Friday 02 September 2022 – St Leonards.
This is only the third UK gig I’ve attended this year and it’s also the third with a direct or indirect relationship with Wrong Speed Records, the label that headline act Enablers released their new album ‘Some Gift on. The record came out today, which provided little time to cement any tracks in my head before the gig started. Not that this was to be a sing-along show anyway.
I’m gonna take a little bit of credit/responsibility for the gig happening at The Piper. The label did a call-out on Twitter for a venue in the south of England who would be up for show on the Enablers UK and Europe tour, and I suggested St Leonards. Somehow it happened, and I was very happy with that. The more tours that come through St Leonards the better, though of course small town SE England isn’t an overly attractive place to tour. Hasting/St Leonards may not be small geographically, but it’s small in other ways…
Arriving at The Piper at 8:30 (doors at 8:00) I wasn’t surprised to find the upstairs venue still closed. There a few people gathered in the bar below, and most of those were just Friday night drinkers, though there was the odd bloke (mostly blokes) on their own who looked like gig attendees. I think I was the only person in attendance in a band t-shirt (NZ band Die! Die! Die!), this is highly unusual behaviour, obscure band t-shirts are almost compulsory at obscure band gigs. Obviously the t-shirt shouldn’t be from the band/s you’re seeing, that would be very uncool indeed. Maybe things have changed? As Eleanor will attest I’ve been trying to wean myself off of obscure band t-shirts as I approach 60; with limited success. I’m wearing one (Southern Death Cult) as I head back to Walthamstow on a Saturday morning train.
A couple of very loud drunk/wasted guys came into the bar so I climbed the stairs to the venue and joined three other people waiting for the support band, Van Couer, to take the stage. It was a bit of a wait, I assume they were waiting for more people to arrive. Just before the band took to the low stage the two drunk/wasted loud blokes arrived in the room and looked around for somewhere to sit. Finding nothing they liked they dragged a small bench into the middle of the venue and plonked themselves down right in front. I’ve never seen anyone do that before, I quietly admired their confidence.
Van Coeur are a three piece from Brighton; comprised of two guitarists and a drummer; all contributing to the vocals, their music is a very slow almost folky post-rock; think Slint, mixed with Low and Haress and slow it down some more. They reminded me a bit of Deathcrash, who we saw in a church in Islington last year. They are a very quiet group; as they played their opening track (You have the benefit of all my doubts) I heard the fizz of an illicit can of lager being cracked open by someone sat further along the bench I was on.
I hadn’t heard of them prior to the gig being announced and only started listening to them yesterday. I really like them, and am listening to them on the train as I write. I don’t know the names of many of the songs they played, one stood out in particular though and I hope to stumble across it again as I listen (I didn’t (sad face emoji) ).
Enablers are a Texan four piece, and like Van Coeur before them they had no bass player, just two six-string guitars, drums and vocals. I don’t know much of their music; they are touring the UK and Europe to promote the new LP. The audience only got to hear the songs that made up most of their set for the first time just before the show started. I would describe them as a post-punk/post-rock band backing a poet/story teller, the lyrics are mostly spoken rather than sung. They are delivered with passion and style, this isn’t a book reading.
This was the second show on their current tour and the set was crisp and enthusiastically delivered and I thoroughly enjoyed their set, as did the small appreciative crowd. I think my favourite track was called ‘Willard to Kurtz’, a clear reference to the film ‘Apocalypse Now’. It’s very much my favourite from the record.
Pete Simonelli is an engaging front man, difficult to photograph as no part of his body was ever still, I took a lot of photos that were plain rubbish. The light was significantly more photographer friendly than it was for Gnod a few weeks back which meant I managed to get a couple of quite crisp images. I moved closer to the centre of the stage and shot these photos between the head and shoulders of the two Van Coeur guitarists.
it was great show and there are now another couple of LPs to add to my wish list.
There was a small piece of exciting news this week. New Zealand (I think, though he lives in Canada) author, Matthew Goody, has written a book, ‘Needles and Plastic’, documenting the 1981-1988 period of New Zealand music label Flying Nun; their most fertile and influential period. I have more records and CDs on Flying Nun than any other record label. I’ve been waiting for the release announcement for some time as Matt has used some of my photos from the period, which will be the first time any of my photos have appeared in a book. The book comes out in November and I’m quite excited by this.
I never link to products for sale, but will make this a rare exception.
In NZ the book can be ordered from here
and from here for the US and UK/Europe.