It’s Summer. It’s festival season. There’s sod all to do otherwise. What better reason to skip yet another night of the World Cup than Frank Turner’s Week Off – aka his other band Möngöl Hörde on tour with Palehorse and Oxygen Thief – what is essentially a Best Song Title contest masquerading as a bunch of UK dates? Take it away gents…
Six Things That Happened When We Went To See Möngöl Hörde in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne:
1) Tonight’s early contender comes via Oxygen Thief, Barry Dolan’s project in full band mode tonight and offering up slabs of rough-edged sledgehammer rock for your delectation. A crowd pleaser for the early folks – but let’s not forget why we’re here. ‘Benchpress Your IQ’? It’s a solid start in the song title stakes.
2) Not everyone knows quite what to make of Palehorse. Both Nicolai and tonight’s stand-in second vocals (ex-member) Seedi prefer stagecraft not as a method of preening, ego masturbation or Dad dancing, but a sort of low rent parkour. So barriers are climbed, spaces are wandered about in and – to the tune of brutal low end experimental indie doom post-everything – sensible advice given. Like “Make Sure You Have A Decent Meal Before You Die” and “Don’t Hump Babies”. Essentially it’s like watching the most disturbing children’s entertainment duo ever. I feel quite sorry for that girl fucking around on her phone in the front row when Nicolai comes over to scream in her face. Okay, not that sorry.
3) So what does an internationally renowned folk musician with a punk rock work ethic do when he’s got some time off? Form a second band and go on tour, naturally. Yet this is not going to be Frank Turner’s usual arena filling schtick. Unfortunately for fans of his second band Möngöl Hörde, their sixth ever gig is strictly no requests. Fortunately, that’s because “we’re playing everything we know” – the entirety of their self-titled debut, plus a fine selection of Faith No More, Sepultura and Rage Against The Machine covers, as they bounce against the confines of the Academy 2. And for the record, they do a mean ‘Bulls on Parade’.
4) In fact, they sound phenomenal – Sleeping Souls (Turner’s backing band) guitarist Matt Nasir is a sterling choice, while the skills of Ben Dawson, the powerhouse behind Palehorse, are undiminished, despite the fact he’s pulling double duty tonight. However, it’s Turner’s vocals that may be the surprise here. They’ve hardly suffered from time in storage – indeed, the combination of hard touring and innevitable maturity has given his hardcore vocals richer tone and stamina than they ever did with Million Dead.
5) Talking of which, some of the crowd are, naturally, here to relive the days of Turner’s old post-hardcore outfit. While this is a rare chance to witness that old Dawson-Turner chemistry, Möngöl Hörde are a very different band. Line-up aside – lyrics about Natalie Portman’s tapeworm aside – Million Dead were always a serious proposition. With a wry sense of humour and great musicianship (kind of like a hardcore Faith No More, really), Möngöl Hörde are just plain fun. For that, they’re by far the better night out. And they’ve got umlauts.
6) Dawson’s recent thinkpiece on band finance painted a fairly bleak picture for touring bands – so much so, you might wonder why anyone would want to do it. Well, this is why. Forget history, and forget the fact they Tonight was all about watching three albeit massively talented mates crack jokes and play wry, twisted hardcore for the kids. And why not? This is, after all, Frank Turner’s Week Off. Happy Summer Holidays, everyone!
Oxygen Thief – 1 (‘Benchpress Your IQ’)
Palehorse – 2 on aggregate (between song banter and rare first two albums only set)
Möngöl Hörde – 4 (‘How The Communists Ruined Christmas’, ‘The Yurt Locker’, ‘Blistering Blue Barnacles’, ‘Casual Threats From The Weekend Hardmen’)