over his machines can’t be great for his back, or his ears for that matter. And the drums never truly do disappear, as a convulsing Paul Wolinski pummels the floor tom into the ground. With such immersive sonic violence, it comes as no surprise that by the end of tonight’s set, that the audience screams have become slightly harsher, such as the not so family-friendly “play until you bleed!”.
Both 65daysofstatic, and the deadly still audience have been completely entombed by the experience – something that many bands need a vomit-inducing light show and vocals to achieve.