When we interviewed Coilguns over Christmas, we ended up talking about raping a donkey. When we reviewed their new EP earlier this year, we ended up describing it as “[not] so much an EP as it is an exploding pressure valve”. And so when Coilguns came to London to play a show in a dark and cramped basement venue, we sent Hugh Platt along to experience the full fear this sideproject from The Ocean could cause.
6 things we learned in the basement of The Star of Kings in London:
1) Cult Cinema need a little more time to correct their craft when it comes to live performances. While we love their Iscariot EP – all the dischordant anger, and nods to Cult Of Luna-esque atmospherics – when performed live it lacks the abrasive, wall-of-sound force that is has on record. There’s a kernel of what makes this band great here – it just needs to be road-hardened in order to bring it out.
2) Oh, Hush. I wish I could say your scrappy hardcore was more memorable that the enormous gobbet of spit your frontman hawked onto the ceiling in The Star of Kings’ basement. Instead, as he paced about the floor, barking into people’s faces, or throwing his microphone down on the floor before lying down to bellow at it, like a particular aggro drill instructor giving a new recruit a verbal going over, it was all we could do not the be transfixed by his gobbet of spittle slowly drooping down from the ceiling. It had stretched out to nearly a foot in length before it finally snapped loose and splatted to the floor. And in doing so, it was far more interesting than anything musically going on at the time.
3) You know sometimes when you go watch a band with absolutely no preconceptions whatsoever, and they go and shatter the tits clean off your expectactions? Earthship are one of those bands. The sludge-doom rumble the German three-piece blasted out was felt doubly powerful after the so-so performance of the band preceding them.
In truth, Earthship seem almost have more in common with North London’s experimental heavy scene than they do anything from the continental mainland. The trio slip unexpectedly airy vocal passages and jazzy, off-kilter rhythms with some serious, beastly crush’n’crunch. Definitely, defiantly, a name to watch out for in future.
4) If the frontman of almost any other band had fallen over a venue’s free-standing monitor amp, and toppled into his band’s drumkit just as his band were plowing into their opening number, you’d be funny. It’d be the kind of comedic anecdote you’d take away from a gig that would obliterate any subsequent memory of the performance – “Hey, remember when Louis Jucker from Coilguns went arse over tit into the drum kit right at the start of their very fist song? That was hilarious!” Except with Coilguns, it didn’t turn out like that at all. It merely indicated the lowest watermark that the chaos Jucker and co would instigate tonight would reach. Coilguns were taking no prisoners.
5) That the frontman had, only minutes before, stalked round the entire of the venue and physically manhandled the audience as close as he could get to Coilguns instruments, meant that almost the entire gig had a front row view for this. No, that’s not right – Coilguns demanded everyone’s full attention for this. A side-project of The Ocean they may be, but the casual yet abrasive urgency the band exude makes them a very different creature indeed from the more contemplative, longform band that spawned them. They manage to turn ‘In the Limelights’ – a near 6-minute, hypnotica and wordless track from their Stadia Rods EP – into a primal force of sound. Jucker might not have opened his mouth for the entire length of the song, but not a person in the room dared take their eyes off him because of what he might do. That, ladies and gentleman, is frontmanship.
6) When we turned and fled to catch the last train, Jucker was being held upside-down by his ankles by two semi-reluctant and entirely-terrified members of the audience, all the while still roaring into his microphone. If we were to anthropomorphise that microphone, it’d have been screaming in terror too. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the next time Coilguns come to town, we’ll be there again; we’re too scared not to attend.