Idles, Scarlet Rascal, Space Church at the Boileroom, Guildford – 15th March 2017

So, I’m here for two reasons.  Space Church and Idles.  Space Church I like, Idles sound really good online… angry, political… top notch post-punk noise.  I was going anyway so no need to check out Scarlet Rascal.  I have no expectations of them.

Space Church came on before the venue really filled up.  It’s a bold headliner who is willing to spend so much time at the start of a set playing in almost silence… its a very bold support act.  I like bold.  It’s a bold alt-rock frontman who does snow and rain hand gestures to help the audience follow his lyrics.  I like bold.  What I like isn’t always wise.

To what extent should a band be praised for their courage, their single-mindedness… to what extent should they be given a short sharp slap and told to go away and think about how much the audience reaction from people seeing them for the first time could be changed for the better by ditching some of the weirdness and chucking one or two slightly more catchy numbers in the set?  Whilst not a particularly close comparison I note that whilst their albums went off in different, quiet and experimental directions, live Spacemen 3 focussed on the noisy tracks that went down well live.

Is it sound system or my mood?  Some of it might even be down to the band playing different on different nights.  When I first saw Space Church they just threw me totally in a really noisy, really all over the place, really don’t give a fuck way I love.  Later I was less impressed (less, not un)… which I mainly put down to a set-list that changed little, maybe the band getting a touch tighter, and the overall effect being considerably less of a headfuck compared to seeing them the first time as a result.

Space Church are my perfect type of band to see at the Boileroom.  A band I know and love and who I have already seen blast away loud as.  A band in a new environment where I get to see what they can do with a better (no, not better, more controlled) sound system and more controlled sound.

“Space Church Play Post / Noise / Stoner / Math Rock” says their bandcamp.  Steve Albini and Slint are huge influences.  Yet some guy I spoke to after their set dismissed them to me a Pink Floyd rip-off with none of the talent when I asked him what he thought.  I can kinda see where’s he was coming from in some respects, but its basically crap.  Imagine giving a band used to a grand and a weekend to make an album around £20k £40k plus and a month or two.  The Boileroom is probably a bit like the live equivalent.  Space Church’s subtlety and variety and sheer competence comes to the fore, but they lose massively in energy, raw power and that scratchy, trebly, raw abrasive guitar sound that would – IMHO – ensure that Pink Floyd just wouldn’t be considered as a comparison by anybody.

The other thing about Space Church is this.  To what extent are they deadly serious?  To what extent are they are complete piss-take?  To what extent do they know themselves, and to what extent do they care what the audience’s thoughts on the matter are.  I think they’re meant to be taken seriously in many respects (but I could be wrong), but I also think I take them far more seriously than I should.  I suspect many younger audience members took them more seriously than I do, and would maybe hear them in a totally different way if they (the audience or the band) approached it less seriously.

Great set.

The surprise of the night next… Scarlet Rascal.  I took an immediate dislike to the shit drumming, and the arrogant prick on vocals.  Wasn’t overly keen on the wanky jazzmaster action or Ride circa 1991 haircut said offender was sporting either.

Then I got into it.  This is probably the most bullshitty comparison I have ever made, but here’s my take on them.  Imagine PiL decided to go in a shoegaze / krautrock direction, and get the lovechild of Mark E Smith and David Byrne to front them?  It might be a bit like Scarlet Rascal.  One or two songs in and I’m digging the drumming and feeling pretty bad about my misjudgement… maybe my reaction was simply down to how much I like the drumming I’d just seen in Space Church, and Scarlett Rascal’s stickster just does her thing in a totally different way.

Great groove, I’m no massive shoegaze fan, but I do like it, then you add a proper, top class frontman and you have a band that I could get well into I think.  Gonna go check ’em out now, see where they’re coming from, what they’re like on record.  Go do the same.

I just didn’t get on with Idles… the venue was filling up and I moved further back.  The sound was quiet and I thought they sounded bang fucking average.  Nothing like on record.  I moved forward a bit for the last couple of songs and they were better… but still not convinced.  Nothing wrong with not sounding like you do on record.  Its normal.  Many bands sound tight, taut and controlled on record, brilliant for it, then fall apart in the most beautiful noisy way in a live environment.

I was in a minority of one, most of the crowd were well into it, but, honestly, worst set of the night by a mile.  It wouldn’t surprise me if in a different venue at a different time with a louder sound system and I’d give ’em a ten.  Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood.

I was listening to Idles whilst writing this… superb band.

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